Monday, 26 May 2014

The Haven

Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and Dr McCoy beam down to planet 435 where they meet Carnak, a being with advanced and powerful technology that gives him mental control over the inhabitants. Captain Kirk engages Carnak in a battle of wills and defeats him, restoring order to the planet. The three beam back to the Enterprise where Captain Kirk makes a joke and we end with everybody laughing.

The Haven reads like a typical Star Trek story, except that it has the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan in place of Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and Dr McCoy.

At the Haven they meet Carnak, who is inaccurately described as "an ageless man." He is in charge of 49,867 mannys, all of whom have gone
and all of whom are being kept in suspended animation until Carnak needs them to be his remote-controlled henchmannys.

"You mean they're held in a state of suspended animation?" asked Tegan. "Like they used to freeze bodies in America in the 1980s, so that when medical science progressed they could be cured of whatever killed them and live again?"
"That is correct," the man said. "That was the start of the perfection of the science of cryogenics. By the year 1990 we knew all the secrets of freezing human bodies. These people wait here in The Haven, in my care, until it is time for them to reawaken."

Some of the mannys have been here since 1993, and it is now 2330. Obviously this was still the far and distant future when this story was written in the early 1980s, so we cannot hold their inaccurate predictions of human colonies on other planets by 1993 against them.

The Doctor leaves the Haven but then sneaks back in to investigate the bodies because he and Nyssa have a feeling that there is something going on, and there are still three pages of the story left to go.

They are immediately captured by Carnak, who decides to freeze them. The Doctor comes up with a plan to defeat Carnak.
"I'm going to have to indulge in a bout of mind-wrestling with Carnak," the Doctor replied. "I'll have to try to overcome his will with mine, and thus put his control out of action. Without that control the guards revert to what they really are-frozen bodies."

Nyssa and Tegan's part in the plan is for them to wait until the guards are distracted by the battle of wills and then leg it with the Doctor on a trolley. Realising that the story is under-running, and there is still over a page left to go, they pad it out by explaining this plan in detail at length.
This was never going to be a great story, but could have been improved if it had been tighter.

The Doctor makes a face but, of course, he wins the battle of wills and they escape back to the Tardis.

"What will happen to the guards now-and all the other people?"
"I don't really know, but one thing's for sure-somehow or other I did manage to destroy Carnak's control for ever. He won't be able to control the guards now."

So that's alright then.

"And the other people?"
"I don't think you can think of them as people," said the Doctor thoughtfully. "They have human bodies, yes, but they cannot be said to be living beings. Their bodies were kept intact by freezing, but it was an outer shell with no living centre. They were-and are-dead."


Never mind, there's still time for the story to end on a joke to cheer us all up after that downbeat note.

"So where are we heading now, Doctor?" Nyssa asked.
The Doctor gave an almost imperceptible shiver. "I don't know," he said, "but somewhere warm I think, don't you?"

Even Davo looks unimpressed with this ending. Overall this is not a good story, with few original ideas and mediocre execution of them on top.

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