Apr 1, 2015

Creating Zarabeth

Love on Sarpeidon is a slow ice age thaw. Zarabeth waits,
 rather impatiently, for Spock to finish his calculations.
Two of my previous blog posts have discussed the Star Trek episode "All Our Yesterdays" (see my list of 10 great Star Trek episodes and the more recent Leonard Nimoy's Spock). Here, I ask you to imagine a version of this story without Zarabeth. "Why?", you ask.

Watch "All Our Yesterdays".
Read the script for the episode.

When I was about six years old, I was already more interested in the origins of stories than most stories themselves. For example, I couldn't listen to a story from the Bible without wanting to discuss who had written the story and why they had written it.

Trapped in the past, alone.
Cue violins. Spock and Zarabeth
say farewell at the ice cliff. Cue
wind. Zarabeth: "I can't go back."
Skip ahead a few years to grade school. Rather than just meekly answer the questions that my teacher asked about some icy cold Jack London story ("To Build a Fire"), I wanted to take the discussion in another direction.....I wanted to know who it was that was telling the story to me. "But, he was all alone, out in the wilderness.....he who told the story?"

I first saw "All Our Yesterdays" when it was shown as a "rerun", viewed on a small black and white television, received through the wonders of a tiny UHF antenna and watched despite the adversity of very snowy reception. Under those viewing conditions, I had no idea that Spock had alien features such as copper-tinted skin, tilted eyebrows and pointy ears.

Later, in the 1970s, when I finally saw Star Trek in color (on a larger TV screen and with a better antenna) I was amazed.....suddenly I could begin to see the story as it had been intended to be seen. Wow. Similarly, when Mariette Hartley stepped out of her fur coat, revealing her sexy cave woman dress, millions of young boys all gave thanks for color television. "All Our Yesterdays" needed the character Zarabeth in order to be a memorable Star Trek episode.

A Handful of Dust
Zarabeth tells Spock that because of her family ties she
was exiled into the ice age by Zor Kahn, the tyrant.
"All Our Yesterdays" originated as fan fiction. Jean Aroeste, a librarian, submitted a six page story outline with "A Handful of Dust" as the story title. In Jean's original outline, there was no Zarabeth. (a list of story revisions) There was a library run by Mr. Atoz and, at the end, an old book that crumbled to dust in Kirk's hand.

Lucky for us, Robert Justman recognized the germ of a Star Trek episode in "A Handful of Dust". Eric Paddon has described a version of "All Our Yesterdays" dated December 12, 1968, three months before the episode was televised. In that draft of the story, Zarabeth was not depicted as leading a solitary life without any luxuries nor was she shown living as a "cave woman", nor did the "early version of Zarabeth" successfully seduce Mr. Spock.

Spock: "I should be able to resolve this problem logically"
Zarabeth: "Stop talking and kiss me, you silly nerd."
Somehow, between December 12th and the video recording of the episode, some magic was sprinkled into the story. I agree with Eric Paddon that "All Our Yesterdays" is "one of the best episodes of Season 3 and of all of Trek". When Spock is led to believe that it is impossible to return to the Enterprise, he reveals his emotions and allows himself to admit that Zarabeth is beautiful. After years of isolation, alone in her cave, Zarabeth is pleased to be the recipient of his compliments. Spock sweeps Zarabeth off her feet and they proceed to give the local hot spring some competition for steaming up the cave.

With Spock's walled-off emotions as a foundational element of the Star Trek universe, many Star Trek fans have tried to imagine all kinds of ways to bring love into Spock's life.

In a very real sense,  Zarabeth is a soul mate for Spock and it is only through the technical magic of the atavacron that Spock and Zarabeth can be transported into the past of the world Sarpeidon, and only then and there can Spock allow his long-suppressed human emotions to be expressed, only there is he free to love Zarabeth. Zarabeth's lonely exile in Sarpeidon's ice age mirrors Spock's life-long need to repress his Human emotions and live as a logical Vulcan. With the creation of Zarabeth, "All Our Yesterdays" became a classical fairy tale in which Prince Spock and Princess Zarabeth could fall in love and rescue each other from lives of loneliness.

Spock and McCoy
Spock's magical visit with Zarabeth is only a brief fairy tale interlude that must end.

McCoy insists that they try to help Kirk and return to the Enterprise. Spock must wait for the violin music to all be played and for the wind machine on the set to toss Mariette Hartley's hair, then he and McCoy finally return to the future, leaving Zarabeth alone in the distant past.

In the Beginning
Star Dance
The question becomes: who created Zarabeth?

