Reviewer: Milkyway Signed
Chapter 8: Torn Asunder
Vulcan blood vessels are more dilated than Humans. The larger blood vessels are the reason Vulcan blood pressure is lower. The dilated blood vessels and fast heart rate also play a key role in regulating Vulcan body temperature. A standard 91°F body temperature is maintained by the internal cooling mechanism of fast blood circulation. (Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual)
Vulcans do not have sweat glands, and cannot rely on evaporation as a means of cooling their bodies in the harsh heat of their planet’s desert climate. Expelling heat through radiation is insufficient. Vulcans evolved an internal cooling mechanism. With an average body temperature of 91°F, the high blood flow circulates cool blood throughout their body. (Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual) This systematic means of cooling gives credence to McCoy’s comment “that green ice water you call blood”. (TOS: “The Paradise Syndrome”)
And while the Manual is a fan-madle publication and most fan-made publications are considered non-canon, Paramount used several entries from this particular book in subsequent series, making the book ... still non-canon but closer than most fan works, and many long-time fans have used the book as "proof" that Vulcan body temperature is lower than that of humans.
Another valid evidence gives the TOS Episode Naked time. More concretelly the biobed readouts in "The Naked Time." If you recall that episode, when Joe Tormolen and Spock get back from the planet, McCoy checks them both out. A screenshot of the biobed monitor shows that the temperature reading for Tormolen is significantly higher than it is for Spock. I'd take this as definitive evidence that Vulcan body temperature is lower than that of humans.
HOWEVER it's your story - and a wonderful one - and I will continue to enjoy it and I am sorry that I have brought it up. The body temperature thing is certainly up to interpretation.;) It was such a mundane detail, which shouldn't matter.
I love your story, please continue!Author's Response:
No no! Please! This is the cool thing about science fiction rather than fantasy, it's not just: it's magic! One has to do the hard work. Like a puzzle. Science is in the name. (Actually, people call it speculative fiction now, but I keep saying sci fi because it annoys those people no end.)
What really threw me is that after some, um, 25 or more years, on and off, of reading and writing this universe in fanzines and fanfiction I have never seen a story with Spock having a lower body temperature. So it just blew my mind that it could be canon. I was like, WHA? How did I miss that?
The biggest adjustment to thinking of him cooler, for me (and I'm sure if you are used to the opposite, trying to work with the notion of warmer) is the shift in all the symbolism regarding him. Especially as soon as touch and intimacy are involved. I would make him 120F if I could, honestly. That's the logical temperature for him given how hot Vulcan is, but a human couldn't sleep with him. They'd be injured. You'd have to use one of those chastity sheet things like from Like Water for Chocolate with a hole in it, except it would be an infrared thermal blanket with a hole in it. It would be so awkward. :-D
So, I compromise and make him a like a feverish human, which is more or less copying everything I've ever read. I'm so original that way. But that works symbolically for me. Spock is feverish in that he's a fever time bomb because of Pon Farr. He's cold emotionally but warm to snuggle up to whether he wants to be or not. That contrast creates balance. If one were listing qualities and said, well, he's emotionally cold, and cold to the touch. I'd be like, and . . . what else? I need a contrast to get the old juices fired up.
Fever warm is welcoming, embracing, nurturing. 91F is cold. Like a fresh corpse, or an android, or metal, which harkens to robots, machines. It matches Spock, but in a way that piles onto his other natures, not works to balance it. This is where I run into a wall of, gee, how would one write that? Anyway, that's solely my issue, one of many issues I have, personal and otherwise.
Thinking more I realize I'm probably species-ist here. Poor Spock is having the same experience in reverse. Jim is cold. But even that works for me. Since Spock has this threat of going into heat, he quenches himself on Kirk. So the cold thing doesn't come up the same way as it does when I reverse it. Yeah, probably species-ist.
Where that cold body and hot environment thing would work is a story on Vulcan. There I could see making that contrast into something. Some kind of wild defiance of a brutal world, or something.
As to the quotes you pulled. The first bolded one doesn't do anything. Fast blood flow just means heat is being evenly distributed internal to the system. So in the case of a humanoid, their head and feet and torso will all measure similar temps. But if that being is hot, they are hot everwhere and will stay that way. Moving blood around inside the body doesn't move heat out of the body. I'm not even convinced of the explanation of the blood pressure. I'm pretty sure elasticity rather than diameter is more important. The reason dilating the vessels on a human lowers pressure is it changes the diameter from the norm, causing a deficit of fluid relative to the volume of space it occupies. I think the person who wrote that had a weak grasp of science. Actually, I'm certain they did.
>Expelling heat through radiation is insufficient.
It's impossible unless it's nighttime and the ambient air temperature is below 91F. Heat will always radiate into the cooler system. Use of insufficient here further makes me not trust that writer's grasp of things.
>Vulcans evolved an internal cooling mechanism.
That is the money shot. I'd summarize that as: "It's magic."
If I were concocting a better line to insert here, I'd go for "endothermic chemical reaction in the blood." And then I'd stop there. It's the best explanation, and if you tried to justify it, it's going to run into trouble fast.
The main trouble being producing enough component compounds that will then react in the blood requires, by itself, enormous amounts of energy. Vulcans would need energy input to generate the compounds to do the cooling and all energy input in a humanoid is going to generate waste heat. So, you are going to run into what is called the diminishing horizon, where you boost all of your inputs but the cost of those processes involved pushes the goal out ahead of you again and you never reach your goal. (Not even considering the problems of excretion of the resulting compound from that reaction.)
Unless, and this is the only way I can make this work. There is plant A and plant B each contain one of the chemicals needed for this endothermic reaction. You eat plant A in the morning and plant B later in the day (can't eat them at the same time, your stomach would freeze). Then your body stores them in separate organs and releases them into the blood through some mechanism like bonding to a heat sensitive enzyme so they are released to react as needed. This way the energy to produce the chemicals comes from some kind of external photosynthetic reaction (i.e. ample sunlight) rather than forcing the Vulcan body itself to become this workhorse chemical factory in order to make these compounds. But if this were the explanation those plants would be central to the culture. Worshiped in house shrines. Plastered on pediments downtown. It would be a thing.
I guess what I'm saying is I don't seen any cultural indication of an endothermic blood reaction. But I'm probably missing a more straightforward explanation. It is freezing cold in a desert at night, maybe that's part of the system . . . But if cold were part of the explanation, Spock's quarters would be freezing half the day and 125 the other half.
TL;DR: cold blood ain't free. :-D