Star Trek: Bloodthirst (1987) – J.M. Dillard

Captain James T. Kirk and the stalwart crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise take on a Trek-verse version of the vampire legend in this novel written by J.M Dillard.

Set during the third season of The Original Series the Enterprise responds to a distress call from the remote Federation outpost of Tanis. What they discover is a secret Starfleet lab and its dead inhabitants. The sole survivor, Dr. Jeffrey Adams is barely alive, and seems deathly ill.

He also has a thirst…

And so the attacks begin.

As Kirk, McCoy, Spock, and the rest (though its rather troubling to not have Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov appear to almost the halfway mark, and poor Scott doesn’t make an appearance until near the end of the novel) investigate even as Nurse Chapel’s own life hangs in the balance.

It seems that Adams has been exposed to a mutated virus that he helped create at the behest of powers within Starfleet that were attempting to develop a bio-weapon to target the Romulans.

Couching the vampire legend in more scientific terms definitely helps to ground the story in the reality of the Trek-verse. Consequently, not all of the ideas seem to work, though Chekov does add some comic relief with his talk of wampires.


The possibility of a conspiracy within parts of Starfleet aren’t new, but Dillard does nicely with this one, and it was very easy to imagine the 60s era look to this version of the Federation, as well as the way some of the dialogue and moments are handled.

Even if this book had been written a few years later, let alone, say, a decade, I think it would have changed the way a number of things played out.

One of the things I did enjoy was the kind of ‘Lower Decks’ feel to part of the book as we spend time with three security officers who find themselves caught up in Adams bloodthirst.

McCoy, I think, is handled especially well in this story, and his portrayal rings as the most true when compared to the other main characters.

I think this one wasn’t quite sure if it wanted to go for the scares, and unnerve the reader a bit, or simply want to play with vampire lore, while giving nods, both visual and literary to the undead that have gone before it.

The final confrontations at the end of the book, while not necessarily feeling tacked on, as the seed was planted for it much earlier, felt rushed.

And while the Human Adventure continues, I would love to see the Trek-verse lend itself to a truly scary story, as I think, and as we’ve seen and read, the format allows for all manner of storytelling as our heroes continue to boldly go…


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