Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) – Vonda N. McIntyre

Vonda McIntyre adapts her second Star Trek film to novel form, as I continue to boldy go with the non-canon adventures of James T. Kirk and company.

Featuring a passing tie-in to her own novel Entropy Effect with her character of Mandala Flynn hetting a mention, as well as her fixation on Sulu, this novel is something unique. It features the adapted screenplay, but for those familiar with the film, most of it doesn’t occur in the novel until halfway through the printed story.

We see the development of Saavik and David’s relationship, there’s an extra dose of foreboding as we learn what became of the experiment inside Regulus, and we spend lots of time with the crew on their return to Earth – Scotty travels home for his nephew, Peter’s funeral, Sulu wrestles with the loss of his first ship, the Excelsior, even though he maintains the rank of captain.

Spock is dead, McCoy is slowly being driven mad, and Kirk is beginning to feel his age, and mourn the loss of his friends, and regrets the fact that his son, David, has gone off with Saavik aboard the Grissom to explore the Genesis planet created out of the Mutara nebula when Khan set off the Genesis device.

When he learns the cause of McCoy’s increasing and debilitating madness, he goes to Starfleet command to ask for his ship, the Enterprise back, but she is to be decommissioned, and no one believes in the Vulcan metaphysics at play.


He asks his friends, his comrades to help him, and so he, Scott, Sulu, and Chekov rescue McCoy and steal the Enterprise. I do like that the novel expands on Uhura’s actions during all of this, as she doesn’t travel with Kirk and company to Genesis to recover Spock’s body.

Instead we learn that she meddles with Starfleet communications, and has to make a desperate run to the Vulcan embassy to find political asylum with Spock’s father, Sarek.

Carol Marcus, Kirk’s old flame, also gets a little bit of a nice expansion on her story as well, though as the main body of what we know as the film takes over the story, in fact there are a number of great character moments going on in the book that didn’t make it into the film.

The different styles of Klingon language are touched upon, the number of lives that are claimed all so that Spock can be returned to them is pondered, and McIntyre does a nice job of weaving it all together, making Star Trek III the novel an almost different creature entirely from the film.

This one ponders a lot, the idea of how we deal with loss and mourning, and in the end, there is hope anew, as Spock is returned to life and rejoins those he has served with for so long, those who have sacrificed so much.

Sacrifice, loss, mourning, and the human adventure…




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