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Planet of Judgment is a Star Trek: The Original Series novel, the fourth of thirteen published in the 1970s by Bantam Books. The first of two novels written by Joe Haldeman, its first printing was in August 1977.


Never before had the Enterprise been betrayed by its own technology. Never before had their systems, instruments and weapons failed to respond. And never before had Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the crew faced a total breakdown of science and sanity ... until they stumbled on the mysterious world that couldn't exist ...
A world orbited by a black hole and ruled by chaos – where man was a helpless plaything for a race of beings more powerful than the laws of the universe.



Captain's log, stardate 6132.8.
The crew's morale seems high in spite of the four-week detour. This morning's maneuvers went well; this afternoon Mr. Scott has a drill planned. I think we have been successful in promoting the feeling that the Enterprise is on vacation – rather than having been forced, by vagaries of scheduling, into a mission that a transport or scout could accomplish as easily.


I haven't yet met our supercargo, Dr. Atheling, other than formally welcoming him aboard ship. Mr. Spock speaks highly of his reputation in astrophysics, and several of the crew know him from Academy days.
By tomorrow the maintenance and training schedule should be complete; I look forward to meeting a man important enough to shanghai a month out of a heavy cruiser's schedule.

After pulling a double duty shift on the bridge, Captain Kirk stops by the rec room for a breakfast of ham and eggs, and to catch up with Dr. McCoy. McCoy baits the captain about why he's keeping the crew on edge by performing repeated drills and scenarios, and Kirk informs McCoy that when the Enterprise puts in at Academy, the ship will probably be subject of a Class 1 inspection by Commodore Martin Lawrence, chief of Starfleet Flight Training, and his cadets.


Also in the mess hall was Professor Atheling. The Professor was having a heated debate about Earth literature with two Enterprise science officers, Andre Charvat and Sharon Follett.

Captain's log, stardate 6133.4.
We've just completed a detailed mapping of the planet Anomaly (so named by Lieutenant Commander Charvat), and have found no artifacts suggesting the planet is or ever was inhabited by intelligent beings.


Much of the land area of Anomaly is jungle, and the planet has a very active, almost Mesozoic, ecology. Its surface and seas are aswarm with creatures man-sized and larger, mostly quite aggressive. So I've selected both the landing site and the landing party with some care.
Captain's log, stardate 6133.6.
Mr. Spock and Dr. Atheling agree that the failure of the transporter to work must be somehow allied with whatever forces allow Anomaly's microstar to exist. At any rate, it's now more important than ever that we investigate the planet's surface.
We will have to go down by shuttle, which is irregular but poses no real problem. I've added one person to the exploration team: Ensign Frost, an engineer and experienced pilot. Otherwise the team and landing site are the same as before.

After landing, the shuttlecraft's engines shut down inexplicably, and many powered devices they brought along also failed to work, in defiance of the laws of physics. Enormous animals attacked, and the crew started a large brush fire to clear a defensible perimeter.


From orbit, scanners recorded no life from the shuttle, but Spock was suspicious. He sent down a second shuttle with three security officers. When that shuttle gave off similar dubious readings after landing, Spock went to the surface with three additional shuttles outfitted with emergency survival gear and crew. The five shuttles formed a defensive perimeter, and the crew began fashioning a protective stockade.

After two days, two of the crew had been killed, one by a man-eating plant, and another who was shot by an arrow in the throat by tribal-like hominids and died while in surgery. A third man, Bill Hixon, was wounded and wandered off, returning minus his eyes, ears, and nose, and had developed a kind of telepathy. He had been altered by an indigenous, telepathic race to be a communications liaison. The natives were painfully sensitive to unfocused thought patterns and the "noise" of mechanical devices, so they'd selectively deactivated certain equipment. Hixon chose the Vulcan language term arivne as their species' name, a word which expressed the equality of thought, matter and energy.


