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The Federation faces extinction from an awesome new weapon!The Pandora Principle, by Carolyn Clowes, was the 49th novel published as part of Pocket Books's numbered series of TOS books, released in April 1990.


A Romulan bird-of-prey mysteriously drifts over the Romulan Neutral Zone and into Federation territory. Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise investigate, only to find the ship dead in space. When Starfleet orders the derelict ship brought to Earth for examination, the Enterprise returns home with perhaps her greatest prize.
But the bird-of-prey carries a dangerous cargo, a deadly force that is soon unleashed in the heart of the Federation. Suddenly, the only hope for the Federation's survival lies buried in the tortured memory of Commander Spock's protégée, a cadet named Saavik. Together, Spock and Saavik must return to the nightmare world of Saavik's birth—a planet called Hellguard, to discover the secret behind the Romulans' most deadly threat of all…


The Enterprise discovers a ship containing a dying Vulcan woman who Spock mind melds with. He secretly leads a group of Vulcan to Hellguard, a world in the Romulan Neutral Zone. This planet is home to a group of half-Vulcan half-Romulan children, the products of rape who were abandoned there. Spock insists they should become integrated into Vulcan society and is given a year's leave from the Enterprise to raise one of them, Saavik. After years of Spock's mentoring, Saavik eventually attends the Academy.

The Enterprise discovers a drifting Romulan ship with all of its crew dead. It is fitted with an unlimited cloaking device and two multi-colored glowing boxes. They are ordered by Starfleet Command to bring the ship back to Earth. Kirk realizes this is part of a scheme to return him to a ground assignment and tries to avoid it by sneaking into Starfleet Headquarters to file a report in secret. However, the glowing boxes in the Romulan ship are discovered to be filled with a molecular weapon that destroys all oxygen molecules in an environment. Everyone in Starfleet Headquarters is killed except for Kirk, sealed in the basement vault at Headquarters. Another glowing box is opened in the sealed Life City, and all its inhabitants are killed.

The Federation prepares for war with the Romulan Star Empire, unaware the molecular weapon was actually created by a secret Romulan cabal, the Twelve. Spock learns from Saavik that she saw the glowing boxes as a child when they were being prepared on Hellguard. He obtains permission to take the Enterprise to Hellguard to investigate. En route, they take onboard a Romulan smuggler, Achernar, who is actually working for Tahn, a disenchanted member of the Twelve.

Spock and Saavik beam down to Hellguard. Saavik uses her memories to lead Spock to the manufacturing complex where she saw the molecular weapon boxes being stored. They encounter the architect of the molecular weapon manufacturing, which was tested on the parents of the Romulan children, but he commits suicide before they can get information from him. Spock plans to detonate a bomb in the store of the boxes, but Saavik incapacitates him with a Vulcan nerve pinch and plants the bomb herself. They are both beamed aboard but not before the boxes are breached by the explosion, which sets off a chain reaction that destroys Hellguard.

After a short confrontation with the Enterprise bridge crew, Achernar starts negotiations with Tahn. The two strike a deal that sees the Twelve exposed while Than slips away. McCoy realizes that Saavik survived exposure to the molecular weapon because of elements in the dust in the cave on Hellguard. Starfleet manufactures this dust and uses it to neutralize the molecular weapon on Earth. Kirk is allowed to remain as captain of the Enterprise.

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AchernarBradleyPavel ChekovConklinFred DiMuroMalcomb DorishJanet GoldmanRobert HarperMaxim KinskiJames T. KirkJames KomackJessie KorbetLeonard McCoyMichaelsNelsonHeihachiro NoguraOboEl-Idorn RakirAyla RennRichardsSaavikSalokSarekMontgomery ScottSpockGeorge StockerS'tvanHikaru SuluTahnNyota Uhuraunnamed USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) personnelunnamed Dantriansunnamed Humansunnamed Romulansunnamed Starfleet personnelunnamed Vulcans
Referenced only
Katia HarperT'PauT'PrenT'Sai

Starships and vehicles[]

Achernar's transportFederation travel podunnamed Romulan starships (Romulan bird-of-prey, Romulan warship, other attacking ships)
Enterprise-subclass (Constitution refit) class XI heavy cruiser
USS ConstitutionUSS EnterpriseUSS Potemkin
Vulcan survey ships


