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Literature / Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars

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"To surpass nature, one must be crueler than nature."
Dr. Sarina Kaur

Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars is a trilogy written by Greg Cox about the life of Khan Noonien Singh. It covers the supermans rise to power, subsequent fall and his exile on Ceti Alpha V. Along with Space Seed and The Wrath of Khan, we are given Khan's life story, showing how he rose to power and became the monster that his is.

Sarina Kaur, a brilliant scientist from India, wants to make a superior breed of humanity. To do this, she gathers several other brilliant scientists from around the world and takes them to Chrysalis, an underground research facility in India where they can work without government interference. The missing scientists are noticed by Gary Seven, prompting an investigation into the worldwide disappearances. Unfortunately, Chrysalis has already produced several super children, including Khan. Drawing the line at murder, Gary and Roberta evacuate the facility and activate the self destruct mechanism, scattering the children around the world in the hopes that they will grow up and live normal lives. Unfortunately, superior ability breeds superior ambition.

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The story makes extensive use of actual history, veiling the Eugenics Wars behind the brushfire conflicts of the 1990s.


The series shows examples of:

  • Action Girl: Roberta Lincoln spends a lot of time running around saving the world. She's even fought two superhumans at once and come out on top.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Khan stages an attack on Gary's base of operations twice; once as the Cold War is ending to find the other children of Chrysalus and Dr. Evergreen's ozone manipulation technology, then again in London to wipe out Gary and Roberta. The second attempt prompts Gary to relocate to out in the country to minimize possible civilian casualties.
  • Affably Evil: Both Kaur and Khan are polite, well spoken and willing to debate with those they disagree with.
  • Ax-Crazy: Joaquin is fond of throwing knives at people he doesn't like.
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  • Amazon Brigade: Chen Tiejun and her group of superwomen. They even call themselves the amazons.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Superior ability breeds superior ambition, after all.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: The nuclear reactor used by Chrysalis has several rods that can, with proper authorization, meld together to form critical mass, which will made them explode. In reality, several rods of uranium slowly sliding together will simply produce a large lump of uranium rods.
  • Asshole Victim: All the supers apart from Khan die in pretty horrible fashion. But they cause so much suffering to their ordinary human subjects, they absolutely deserve their fates. The worst (or best depending on how you look at it) has to be Vasily Hunyadi, who's killed in a sarin gas attack. Any sympathy you might feel is mitigated by the fact that when the attack took place Hunyadi was in the middle of a speech defending his policy of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
  • Badass Normal: Roberta Lincoln, who keeps the world at large safe from Khan and his kin.
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    • Possibly Gary Seven, but given that he was selectively bred and raised on an alien planet, it's up to debate just how normal he is.
  • Batman Gambit: After Gary realizes how dangerous Khan really is, he enters Isis under the name of Ament in the list of superhumans he has on the Beta-5, knowing that Khan will attempt to hack it and recruit as many superhumans as he can.
  • Beauty Is Bad: All the supermen are described as very charismatic.
  • Beware the Superman: Gary cites a few cases of aliens who tried messing with their genes and ended up extinct or devastated in the aftermath. Sure enough, many of the superhumans cause nothing but trouble for the world at large.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Khan is stopped and the world is saved but Isis dies and Khan is still alive, ready to cause trouble when and wherever he wakes up.
  • Call-Back: The second book opens with Roberta trying to sabotage a rocket, just like Gary Seven did in Assignment: Earth.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Khan is more than willing to kill the world. His only regret is that he has to be secretive about it.
  • The Chessmaster: Gary Seven shows shades of this, playing the superhumans against each other and outwitting Khan in the long run.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Isis takes down two trained guards before they even notice they're under attack with her bare hands.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Poor Gary is thrown in the back of a flatbed and driven across part of India during the middle of the day, chained up in a cage and injected with a truth serum that causes constant pain until secrets are divulged.
  • Continuity Porn: Cox references everything from the disappearance of a marine biologist to some Ferengi that crashed in Nevada, to say nothing of the countless historical references.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Dr. Donald Williams, who delivered the modified strep-A recipe to Khan is then used to test it. A few agonizing minutes later, he's dead.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Gary drops these from time to time, usually as a justification for what agenda he's working on at the time. Discussed by Roberta, who complains that Gary constantly cites examples she's never heard of and can hardly check up on.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Khan effortlessly takes out several Soviet soldiers in Moscow while trying to uncover a plot to assassinate Gorbachev.
  • Designer Babies: The children of Chrysalis are born naturally, though the embryos are altered and spliced with new DNA.
  • Driven to Suicide: Randy Morrison ends up completely insane and kills himself to evade capture from imaginary foes.
  • Doomsday Device: A couple pop up, both in Khans hands:
