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The Entropy Effect is a Pocket TOS novel, written by Vonda N. McIntyre. The first original novel published by Pocket Books, it was first released in June 1981.


From the book jacket
The Enterprise is summoned to transport a dangerous criminal from starbase prison to a rehabilitation center: brilliant physicist, Dr. Georges Mordreaux, accused of promising to send people back in time – then killing them instead.
But when Mordreaux escapes, bursts onto the bridge and kills Captain Kirk, Spock must journey back in time to avert disaster – before it occurs!
Now there's more at stake than just Kirk's life. Mordreaux's experiments have thrown the entire universe into a deadly time warp. Spock is fighting time … and the universe is closing in on itself with the relentless squeeze of …

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

A priority message summons the USS Enterprise to the mining colony Aleph Prime, interrupting Spock's study of a new singularity before he can confirm his findings, which seem to indicate that the Universe has less than a century of life left to it.

On Aleph Prime, prosecuting attorney Ian Braithewaite – who finds Spock oddly familiar – claims that no such message was sent; however, since the ship is now here, he asks Kirk to transport a dangerous prisoner to Rehab Colony Seven. Spock is surprised to learn that the prisoner is the noted scientist Dr Georges Mordreaux, who has been found guilty of murder and experimenting on unwilling subjects. Convinced that there's more to the story, Spock orders new security chief Mandala Flynn to have Mordreaux confined to a VIP cabin rather than the detention cells, and to discontinue the regime of drugs that have reduced him to a state of near catatonia.

Kirk is reunited with an old flame, Captain Hunter, and Sulu, who has been considering a transfer for some time, applies for and receives a transfer to Hunter's ship, the Aerfen. Before Sulu leaves, he and Flynn confess their love for each other, but agree that this is the best move for Sulu's career.

The Enterprise sets off for Rehab 7, but Scotty catches a glimpse of Spock in the transporter room when he should be on the bridge, and Spock refuses to explain the discrepancy. Mordreaux escapes from custody and forces his way onto the bridge, where he injures Braithewaite and shoots both Kirk and Flynn with spiderweb slugs, bullets that choke the Human nervous system with organo-metallic fibers. However, the security detail insists that Mordreaux never left his cabin, and a search turns up no sign of the gun. Kirk is soon brain-dead, and Spock convinces the reluctant Doctor Leonard McCoy to terminate life support; however, the semi-conscious Braithewaite misinterprets what he's seeing. Believing that he saw Spock on Aleph Prime before the Enterprise arrived, he becomes convinced that Spock and McCoy are in league with Mordreaux and have deliberately killed Kirk.

Spock questions Mordreaux, who reveals that he's invented a method of time travel that he used to send his friends into the past, where they felt they could find a better life. His discovery has been suppressed by higher-ups in the Federation who fear its potential as a weapon, and he was framed for murder and his research destroyed. It seems that a future version of Mordreaux is responsible for murdering Kirk, and the present-day version agrees to help Spock construct a time-changer to put matters right on condition that Spock not betray Mordreaux's friends.

Spock travels back in time, but fails to save Kirk – and he is spotted in the transporter room by Scott, rousing the engineer's suspicions when the past version of Spock claims never to have been there. Spock returns to the present, where Braithewaite and Scotty now believe that he and McCoy are conspiring to free Mordreaux. Hunter and Sulu return to the Enterprise to help investigate, just as Spock uses the time-changer to go further back – this time to Aleph Prime. McCoy tries to cover for him, but is eventually forced to admit the truth, and despite the lack of evidence, Hunter agrees to give Spock twelve hours in the past when Sulu speaks up on his behalf.

Spock bumps into the younger Braithewaite in Aleph Prime, explaining why the prosecutor believed he'd been there before. He tries to stop Mordreaux from sending the call that summoned the Enterprise, but discovers too late that he's stunned yet another version of Mordreaux, who had traveled back in time to stop his younger self from committing murder. Mordreaux explains that his experiments have caused the entropy effect that Spock noticed, shortening the Universe's life span to less than a century; the knowledge drove him mad, and he traveled back in time to take his revenge on those who'd allowed him to live – including Kirk, who helped Spock defend Mordreaux in the timeline in which he was sent to rehabilitation.

The older Mordreaux releases Spock from his promise, and Spock goes back one last time to convince the younger Mordreaux not to send his friends back through time in the first place. Mordreaux and his friends are skeptical until the older Mordreaux materializes before their eyes and crumbles to dust, his body finally succumbing to the strain of this dangerous means of time travel. Realizing that his older self found death preferable to living with what he'd done, the young Mordreaux agrees to abandon his research of his own accord. Spock returns to the present, where he destroys the time-changer and finds that the Universe is now safe, since none of these events ever happened.

Memorable quotes

"Hikaru, let me give you some advice. Nobody will believe in you for you."

- Mandala Flynn

"I shall endeavor not to return before I leave."