Shipboard locations[]

USS Enterprise
bridgecorridorengineeringquarters (Spock's, Kirk's, Saavik's) • sickbayturbolift
Romulan bird-of-prey
bridgecorridorengineeringquarters (Commander's) • sickbayturbolift

Planetary locales[]

Life CitySan Francisco

Outposts and establishments[]

SpacedockStarfleet AcademyStarfleet HeadquartersThe Vault
Referenced only
Gamma Eridani research stationGolStarbase 10

Planets and planetoids[]

EarthHellguard (Romulan worlds)
Referenced only
BelandrosDantria IVMarsVulcan

Stars and systems[]

872 TrianguliSol
Referenced only
DantriaGamma EridaniVulcan system

Stellar regions[]

the galaxyRomulan Neutral Zone
Referenced only
Gamma Hydra sector

Races and cultures[]

Referenced only

States and organizations[]

Federation CouncilRomulan Star EmpireStarfleetStarfleet CommandThe TenUnited Federation of PlanetsVulcan Council

Science and classification[]

Technology and weapons[]

airlockbladecloaking deviceCoffeeTechcommand chaircommunicatorcomputerdaggerdamping fieldenvironmental suitfood synthesizerhand-held weaponimpulse engineintercomlife supportlog buoypaperpencilphaserphaser pistolphoton torpedopistolplasma torpedorecord taperecorderservo-minership-mounted weaponsignal buoyspace stationstarshipswordtorpedo launchertractor beamtransportertricorderturboliftuniversal translatorviewscreenwarp coilwarp engine

Materials and substances[]

Food and drink[]
alcoholalecoffeeGlenlivetpotatoration packRomulan aleRomulan wineScotchwine



Communications and language[]

distress callPlanetary Contingency CodeRomulan languageRosecryptVulcan language

Occupations and titles[]

adjutantadmiralambassadorcadetcaptainchief engineerchief medical officercommandercommanding officercommodorecommunications officerdoctorengineerensignFederation Starfleet ranksFederation Starfleet ranks (2270s-2350s)first officerfleet admiralhealerhelmsmanIDIClieutenantlieutenant commandermidshipmanofficerpraetorpresidentPresident of the United Federation of Planetsrear admiralscience officersecuritysecurity chiefspecialistsubcommandertactical officertechnicianweapons officer

Other references[]

baseballbinary starcalendarclothingcolonycommunicationdaydesertDNAearthquakeelectromagnetismemotionfifth planetsgalaxygamma raygenetic hybridgovernmentGrand DesigngravityhourKolinahrlanguagelawlifeformlightlogicmattermemorymetermind meldminutemolecular virusmoonnation-stateNeutral Zone Treatyops manualorbitplanetplanetary classificationpon farrraces and culturesrankrapered alertreligionsectorspacespectroanalysissports and gamesstarstardateStarfleet uniformStarfleet uniform (2278-2350s)star systemsuicidetechnologythird planetstimetitletreatyuniformvirusweaponyellow alert


See the continuing voyages of the USS Enterprise
Enterprise attempts to rescue T'Pren, Spock pursues her origin on Hellguard. (A year prior to Spock's tutelage of Saavik)
Spock attempts to civilize Saavik. (Six years prior to the story)
Saavik enters the Academy, Enterprise discovers the derelict. (Date of Academy entrance in ST reference: Star Trek Chronology')





published order
Previous novel:
Rules of Engagement
TOS numbered novels Next novel:
Doctor's Orders
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
Foundations, Book Three
Chapters 2-7
Pocket Next Adventure:
Dwellers in the Crucible
The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2281.
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in one other timeframe:
Previous Adventure:
Pawns and Symbols
Chapters 9-14, Epilogue
Chapter 1
Next Adventure:
To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh (Chapter 22)

Publication history[]
Italian language: Il principio di Pandora, translated by Annarita Guarnieri. (Garden Editoriale)
German language: Das Pandora-Prinzip, translated by Andreas Brandhorst. (Heyne)
Portuguese: O Princípio Pandora. (Editora Aleph)

External link[]