An Arivne materialized and, through Hixon, asked the crew to volunteer for a series of critical illusory tests, but would not immediately explain why. To ease the mental noise of being near so many people, it used psychokinesis to return all but six people back to the Enterprise, including Kirk and Nyota Uhura. Montgomery Scott had taken the ship out of orbit, intending to escape communications interference and gather rescue personnel and equipment from Academy. However, a falsified distress signal rigged by the Arivne broadcast reports about the crew imperiled by a contagious disease that had killed Spock and McCoy. The USS Lysander approached with orders to tow the Enterprise to a starbase.

On Anomaly, McCoy dosed the landing party with a hypnosis aide. Each then re-experienced a personal traumatic event that hinged on decision-making and guilt. Spock relived his marriage ritual with T'Pring and subsequent fight with Kirk on Vulcan in 2267. McCoy relived the end of his marriage in 2253 when his wife walked out with their daughter Joanna McCoy. Sharon Follett chose to have an abortion. Andre Charvat turned in a cheating Academy classmate, only to see the man commit suicide the next day. James Atheling cheated on an exam, then felt guilty about it for decades. As a child, Ensign Rosaly Ybarra made her family go on a picnic without her, then watched them die in an aircar accident.


A second round of scenarios dealt with betrayal. In the 2260s, McCoy was ambushed and stabbed by a bartender while on shore leave; in 2240, ten-year-old Spock watched his Human cousins in Minnesota blame him for something they'd broken; Follett's best friend stole her boyfriend; Charvat's supervisor took credit for six months of work; and Ybarra had her luggage stolen by a friend while traveling.

The Arivne explained why these events mattered. Representatives of an aggressive invasion fleet had telepathically reached out to them and the Organians. The fleet was 25,000 light years away and would arrive in one millennia to conquer the Federation. The invaders offered the Arivne promises of safety in exchange for neutrality, but after having learned about decision making and betrayal, the Arivne believed they were being lied to.


The invading race, known as the Irapina, proposed sending two representatives to Anomaly to evaluate the resolve and determination of the Federation. Kirk and Spock agreed to act as Federation champions, fighting the Irapina in illusory scenarios, with the Arivne acting as mediators and translators. Unknown to the Irapina, however, the Arivne exaggerated Kirk and Spock's physical strength and would subtly coach the officers during the battle. An Arivne materialized aboard the Lysander, explaining the truth about what happened to the Enterprise so that the starship could be released from tow and return to Anomaly.

When the Irapina materialized on Anomaly, they brought a third, juvenile member of their lowest caste to go first. McCoy was then added as the Federation's third champion. A simulated poker game between McCoy and the third Irapina ended with the death of the Irapina.


Kirk and Spock then submitted to multiple simultaneous contests. Kirk ended up commanding a seagoing Enterprise against an attacking pirate galleon, leading to a swordfight. Meanwhile, Spock was placed in more conceptual scenarios, from a knowledge quiz to a theoretical manipulation of gravitational fields within red giant binary stars to attempt to trigger a nova. Irapina cheated, merging the two illusions, so that Kirk could feel the heat of the stars while both Irapina fought Kirk. When Spock realized his success would kill Kirk, he chose to sacrifice his life for Kirk. This ended the scenario, as capitulation even for a moral victory was considered breaking the rules.

Space structure.

The two imposing Irapina then moved to attack Kirk and Spock physically. As the officeers were still under hypnosis, the Arivne was able to augment their physical strength. Kirk and Spock swung tree trunks like baseball bats, knocking the two Irapina unconscious. This decided the contest, with the Irapina choosing to divert their invasion fleet toward the Romulan Empire.

The Arivne erased Enterprise computer records of Anomaly's location, and asked that Starfleet leave them alone.

Additional log entries

The crew.

