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The Great Bird of the Galaxy writes a Star Trek novel!

The novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is an adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, written by Gene Roddenberry. The first Star Trek novel from Pocket Books, it was first published in paperback in December 1979.


From the book jacket
The writer-producer who created Mr. Spock and all the other Star Trek characters – who invented the starship Enterprise, who gave the show its look, its ideals – puts it all together again here in his first Star Trek novel!
Their first five-year mission is over. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, all the crew have scattered to other jobs or other lives. Now they are together again on a fabulously refitted USS Enterprise as an incredibly destructive power threatens Earth and the Human race.
From the Australian edition's book jacket
It came from an unexpected quarter of the galaxy.
It ignored all attempts to communicate with it.
And it annihilated all opposition with energy bolts of unimaginable ferocity.
Computer projections showed that it would enter the solar system in precisely three days.
The USS Enterprise, refitting in dry dock, was the only craft that Starfleet Command could send to intercept the Cloud in time…

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.

Admiral James Kirk, on a break from the Admiralty, relaxes in Africa at the world famous museum city, Alexandria. He slowly begins to receive a signal from Starfleet Command through a senceiver implant in his brain. The information plays out in his mind, of Klingon K't'inga-class cruisers destroyed by a powerful cloud in space heading towards Earth. Meanwhile on Vulcan, Spock kneels before the Vulcan masters on Gol. He is about to achieve kolinahr, when a powerful consciousness touches his mind. Spock telepathically senses Kirk's thoughts of the attack on the Klingons. After a mind meld, the Vulcan Master T'Sai sends Spock away without achieving kolinahr.

Kirk contacts his associate, Vice Admiral Lori Ciana, whom he has been involved with for the two-and-a-half years since the end of the Enterprise mission. She informs him that Admiral Heihachiro Nogura plans to launch the Enterprise to intercept the cloud. Kirk goes to Starfleet headquarters and convinces Nogura to hand command of the Enterprise over to him.

Once aboard the Enterprise, Kirk informs Captain Will Decker that he is assuming command. Decker is unhappy with the decision, but remains aboard as first officer. Suddenly, disaster strikes when the transporter malfunctions. Admiral Ciana and the Vulcan science officer Sonak are both killed. Later on the rec deck, Kirk briefs the crew on the cloud. Unexpectedly, the crew witnesses the destruction of Epsilon IX at the hands of that same cloud as the event occurs.

After the transporter is repaired, new crew members beam aboard. Lieutenant Ilia, a Deltan and former lover of Decker, takes the navigator position. Then Leonard McCoy beams aboard, after being drafted back into service by Kirk. He resumes his position as CMO.

With the crew finally together, the Enterprise leaves orbital dock. Once the ship's engages warp drive, a wormhole appears. The Enterprise is trapped inside, on a collision course with an asteroid. Torpedoes are fired and the asteroid is destroyed, freeing the ship. However, the warp engines are down.

A shuttle docks with the Enterprise. The crew is shocked to find Spock has come aboard. Spock immediately gets to work on fixing the engines, and the Enterprise warps towards interception with the cloud. Spock reveals he has been in mental contact with the cloud and senses perfect logic.

The Enterprise intercepts the cloud, and they are immediately scanned. The cloud returns no response to friendship messages and fires on the Enterprise. The force field holds and the Enterprise survives, however power is severely drained. The cloud fires again, but at the last second the energy bolt fades from sight. The cloud has received and understood friendship messages.

The Enterprise enters the cloud. Sensors detect an object at the cloud's center. Kirk risks a scan, and the cloud responds by sending a green energy probe to the bridge. It begins scanning the computer. A security officer attempts to stop it, but the probe lashes out at him and he vanishes. Spock intervenes when it attempts to scan his console, to prevent it from learning Earth's defenses. The probe attacks Spock, but Ilia interferes. She too vanishes, and the probe with her.

A tractor beam pulls the Enterprise inside the object at the center of the cloud. Once inside, the "intruder alert" alarm sounds. Inside Ilia's quarters, a probe identical to her in appearance is found claiming to be sent by Vejur to observe the carbon based units infecting Enterprise. She explains that Vejur is heading towards Earth to find the "Creator" and join with him. Kirk assigns Decker the task of learning as much information from the Ilia-probe as possible.

Spock secretly leaves the ship in a spacesuit, intent on mind melding with Vejur. He passes through an elaborate gallery of Vejur's journey, seeing stars and entire planets. After finding a sensor and melding with it, Spock discovers Vejur's journey began at a planet of living machines, and concludes that the entire vessel is a lifeform. Vejur is the ship itself. Vejur senses Spock's presence, and Spock is injured during the meld. Kirk, now in a spacesuit, leaves the ship to find Spock, when the Ilia-probe reveals Vejur is sending Spock back to the Enterprise. There, Spock reveals Vejur has accumulated vast knowledge, but without the ability to feel that knowledge was useless, leaving Vejur without the answers it needs.

