Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) – Gene Roddenberry


I love my classic Trek, and since they aren’t making anymore of them, I decided that perhaps I’d check in with the Pocket Book series, and read, or in some cases, re-read some of these non-canon adventures of Kirk and Company.

Pocket Books picked up the rights for Star Trek novels in 1979, with the adaptation of the first film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but they weren’t permitted to release original novels for another two years. So I dug in to Star Trek number one, written by the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. It’s based on the screenplay by Alan Dean Foster and Harold Livingston, and poses a bit of an interesting question… If Roddenberry created the series, isn’t the book canon? Even with some decidedly different beats from the film.

A massive object is approaching Earth, it has destroyed a Klingon patrol, and a Federation station, the only ship in interception range is the U.S.S. Enterprise, unfortunately, her refit and rebuild isn’t complete yet, and its new captain, Will Decker, has never faced an unknown like this.

Obsessed with the idea of getting his ship back, and getting away from the desk and earth-bound existence that his promotion has caused, James T. Kirk argues for his captaincy, and with his old crew at his side, including a chilling aloof and emotionally distant Spock, launch to confront an entity that is known as Vejur.

The novel features some differences and some expansions on the tale told in the film. For instance, apparently, Kirk has something called a senceiver in his brain, which the Federation uses only for alerts of heightened emergency. This is how he is informed of the destruction of the Klingon ships and the energy cloud that surrounds Vejur.


And it should come as no surprise that Kirk was having a relationship with a woman, Lori Ciani, a vice-admiral. After Kirk arrives on Enterprise, there’s a transporter incident that kills the science officer, Sonak, and a woman who was transporting up to take an assignment as well… this was Lori.

In the space of a few hours, or chapters, everything that would have tied Kirk to Earth is severed, he’s free to return unfettered to the Enterprise, but then has to deal with his obsession of reclaiming command and doing what is best for the ship, crew and Earth if they are to survive.

As the Enterprise closes on the intruder, with tests, repairs, and workarounds taking place as the ship hasn’t even had a shakedown cruise yet, Spock meditates on his existence, the questions that plague him, and he has reflections on his crew as well as feeling his mind brush up against that of Vejur’s.

As they enter the energy cloud, Vejur sends a probe, claiming the life and body of the ship’s Deltan navigator, Ilia, who is returned to the Enterprise in the form of a probe. One that Kirk thinks Decker, the navigator’s former love, may be able to communicate with, perhaps reach Ilia’s memory patterns, and help them understand Vejur.

Through the course of his attempt, it seems Will even has sex with the probe… There was so much more going on here than we saw in the movie! Her consciousness even resurfaces during the final confrontation with Vejur!

This was a fun read, and a great way to slip into the Pocket Book’s universe of Star Trek…

Cast members on set of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

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