Captain's log, stardate 6134.2.
This is being recorded by Science Officer Spock, temporarily in command.
We are unable to communicate with Captain Kirk and his team, although they appear to have landed safely, and precisely at the selected location.
It seems unlikely that Captain Kirk would have long remained on the surface of the planet, once it was plain that he could not communicate with the Enterprise. Therefore, either he and the crew are dead or disabled, or the shuttlecraft is unable to lift. When our orbit brings us again over the landing site, Mr. Sulu will determine by biosensor whether they are alive.
Since the translator, communicators, and shuttle engine are mutually independent systems, the probability of all of them malfunctioning at the same time is vanishingly small. The inescapable conclusion is that they have been influenced by some outside meta-system.
Captain's log, stardate 6133.4. [Falsified]
This is Captain James T. Kirk, Commander. The bodies of Spock, McCoy, Charvat, Follett, Ybarra, and Dr. Atheling have been placed in the biological stasis chamber, for more thorough analysis on Academy. The consensus of opinion is that some manner of transporter accident killed them. Accordingly, we will not use the transporters until they can be tested under laboratory conditions. Lieutenant Commander Scott and several other people in Engineering are very ill with a fever. Nurse Christine Chapel has recommended a quarantine of the section, if many more people come down with it.
Morale in general seems very low. Both Spock and McCoy were well-liked by the crew. Those who’ve fallen prey to the delusion believe that the ones who died on Nesta (or between Nesta and the Enterprise) are still alive, and being held prisoner on the rogue planet. Please ignore any transmissions relating this story, even if they come from me. Further evidence, in the form of log entries and interviews with crewmen (those with the delusion and without), is here appended.
Captain's log, stardate 6134.5. [Spock recording].
I dispatched the rescue mission at 1744 today, when telescopic observation of the planet indicated the presence of a forest fire at the landing party's location. The shuttlecraft landed safely, just before nightfall, but again we lost communication with them the moment they touched down. No further trouble with the biosensor. Mr. Scott's work party did not find the predicted difference of potential across the sensor array, but neither was there a burst of white noise at the beginning of calibration. The biosensor indicated the usual density of animal life across the surface of the planet, but unfortunately showed no sign of human life at the landing party's location.
Captain's log, stardate 6136.6. [Scott recording].
Following Commander Spook's orders, we are proceeding to Academy, since he was unable to return from the surface of Anomaly. We may recover subspace communications before then, of course, in which case we will advise Starfleet Command, and perhaps receive new orders. As arranged, I computed our escape orbit so that it reached perigee above the landing site, as close as we could come without endangering the Enterprise from atmospheric friction. The physics lab's telescope showed all five shuttles unharmed (at least on the outside), but no crewmen. Four symbols were visible, larger than the shuttles, apparently scraped in the ash:
The computer decodes these as meaning “Unable To Proceed/ Aircrafts (Shuttles) Seriously Damaged/Not Safe To Land Here/Some Crewmen Or One Crewman Dead".
This is from an ancient code used by stranded airmen on Earth. It will be interesting to find out whether this bit of arcane knowledge came out of Mr. Spock's encyclopedic memory, or from Captain Kirk's passion for military antiquities. Assuming we ever see either of them again.
Captain's log, stardate 6142.4.
Fortunately, the Lysander's subspace radio resumed working as soon as ours did, so they could partially corroborate our story. At least they wont be waiting for us with straitjackets. Scientists on Starbase 4 may be able to detect the Irapina fleet, as far away as that, because of the great mass of their vehicles. I confess I will be relieved if our experience can be confirmed by an outside agency, one too far away to be influenced by the Arivne.



