Star Trek: The Klingon Gambit (1981) – Robert E. Vardeman


It’s time for another journey where no one has gone before, with another non-canon adventure with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Though written before the previous novel, The Entropy Effect was released first, which is probably a good thing, because this one just didn’t feel like it was executed properly. It is a good could-have been, but misses out by not actually feeling like Star Trek, despite the name on the cover.

This story is set somewhere in the timeframe of the 3rd season, and finds the Enterprise and her crew arriving at a strange planet, only to discover a Vulcan science ship with its entire crew dead, though no one can tell how, and a massive Klingon super dreadnought in orbit.

There is no sign of a previous civilization on the planet except for a lone structure, a massive, mysterious black pyramid.

No sooner has the Enterprise settled into orbit than everyone begins to behave erratically. This may have been a blessing to the author, because he doesn’t seem to have the strongest handle on the characters. Though, to have them act out of character, or to follow their passions, beliefs, and fears as we learn they are actually doing, I think a better understanding of the crew would have been needed.

The big three, Kirk, Spock and McCoy, definitely don’t ring true, though of the trio, McCoy seems closest to being right. But neither Kirk, nor Spock feels like the characters we know and love, and we’ve seen Spock behave the way he does in this book before, This Side of Paradise (though it’s taken a bit to the extreme here) but still, there’s a basis for character behavior.


And then there are the smaller shipboard details, they just don’t feel right. That, however, I am willing to chart up to the fact that it was early days for the book series, and perhaps the title wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been. Now, of course, there is a reality to this universe, created by decades of writing, series and movies, back when this book was written there was only the three seasons, one movie, and Paramount didn’t realize what a cash cow they could have if they treated the material and the fans properly. (They’ve mostly learned).

Where I enjoyed The Entropy Effect, the 158 pages of this book felt really tough to get through. It simply wasn’t Star Trek, and wasn’t enjoyable as a Trek title.

Still, early days, and so many adventures to come…

I’m looking forward to some of the more recent novels, because I bet a majority of them read really well, I do know that there are some amazing titles coming up, including A.C. Crispin’s Yesterday’s Son.

I shall continue to boldly go…







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