"Vulcan - like going to a monastery or Abbey; a punishment of silence and emotional repression that surfaces every seven years. Vulcan itself? Irrepressibly hot; full of clones that repress their emotions. The deserts are beautiful and the architecture impressive. The people are just too afraid of their passions to feel them." - Cadet Nathaniel Hawkins.
Vulcans are one of the founder races of the Federation. April 4th 2063 saw the Vulcans making First Contact with Zephram Cochrane and the people of Earth. Vulcan civilisation is thousands of years older then human. Vulcans were once passionate, violent people who were ruled by their emotions. This path to self-destruction was eventually halted by the philosophy of Surak. Surak united the people of Vulcan, teaching them logic and discipline. One group of Vulcans did not accept this philosophy, they took starships and fled to the stars. They became the Romulans.
The Planet Vulcan is an M-class planet towards the centre of the Federation. Vulcan is an arid desert planet, Shir Kahr is the planetary capital. Many of the other primary homeworlds of the Federation are located near Vulcan: Earth, Tellar, Axanar, Andor, Betazed and Alpha Centauri [as established in DS9`s In The Pale Moonlight]. Vulcan has no moons. The planet has active volcanoes, ancient ruins, electrical sand fire storms and lava lakes. The climate on Vulcan is like Death Valley meets the Sahara desert, with a lower oxygen content in the air. Added to all this the gravity is higher, so humans can find the climate of Vulcan to be 'challenging' and tri-ox injections may be necessary.
Vulcan society is a fascinating mixture of logic and ritual. Vulcans are a telepathic race, their mental skills are considered to be amongst the most powerful of the Federation races. Vulcans are physically stronger from the higher gravity of Vulcan compared to Earth. Some inform Vulcans of a certain age practice ritual suicide. Vulcan youths are taught mental discipline by vulcan masters. These teachings ultimately give a Vulcan mental control over their emotions, trained mental skills such as mind-meld and the Vulcan Nerve Pinch as well as an almost unparalleled concentration and problem solving ability. Emotional displays are frowned upon in Vulcan society. Every seventh year of his adult life, a vulcan male must endure the fires of Pon Farr, when the mating impulse overpowers even the mental discipline of a vulcan. During this time a vulcan must mate or die. Vulcans have their mates selected for them at age seven, at this point the two are bonded telepathically: to return to be bonded later in their lives.
Vulcans are emotional beings, more so than humans. It is their extremes of emotion that made them seek out the straitjacket of logic to restrain these excesses. Without this restraint, the Vulcan people would have destroyed each other. It is through the prism of this emotional maelstrom and logical restraint that the Vulcans view other races. Species such as humans allow their emotions to 'run wild' like the Vulcans before Surak. Vulcans would seem to look down their noses at such flagrant emotional displays as it is a reminder to them of what the Vulcans once were. It is also for this reason that Vulcans are generally pacifists. Along with the Deltans and Betazoids, the Vulcans have been building a pacifist bloc in the Federation Council to give these pacifist beliefs more expression.
Vulcans are also natually curious of the universe around them. The Vulcan Academy of Science is renown throughout the Federation. The Vulcan people have many science vessels of their own, registered seperately from Starfleet. Although not all Vulcans choose to, a noticeable amount of Vulcans join Starfleet to explore the galaxy. Vulcans are also exceptional diplomats, making First Contact with many races, including some with whom the Federation has not had much contact, such as the Cardassians [established in DS9's Destiny: Cardassian poet Iloja of Prim].
Mind melds are the joining of a Vulcan mind to another, usually with a relative or close friend. Cadet Nathaniel Hawkins had the rare privilege of a Vulcan mind meld from fellow officer cadet T'daen. The Vulcan felt Hawkins did not understand the Vulcan people from his human perpective and felt a mind-meld would give a better one. Hawkins describes it thus:
"We had all read about the words of a mind meld: 'My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts; our minds one and together' but what was never really explained was the process of what happened next. The 32.78 Celcius body temperature means the fingers feel a little cold on my face, adopting the spread posture we had seen in documentaries. T'daen said the words of the mind meld and I only really heard the first line. The effects are surprisingly fast; a strange feeling of warmth and a sense of being able to both see T'daen through my eyes, yet also see my face through hers. Then came the part that was the hardest to put into words: the sharing of thoughts; having both of the essences that are our two personalities, shared across two sets of memories and knowledges. Was it a case of suddenly knowing all of T'daen's life history? No. No more than you recall your entire life story every minute of every day. I was quite fascinated that our uniforms look the same through her eyes as mine, although her sense of smell was infinitely more sensitive. I felt the emotions running strongly within her and it made the point she wanted to make: that Vulcans are strongly emotional and have logic as a means to keep them in check. My own emotionality was seen as a little out of control by comparison."
Vulcan medicine states that by the careful application of pressure, the body can heal itself. Variations of this include the Vulcan Nerve Pinch and meditation through pressure point stimulation. The techniques, including surah'than and the Khavorta posture require specific breathing techniques and posture.
Vulcan Science Academy
The Vulcan Science Academy is one of the principal scientific institutions of the Federation. The VSA has never had a Vulcan decline an invitation to join their numbers. The Academy has its own fleet of science vessels and their voyages have been as diverse and distant as any Starfleet ship.
There can be a perceived air of snobbery with regards the VSA and Starfleet, this is much in the vein of similar competitive academic institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge Universities compared to other universities in the UK during the 20th and 21st centuries. It is of historical record that the VSA does actively compete to collect the most able Vulcan minds to their institute.