James AthelingBoridoBoundsChristine ChapelAndre CharvatPavel ChekovCzyzakBish DavoffDelacroixSharon FollettFrostAmanda GraysonDoris GraysonOctavio HernandezHevelinBill HixonAlan HuffJimmyBill JohnsonJames T. KirkMartin LawrenceLesterLeonard McCoyMark MooreJerry NovoskiMontgomery ScottSikhSpockStonnHikaru SuluTabakowMohammed TafariT'PauT'PringNyota UhuraRosaly Ybarra
Referenced only
Raymond ChandlerDashiell HammettSherlock HolmesHoneyHoratioJoanna McCoySaraWilliam of Occam

Starships and vehicles

aircarUSS EnterpriseUSS Lysandershuttlecraft
Referenced only
USS IntrepidIrapina starshipriverboatSolar Wind


AcademyAnomalyBabelBeta Hydri systemCapory (Last Chance/First Chance) • Earth (Atlanta General HospitalGeorgiaHennepinJackson MallMinneapolisOuter BanksSt. Paul) • Sagittarius ArmVulcan
Referenced only
Epsilon IndiGamma 7AMount OlympusNBD 287,722—Nesta (Nesta research station) • Orion ArmStarbase 4Starbase 13

Races and cultures

ArivneHuman (Bantu) • IrapinaVulcan
Referenced only

States and organizations

Romulan Star EmpireStarfleetStarfleet Academy (College of ScienceStarfleet Flight Training) • United Federation of Planets

Science and classification

air conditioningairlockaltimeteranabolic protoplaseranthropologyastrophysicsbiosensorbody armorBussard ramjetcommunicatorcompasscoordinatescosmologydiggerDNA match synthesizerelectronic scalpelenginefood-pakholographyhyposprayintercomlaboratoryLindamood ParadoxmachetemedikitmicroscopemissileMohorovicic discontinuitynuclear missileOccam's Razororbitphysicspressorprobeprotective suitpsychologyquantum mechanicsradarRonoxoline-DsatelliteSchrödinger's catsensor arraysleeping pillstarshipstasis chamberstethoscopesubspace communicationsubspace radiosurvival kittelescopethermodynamicstimetractor beamtranslatortransportertricorderturboliftuniversevibroknifevibrosawviewscreenvisiphonexenobiologyxenolinguistics


animalantArivnebacteriabarracudabearbeebirch treebirdbutterflybuzzardcatcentaurdinosaurdogeagleeelelephantEsio Telgaflowerflowering vine plantfishfungusgrasshorseinsectLepidopteralifeformlionmind-toadmoldmosquitomossplantprimatereptilesalmonscorpionserpentsharktree

Materials and substances

adrenalinebloodbosonbourbonbrandychitincoffeecoppercrystalDenebian brandydilithium crystalseggethyl alcoholhamheliumhydrogenjademantlemeatmeatloafmetaloxygenrumsnowsteelstonetachyontobaccotritaniumwaterwhiskeyzirconium

Units of measurement

centimetercenturydayhourkilometerlight yearmetermicrosecondsecondstardatetimewarp factor (warp six) • week


ahn woonarrestoraxecudgelcutlassdaggerderringerdisruptorflamerlineshockerlirpaphaserNavy Colt revolverspinpitswordtanglegunType I Ray GunType II phaserwar axe

Ranks and titles

assistant chief engineerbartendercabin boycadetcaptainchiefcommodorecookdancerdoctorengineerensignfirst matelieutenant commanderpilotpirateprofessorscience officer

Other references

10 meter dashabortionaccordionannulmentantennaapartmentarenaarmoryatmospherebaseball batbeambinary starblack holebrainbreakfastbridgebriefing roomcanteencaptain's logCaptain's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), 2267caveClass 1 inspectionclawcreditdecimdesertdicediseasedistress calldollarduty shiftecologyemotionEnglish languageFederation Starfleet ranks (2260s)firefive-card studfleetfusionGeneral Order Onegravitational fieldgravityhallucinationHamlethangar deckHauser ropehelmethominidhospitalhullhurricanehypnosishypnoticsjump harnessjungleKahKah-if-farrKah-if-feekarateKlee-etKlee-fahKoon-ut-kal-if-feekoon-ut-lakrovillKroykahlanding partylawyerlogicMarchmarriagemarriage contractmedical schoolmess roommicrostarmind meldmutinynewspapernovanovelOccam's RazoroceanontologyorbitOrion slave girlpillplanetpoempokerpon farrpsychokinesisquarantineradiationrankrec roomred giantropeSchrödinger's catshore leavesickbayspaceportsports and gamesstarStarfleet ranksstogiestraitjacketstunsuicideswimmingtabootachyon phasingtaverntectonicstelepathytentacletracheotomytransportertransporter roomtug of war