- Spock, in all seriousness, on his attempt at time travel

Background information

  • This was the first original Star Trek novel published by Pocket Books, and the first of hundreds to be published over the next few decades. It was published only two months after the final Bantam Books release, Death's Angel. Although Pocket had published the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in late 1979, it held off on publishing any original novels until Bantam released the final three novels of its contract.
  • This represents the first use of Sulu's first name, Hikaru. It was not officially established, however, until Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The original cover art of the novel also depicts a long-haired version of Sulu with a long Asian-style mustache, as he is depicted in the novel (because of a bet with Commander Flynn).
  • Other novels by the same author are particularly complimentary to Sulu, whom she described in prose in the novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as "the good-looking Asian man." Flynn (by that time promoted to captain, and given a command) is also mentioned in the novelizations Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock by the same author. (citation needededit)
  • Some of Sulu's back story is revealed in this novel. Sulu's mother is a consulting agronomist. His father is a poet. He was born on Earth (consistent with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), but spent his childhood and adolescence on a succession of colony planets. He receives his promotion to lieutenant commander here.
  • Sulu is shown here learning judo from Mandala Flynn. He was later seen on screen using a judo move on a security officer in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Sulu also uses a judo move in "The Infinite Vulcan", in which Kirk even asks Sulu to teach him that particular technique. The Pocket Books timeline places this novel after that episode, however this novel's stardate would place it before the events of "The Infinite Vulcan".
  • The minor character Ilya Nikolaievich is possibly a reference to the character Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a show which aired contemporaneously with Star Trek: The Original Series. Both shows were followed by post-cancellation syndication of the existing episodes, as well as feature films and novels based on each series; and among each show's viewer base were dedicated fans who together formed the burgeoning media fandom movement. The novel's author is a self-described "huge fan of the show" and particularly of Illya Kuryakin [1] and not only Ilya's name but also his physical description – "shorter than Sulu, but similar in build: compact and well-proportioned […] His heavy straight blond hair fell across his forehead" (p. 109) – hair-trigger reflexes, and Spock-like self-control are all notably reminiscent of David McCallum's Russian character. McIntyre's spelling of her character Ilya Nikolaievich's name is also a "correct" spelling of Kuryakin's first name and patronym in standard Cyrillic-to-English Latin transliteration and the Russian language rules for patronymic formation, [2] lending further support to the reading of the character in the novel as intentionally resembling the Man From U.N.C.L.E. character. (citation needededit)
  • This novel, written prior to the release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, strongly implies that Kirk has no children.
  • The crew of the Enterprise numbers four hundred thirty-five people at this point.
  • According to this novel, Vulcans don't lock their doors.
  • The audiobook abridgment removes the Sulu subplot – as a result, the cover of Triangle is used on the packaging.
  • The original cover art shows the crew in Star Trek: The Motion Picture-era uniforms and the TMP refit of the USS Enterprise, but the novel is set during the TOS time frame. Later novels suggest that the TMP-era uniforms were being introduced toward the end of the original five-year mission, but the movie explicitly indicates that the refit occurred after the mission's completion. This disconnect between cover art and setting continues across a number of the early Pocket Books releases.
  • A limited edition hardcover was printed by Gregg Press in 1984.
  • The novel was one of four to be re-released with an updated cover in late 2006 to honor Star Trek's 40th anniversary.

Cover gallery


Enterprise crew

Lieutenant Sulu

James T. Kirk 
Science Officer
Leonard McCoy 
Montgomery Scott 
Chief Engineer
Communications officer
Hikaru Sulu 
Pavel Chekov
Janice Rand 
Christine Chapel 
Mandala Flynn 
Chief of Security
Jenniver Aristeides 
Security officer
Maximo Alisaunder Arrunja 
Security officer
Bernardi al Auriga 
Security officer
Security officer
Security officer
Beatrice Smith 
Enterprise crew

Aerfen crew

Captain of Aerfen
Ilya Nikolaievich 
Aerfen crew

Aleph Prime characters

Ian Braithwaite 
Prosecuting Attorney
Georges Mordreaux 
Defense Attorney


Peter Kirk 
Nephew of James T. Kirk
A senior-class student during Kirk's time at Starfleet Academy


Enterprise, USS; Klingons; mind meld; Starfleet Academy; time travel; Vulcan

USS Aerfen (β
Starfleet fighter vessel commanded by Captain Hunter, part of a border patrol squadron.
Aleph Prime 
Federation mining colony.
A mostly neutral territory almost exactly equidistant from Federation, Romulan, and Klingon space.
Gamma Draconis VII
Federation border colony with a history of harassment by Klingons. Once home to Hikaru Sulu.
Federation university.
Trading vessel. Mandala Flynn's parents were part of its crew. The vessel was destroyed and no trace of them was ever found.
Rehabilitation Colony Seven

External links

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