**** (4 stars out of 5)
"For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky" is much better than I remember and a singularly romantic outing for McCoy. Did I mention I think McCoy is awesome?
Dr. McCoy has xenopolycythemia, and less than a year to live.
A hollow atomic-powered asteroid 200 miles across is on automated course to hit the 3 billion people of Daran V. Kirk says he and Spock can handle it alone.
"Without ME, Jim? You'd never find your way back." smiles McCoy.
There is illusory open sky in the asteroid. Captured by High Priestess Natira, our boys discover the people of Yonada don't know they are inside a giant stone spaceship.
The all-knowing Oracle gives them an electrical shock of greeting. You guessed it, it's a tyrannical computer holding its stagnant culture in religious thrall.
"Things are not as they teach us," says a local oldster. He's pained with warning until he dies for daring to tell the tale of climbing the forbidden mountains and touching the sky. I am always moved by this. It is a short but effective illustration of tragic injustice in non-flexible religion. Plus it sucks.
The Oracle is one computer I don't feel remotely sorry for that it crossed paths with Kirk.
Bones gets his flirt on with Natira. She shares his forthrightness and honesty, and she desires him for as long as he may live.
The Oracle will allow McCoy to marry Natira if he agrees to implant the Instrument of Obedience and follows all laws. Will Bones convert for some Yonadan nookie? Could be worse- nobody's mentioning circumcision.
Kirk and Spock are sentenced to death for entering the Oracle room, but McCoy begs their lives. He's not coming back with them. "I'm on a kind of a collision course myself, Jim."
With a "just married" bumper sticker on the asteroid, Natira reveals a sacred text that can alter the direction of Yonada. McCoy calls his friends to talk about it, and Spock saves him from the inevitable results of the deadly Instrument of Obedience. The Oracle doesn't like those who speak unsanctioned truth.
"Is truth not truth for all?... I must know the truth of the world!" When Natira defies the clockwork god, it tries to fire the non-believers. With heating elements.
Spock and Kirk make a few easy fixes and pop the rock back on course. Conveniently, the secret room also contains the cure for xenopolycythemia.
McCoy must still go on searching the universe, and his wife must still serve her universe Yonada. But Kirk thinks they can arrange to return in 390 days to the new world, so Bones can "thank" her.