Background information[]

  • Roddenberry is billed in the book jacket blurb by his nickname, "Great bird of the galaxy". This was the only Star Trek novel written by Roddenberry – the abortive The God-Thing would have been another.
  • This was the first Pocket Books Trek novel (though the imprint wouldn't officially begin its novel series until The Entropy Effect in 1981, due to previous license-holder Bantam Books still being scheduled to publish the three remaining novels under its license).
  • In addition to its paperback release, the novelization was also briefly issued as a hardcover, slip-cased, numbered limited edition. This edition was dedicated to Majel Barrett.
  • The original UK and Australian editions, from Futura Publications, contain an insert of color plates: ten captioned publicity stills from the movie. These editions also have a brief addition to the main text about Vice Admiral Lori Ciana, better explaining how she went about getting herself onto Kirk's crew. (e.g. "She must have taken a temporary rank reduction to fill the zeno-psychology vacancy aboard."(p.56, Futura edition)
  • All editions share a typographical error – "Ciani" – when first introducing the character of Ciana.
  • In Admiral Kirk's preface, he mentions that during his five-year mission, 94 of his crew perished. While this number equates, as it is higher than the number of people we know of dying in Star Trek: The Original Series, many later comics and novels have featured numerous crew deaths that exceed this number.
  • In his preface, Kirk also establishes that his middle name is indeed "Tiberius".
  • Will Decker is revealed to be the son of Commodore Matt Decker. This information was not officially established in the film.
  • Spock began training to achieve kolinahr nine Vulcan seasons (2.8 Earth years) prior to this story. (Chapter Two, 1st footnote)
  • Before the personal encounter of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker and the Ilia-probe with the still-functioning Voyager 6 relic spacecraft at its heart, Roddenberry consistently uses the spelling Vejur for the "intruder's" name in the novel.
  • Neither mentioned nor referred to in movie and script, the Klingon battle cruiser received its K't'inga-class designation in the novel.
  • Due to Alan Dean Foster devising the original story upon which the movie and novel were based, Foster's status as a prolific writer of novelizations (including the entirety of the Star Trek Logs series), and confusion over the fact that Foster "ghost-wrote" for George Lucas the novelization of the first Star Wars film, it is sometimes erroneously suggested that Foster also wrote the novel for TMP. There is no indication of anyone other than Roddenberry writing the book.



James Kirk, 2270s

James Tiberius Kirk

James T. Kirk
Rear admiral, chief of Starfleet Operations.
Science Officer.
Leonard McCoy
Montgomery Scott
Chief Engineer.
Communications Officer.
Hikaru Sulu
Pavel Chekov
Chief of security.
Will Decker
Captain, temporary grade reduction to Commander.
Janice Rand
Transporter chief.
Also known as V'ger. Vejur seeks the creator.


Sonak dead

The death of Sonak and Lori Ciana

Lori Ciana (β)
A Starfleet vice admiral in 2272 assigned as Rear Admiral James T. Kirk's commanding officer in his post as chief of Starfleet Operations (as well as his ex-lover, for some of the two-and-a-half years since he relinquished captaincy). She died in a transporter accident along with Commander Sonak when they were attempting to board the Enterprise.
The character who died on the transporter was seen in the movie, but no reference was made to her rank or status (indeed, Kirk only appears to recognize Sonak by name). In Roddenberry's draft, she was being sent by Nogura to temper Kirk's enthusiasm for starship command – a role that ended up being performed by McCoy.
Starfleet commander assigned as Enterprise science officer.
Nogura, Heihachiro
Commander in chief of Starfleet in 2272.
Security officer.
Security officer, rank of ensign.
Called Perez in the movie.
Assistant engineer.
Assistant engineer.
Named for British Star Trek fan, Janet Quarton, who also inspired the name for Q.
Commander of the Epsilon IX station.
Rhaandarite ensign

The alien Rhaandarite boy

Rhaandarite ensign (USS Enterprise Rhaandarite ops ensign 1)
Only referred to as ensign here. His species is not established in this novelization.
Vulcan master.
Libyan scholar
Earth civilian.


Matt Decker
Will Decker's father.
Samuel Kirk
Jim Kirk's grandfather.


Africa; Alexandria; Constitution-class; Egyptisraeli Museum; five-year mission; Humans; Klingons; K't'inga-class; mind meld; oath of celibacy; perscan device; senceiver implant; Starfleet; STF 7997B; Vulcan (planet); Vulcans; wormhole

Epsilon IX station
Outpost near the Klingon border.
Dr. McCoy spent years researching the medical knowledge of the Fabrini.
Mountain plateau where Vulcans can achieve kolinahr.
Ancient Vulcan discipline intended to achieve total logic by eliminating all emotions.
Mediterranean Alliance
A political unit in southern Europe located in the Mediterranean region and encompassing at least one former nation-state, Gibraltar, during the 2270s. Admiral Kirk was contacted by Starfleet during an excursion to Gibraltar, which is noted to be a member of this alliance.
Gibraltar hydroelectric complex
In the twenty-first century, The Mediterranean Alliance built a dam across the strait of Gibraltar. This lowered the Mediterranean Sea by 60 meters, creating vast amounts of new land for farming and other uses, and enough hydroelectric power to supply all of southern Europe, and north Africa. It also exposed pre-Minoan ruins, and the Library of Alexandria.
Mind Control Revolts
In the early-21st century, behavior-control implants were politicized in some parts of the world, and this lead to violent revolts beginning in 2043 and ending four years later. Mind-control technology was abandoned on Earth following these revolts.
New Humans
In the early-23rd century, society was evolving to a point where large numbers of "New Humans", telepathically linked as a group mind, represented a sizable portion of Human society. Although more intelligent than normal Humans, these people proved incapable of deep space exploration, lacking the ability to bear encounters with more advanced beings than themselves – for all their intelligence, aloofness was a hindrance to them.
Alien Moon Base
In an apparent homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, a passing mention is made to the past discovery that an unknown race of "space voyagers" had used the Earth's moon as a base and conducted some manner of genetic experiments on Human ancestors a million or more years previous.
Vulcan term for friend, brother, and/or lover.
This term, originated in Roddenberry's work, was used in several later novels by different authors.


Voyager VI falls into a black hole and contact is lost.
Mind Control Revolts
Five-year mission ends. Kirk is promoted to admiral. Spock and McCoy leave Starfleet.
The events of this novel.

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