The Vulcan Science Academy has been known to commission its own experimental starship designs (see Jellyfish in Star Trek 2009) and studied fields as diverse as transporter theory and archaeology.
Current Chancellor of the VSA is Professor Víshal, professor of subspace sciences. The professor underwent Kohlinar and concentrated on his studies, making only the comment that the elimination of emotions kept his mind focussed on the pure, scientific nature of subspace. The professorís latest studies are focussed on subspace and multi-verse theory. His laboratory equipment are said to be the most advanced in the Federation.
One of the more controversial lecturers at the VSA, and certainly one the institution keeps at a low profile, is Doctor Dípel. Dípel is one of the "V'tosh ka'tur" or "Vulcans without logic". For a lecturer to not be following the philosophy of Surak is controversial enough, but to be a part of the VSA is something else. Doctor Dípel studies existential philosophy and comparative psychology, demonstrating the differences to Vulcan students of the mindsets of other races. One other famous member of the V'tosh ka'tur was Sybok, son of Sarek.
The Vulcan Science Academy has buildings across Vulcan and annexes on other worlds for its various departments. Notable off-world annexes are on Earth and Delta IV.
Vulcan has one of the standing seats on the United Federation of Planetsí Security Council. A voice of moderation, Vulcan has advocated for the abolition of the Ferasan De-Militarised Zone and for discussions with the Interstellar Concordium. Vulcan is seen as the pacifist member of the Federation, along with the Betazoids, Deltans and Aenar, Vulcan has pressed for the de-militarisation of Starfleet and the de-centralisation of facilities away from Earth.
Other politicians and groups on Vulcan have adopted the phrase Ďwe are here to serveí, promoting the image of Vulcan as facilitators to the existence of the Federation. This stands opposite the opinions of those who see Vulcan as being portrayed as subservient to the humans.
Due to the high-standing of Vulcan ambassador Sarek, the Vulcan people have had the ear of several Federation Presidents and senior Starfleet personnel.
Ambassador Sarek. Father to Ambassador Spock and husband to Amanda. The Ambassador has been busy of late with diplomacy towards the Klingons and Legarans. Sarek has been guiding his son, Spock, in the fine art of diplomacy.
Ambassador Spock. Famed former Starfleet Captain who brought Starfleet to the negotiating table with their former enemy. After the initial success with Azetbur at Khitomer, the Ambassador has found the real challenge has been keeping the momentum going. Recently, Ambassador Spock travelled to Ab-Tzenketh to have a formal conference and First Contact with the Tzenkethi people. The meeting did not go as planned and relations have chilled.
Ambassador Soval (retired). Another famous Vulcan whose relations with the United Federation of Planets goes back to its conception in the 22nd Century. The Ambassador worked with Jonathan Archer many times when Archer was Captain of Enterprise NX-01; this friendship continued onwards to when it was Admiral Archer, and later still President Archer. Soval spent much time on Earth and became a strong believer in the Human race. Once the Coalition of Planets was formed, Soval was at the forefront - as he was for the United Federation of Planets. Soval helped in preventing Vulcan from leaving the Federation during the events of the Four Year War with the Klingon Empire. Now retired and over 210 years old, Soval is now rarely seen in public and is enjoying a well-earned rest.
The Vulcans are the original Star Trek alien species and right from the start I was always going to include them. With the Interim Years following on from the events left off by Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Ambassadors Sarek and Spock were always going to be mentioned, if not front and centre.
As a founder member of the United Federation of Planets, the Vulcan people play a central role in the political and cultural make-up of the Federation. As seen in the below clip from Axanar, the Vulcans nearly withdrew from the Federation in the 2240s and this is still profoundly felt by the other Federation founder members. Ringships. What can I say? I love the Vulcan Ringships as a unique design in the Federation and have no doubts those types of ship are still firmly in service with the Vulcans.
T'daen (formerly spelled in my stories as Taedaen amended here to a more Vulcan style of name) was always one of my original Interim Years characters and her inclusion in this article was unavoidable. Inspired by my favourite Vulcan character, Saavik, T'daen was going to be Hawkins' First Officer - a role taken on by the Deltan Ilani. Nevertheless, I feel T'daen has become an important counterweight in the cultural make-up of the Sheffield.
I always thought that I would not have as much of Vulcan, feeling like the climate wouldn't be my favourite personally. In light of having now had four holidays in Egypt, I think I might fare a little better than at first thought. Like the Klingons, we actualy know less about the Vulcans than we think. Some of the best Star Trek episodes and movies, including Star Trek III, Star Trek (2009), Amok Time, Unification, The Forge, The Awakening and Kir'shara amongst them. The Interim Years will explore more about this logical race.
The JJ Abrams and Star Trek: Discovery productions have moved forwards with the look of the Vulcan wardrobe, moving away from the flowing cloaks of the classic Star Trek series and movies to a more practical look for the 23rd and 24th Centuries. The asymmetrical suit designed for Spock Prime in the 2009 Star Trek movie (see right) is an example of this. As with each new Star Trek series and movie, so the Vulcan race has become more detailed and shown to have a wider culture than was first shown in the 1960s.
By 2312 the Vulcans will be part of a more pacifist movement of the Federation Council to move away from the hostilities that coloured the last half of the 23rd Century. Ambassadors Sarek and Spock will both be looking to lose the dreadnoughts and cowboy attitudes to adopt a more mature and measured diplomatic tone. Spock will be more pratical for Starfleet, given his experience, where Sarek shows his diplomatic skills from a long career.