I'm particularly interested in that question at this time because I've been imagining how Carl Sagan might have been created. For the Exode Trilogy, I imagine that in previous realities there was no Earthling named Carl Sagan. Then, Grean must create a strange temporal loop by which Bet travels back through Time and helps her mother be conceived. Then Carl Sagan can be created as Bet's son....sort of. (It's actually slightly more complicated than that.) Anyhow, the future of Humanity hinges on a strange loop of causality within which Albert Einstein is Bet's grandfather and Sagan's great grandfather. Ah, the wonders of time travel!

The Buffalo Effect
Many time travel stories deal with the "Butterfly Effect". However, Isaac Asimov imagined that Time is subject to a type of temporal inertia. It seems like the people of Sarpeidon must have become masters of temporal engineering. They found a way to send the entire population of their planet back into the history of their own planet, all without causing any time paradoxes.

To account for this amazing accomplishment, I suppose there must be a temporal "buffalo effect" by which a heard of people can be sent into the past without changing their own future.

Gary 7 and Beta 5
Maybe the atavachron is actually a sophisticated quantum computer that can determine exactly how to insert people into the past so as to not alter the present. I also suspect that the time travelers of Sarpeidon all carried nanorobotic endosymbionts that guided their behavior, preventing them from altering their own history. It is fun to imagine Interventionists such as Gary Seven watching over Sarpeidon and using artificial life forms like Beta 5 to do the needed computations.

Zarabeth melts Spock's heart
Spring Project: People, Places and Things
Here in this blog post I've taken a look back at Zarabeth, Sarpeidon and the atavachron. Starting here in April I want to make a large number of blog posts about individual characters (example), locations and other "things" (particularly imagined objects such as future technologies) from the Exode Trilogy. An example of the type of blog posts I hope to create in the near future is my blog post from last year about the Fru'wu.

The image shown here, to the right, is a whimsical depiction of Spock and Zarabeth in the ice age of Sarpeidon, with their love affair imagined as the basis for a Disney movie. In the Exode Trilogy, I repeatedly play around with the idea of "soul mates", pairs of lovers who are brought together from across vast gulfs of Space or Time. Kach and Parthney were the first star-crossed lovers of Exode while Ghyl and Bet are the most recent. Trysta and Ekcolir are another important "odd couple" in the Exode Trilogy with Ekcolir, an Ek'col, having been crafted as the "perfect complement" for Trysta, who is an Asterothrope.

Cecilie's song
Actually, I prefer to think of such happy couples as "star-twisted" rather than star-crossed. Another example of my "matches made in the Sedronic Domain" is Thomas and Cecilie. Cecilie is a "constructed human", a woman who was brought into existence as the soul mate of Thomas Iwedon. Here in the Buld Reality, the world as we know it, Cecilie is a living, breathing instantiation of a fictional character who first appeared in a novel that was written in the Ekcolir Reality.

My fascination with characters like Zarabeth, who have mysterious origins, runs deep and has led me to populate the Exode Trilogy with a strange collection of characters who originated from real life (Asimov, Vance, Sagan) or as fictional characters (Trysta, Ghyl, Cecilie) or from my imagination (Parthney, Kach, Thomas, Ekcolir).

our Reality Chain
Not satisfied to simply bring people like Sagan into my fiction, I must provide a fictional account of their origins in earlier Realities. In Star Dance, the origins of Carl Sagan (as we know him in the Buld Reality) must be established in the Grean Reality and the Ekcolir Reality. Pardon me for not being able to resist the fun of creating my own favorite science fiction authors.

More Star Trek romance: Kirk and Miramanee
Next: Chapter 5 of Star Dance - Bet is off to Prague in order to complete her mission of pushing Earth towards the discovery of hierions.

Related Reading: The blog post, above, was written April 1, 2015. See the October 9th 2015 comment, below, indicating that the December 12 draft of the Star Trek episode's script was written by Arthur Singer and the final draft, dated December 17 was the creation of Fred Freiberger.
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  1. I'm glad my essay on the "final draft" version of the script was helpful and appreciate your mentioning it! Since writing that, the Marc Cushman book on Season 3 has come out and clarifies the matter of who wrote this version of the script I consulted. According to Cushman, it was story editor Arthur Singer who did this version and that ultimately the "final revised draft" of the script, dated five days later (December 17, 1968) was done by Fred Freiberger, which would make this Freiberger's greatest contribution to Trek overall. The date of this revised final draft is one day before shooting began. Hopefully a copy of it will surface one day for us to study!

    1. Thank you for sharing! With all of the Star Trek scripts that he had to plow through, it makes sense that Freiberger would have had the needed perspective to turn Zarabeth into Spock's soul mate.