    • Chrysalis engineered a virulent strain of streptococcus to cleanse the world of flawed humanity so the superhumans can take over quickly and cleanly. Khan later gets the formula and attempts to carry out the ultimate plan, but is stopped by another group of superhumans.
    • A device created to close holes in the ozone layer is repurposed to open holes in the ozone layer, allowing Khan to, in his own words, "slit the worlds throat."
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Chrysalis base is a giant underground research facility with labs, a nuclear reactor, an underground garden and even several classrooms. Great lengths have been taken to make it a nice place to live to the scientists there.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The modified strand of strep-A would kill every human on the planet to make way for the new breed of humanity.
  • Enemy Civil War: Gary Seven does his best to play the supermen against each other. None of them trust each other, so it works quite well.
  • Evil Overlord: The supermen all try to become one. Khan is the most successful, controlling much of Asia.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Chrysalis seeks to create a new breed of humanity to inherit the world.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The superhumans seem to spend more time fighting each other than they do fighting the rest of humanity.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Once the news about his biological weapons research comes out, the U.S. and Russia begin to openly attack Khan, despite his warnings about the Morning Star weapon. Considering that he'd already shown his intention to wipe out all regular humans anyways, they've got nothing left to lose.
  • The Good Chancellor: Ament tries to be this for Khan and at first it works. But after Khan begins his war with the other supers, he begins to ignore her advice more and more. Predictably, this ends poorly for him.
  • Karmic Death: Vasily Hunyadi is killed in a sarin gas attack, the same type of gas he'd been using in his ethnic cleansing campaign in the Balkans. He even remarks on the irony shortly before he dies.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Gary Seven. He cares deeply for Isis and can understand her. It's implied he can understand other earth felines as well.
  • Mark of the Beast: General Morrison views his avian eyes as proof that the New World Order exists.
  • Meaningful Name: Ament. As Gary Seven explains, "Ament means 'hidden goddess' and is just one of many alternative names for the Egyptian goddess, Isis."
  • Right-Hand Cat: Isis is a very competent agent, helped by the fact that nobody besides Gary and Roberta knows how intelligent she really is.
    • Roberta gets one of her own when she takes over at the end of the second book. Ramses, along with Isis, is presumably from the same alien planet Gary Seven is from.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: The children of Chrysalis believe that they're entitled to rule and later be the sole inhabitants of the planet because they are superior to humanity.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: One of the superhumans, Randy "Hawkeye" Morrison, becomes one out due to paranoid fear of the UN New World Order.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Chrysalis has a nuclear fission reactor that can double as this if the need arises.
  • Save the Villain: Gary Seven refuses to outright murder anyone.
  • Saving the World: The ultimate goal of Gary Seven and the Aegis.
  • Secret War: The Eugenics Wars went unnoticed by the population at large, mostly being dismissed as one of the many brushfire conflicts of the 1990s.
  • Shown Their Work: Most chapters have authors notes in the back of the book explaining how what happened fits in with historical events of the time.
  • Smug Super: All of the superhumans, but Khan takes the cake.
  • The Social Darwinist: An attitude by the scientists regarding their new breed of humanity. The superhumans share this view, reasoning that they're superior and thus more worthy to inherit the planet.
  • Super Strength: Something the children of Chrysalis have in common. One of the toddlers almost broke Robertas fingers by accident.
  • Suicide Mission: Chen Tiejun and her amazons undertake one to destroy Chrysalis Island and the modified strep-A.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: The Servo can tranquilize people, communicate with other servos, interface with the Beta-5, teleport people and gunpowder, vaporize sections of catwalk, cut through a metal door and functions as a pen.
  • Take Over the World: Kaur's ultimate goal for the superhumans, later taken up by Khan.
  • Taking You with Me: The whole point of the Morning Star weapon. Should anyone try to depose Khan, he'll activate the system and set it to destroy all of Earth's ozone layer.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: The Chrysalis kids started as cute, precocious, good-natured kids. Then in the real world they grew up as despots, warlords or just plain insane.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Isis can turn into an (apparently) human woman, though she stays in cat form most of the time. She spends most of the second volume pretending to be Ament, one of Khans most trusted advisers.
  • We Can Rule Together: Khan attempts to rally the other superhumans to his cause, preaching his vision of a new world with them at the front. The others are not impressed and chafe at the idea of submitting to Khan.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Khan starts out as one when he rises to power in India. He wants to overthrow all world governments, wipe out his rival supers, and bring ordinary humans under his heel. All in the name of uniting humanity, overcoming our ethnic/religious/political differences and creating a world paradise from which to explore the stars.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: By the time Gary and Roberta infiltrate Chrysalis, they're already got several classes of superchildren and modified strep-A is being produced.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Upon getting the recipe for the new strain of streptococcus, Khan has his scientist test it on the man who delivered it to him.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Gary attempted to recruit Khan as an agent. Khan proved too bloodthirsty and unpredictable.
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