Mesozoic Era
Plant and animal lifeforms on Anomaly were described as being of this Earth era.
Birth of William of Occam, who established the principle of Occam's Razor.
Death of William of Occam.
19th century
Leonard McCoy and an Irapina played a telepathic, illusory game of poker set late in this era aboard a riverboat.
20th century
Creation of the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment.
21st century
Era when electronic scalpels and DNA match synthesizers were invented.


Related media


  • This novel gives a description of McCoy's marriage, separation and entrance into Starfleet. The topic is later covered, with minor differences, in TOS novel: Shadows on the Sun.
  • The seagoing Enterprise commanded by Kirk might have been the HMS Enterprize, but it also might have been USS Enterprise (sloop-of-war), USS Enterprise (schooner), the USS Enterprise (brig), or an entirely fictitious vessel.
  • For the 1990s reprints of Bantam novels, artist Kazuhiko Sano made a careful study of the stories and depicted specific parts of each story. In particular, the reprint edition of this book shows Spock and Chapel wearing the armored overclothes described in the story.
  • On page 59, Moore's name is misspelled "Mocre."




Published Order
Previous novel:
The Price of the Phoenix
TOS unnumbered novels Next novel:
Previous book:
The Price of the Phoenix
Bantam TOS Next book:
Star Trek 12
Previous novel:
Trek to Madworld
Star Trek Adventures Next novel:
Devil World
Previous story:
first novel
Stories by:
Joe Haldeman
Next story:
World Without End
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
Spock, Messiah!
Pocket Books Timeline Next adventure:
Previous adventure:
Spock, Messiah!
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
Previous story:
Spock, Messiah!
Voyages of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), Year Four Next story:
The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2269.
The Memory Beta Chronology places events from this story in 3 other timeframe(s):
Previous adventure:
Part Two
The Final Reflection
Chapter 15: Spock
Next adventure:
Previous adventure:
Alien Spotlight
Chapter 12: McCoy
Next adventure:
Book Two
Shadows on the Sun
Previous adventure:
Amok Time
Chapter 12: Spock
Next adventure:
Mere Anarchy
The Centre Cannot Hold
Publication history
August 1977
First published by Bantam Books. (ISBN 978-0-553-11145-3)
December 1977
First printed in Great Britain by Corgi Books. (ISBN 978-0-552-10622-1)
June 1984
Reissued by Bantam Books, cover by Enric Torres-Prat. (ISBN 0-553-24168-0)
August 1994
Reissued in Great Britain as Star Trek Adventures #7 by Titan Books, cover by Alister Pearson. (ISBN 978-1-85286-531-3)
February 1995
Reissued in USA by Bantam Spectra, cover by Kazuhiko Sano. (ISBN 978-0-553-24168-6)
8 October 1978
Italian: As Il Pianeta del Giudizio in the omnibus Urania #759, translated by Beata Della Frattina, cover by Karel Thole. (Arnoldo Mondadori Editore)
April 1980
German: As Duell der Mächtigen (Duel of the Mighty), translated by Leni Sobez, cover by Oliviero Berni. (Pabel)
German: As Grenze zur Unendlichkeit (Planet of Judgment), Raumschiff Enterprise #24, cover by Eddie Jones. (Goldmann, ISBN 3442236177)
11 February 1994
French: As La Planète du Jugement, translated by Gilles Dupreux, cover by Enric Torres-Prat. (Fleuve Noir, ISBN 9782265001541)

External links