Cover to the cancelled novel by Michael Jan Friedman by Pocket Book. It remains unpublished to this day.

The God-Thing is Gene Roddenberry's original concept for what became the Star Trek movie. It was rejected by Paramount for its then highly offensive and controversial statements about mankind's ill need of religion or even the general belief in God.

Later it was decided it would be released as a novel, but it languished in limbo since its announcement early 90's. The book still remains unpublished despite over 20 years of social progress. Perhaps Paramount still thinks it would outrage a large amount of potential consumers who are religious.


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The five-year mission seen in The Original Series has finished, and the crew has moved on from the Enterprise. Captain James T. Kirk has been promoted to Admiral, Doctor Leonard McCoy has left Starfleet to become a veterinarian while other members of the crew have been given desk jobs. This has led engineer Montgomery Scott to become an alcoholic through boredom.[1] Spock had returned to the planet Vulcan where he was seeking to control his human half.[2][3]

After an alien entity declaring itself to be God destroyed various ships en route to Earth, the Enterprise is launched under Kirk to engage the vessel. The Admiral brings together the original crew, including Spock, and sets out to intercept the alien. As the ship approaches the entity, it transports a humanoid probe on board, which takes a variety of forms, including Jesus Christ. The crew determine that the being and its craft are from an alternative dimension and have been responsible for the creation of religion on a variety of planets in order to teach them its laws in a manner that they could understand at their points in development. It is malfunctioning, but the crew manage to repair it and send it back to its own dimension.[2][3]


One scene, in particular, that worried the studio was a discussion on Vulcan where the masters under which Spock was studying described religion on Earth, saying "We have never really understood your Earth legend of gods. Particularly in that so many of your gods have said, 'You have to bow down on your bellies every seven days and worship me.' This seems to us like they are very insecure gods."[4] Roddenberry completed the script on 30 June, and Paramount rejected it the following month.[5]

Paramount set the budget for the film at $5 million,[6] but were unhappy with the proposed scripts, rejecting those by Roddenberry (including The God Thing) as well as Robert Silverberg, Chris Knopt, Dick Simmons and Theodore Sturgeon.[4] Roddenberry blamed religious Paramount executives[7] such as Barry Diller for turning down The God Thing, a story that writer Jon Povill described as "God was a malfunctioning spaceship".[7] The production start date for the film was pushed back to 1977, and Paramount brought in new staff. Jerry Isenberg was hired as executive producer, who brought in writers British writers Bryant and Scott in September 1976 to begin work on a new treatment, which would become known as Star Trek: Planet of the Titans.[8] After that failed, Roddenberry sought to take Star Trek back to television as the series Star Trek: Phase II. He redeveloped The God Thing as the pilot episode, In Thy Image. After this too was cancelled, the story was redeveloped once more to become Star Trek: The Motion Picture.[9]


Following the rejection of the script, Roddenberry sought to alter his treatment into a novel.[1] After his assistant, Susan Sackett showed him the manuscript of a novel that actor Walter Koenig had asked her to type, Roddenberry sought Koenig's collaboration on The God Thing. Roddenberry had produced 68 pages after working on it for a month when he handed it to Koenig, who added another 83 during the course of two further months. Roddenberry received the changes back enthusastically, but Sackett informed Koenig a few weeks afterwards that the project was abandoned.[10] In his 1997 autobiography, Warped Factors, Koenig said that he still had copies of the work he had completed on the book.[10]

However in the January 1977 issue of Starlog, Roddenberry said he wasn't sure as to when the novel would be completed, but confirmed that the story would discuss the meaning of God.[1] By March 1978, the novel was said to be half completed but publisher Bantam Books told Roddenberry that they would be happy to wait until he had free time after he started up the production on Phase II.[11] When later in 1978 that production turned into The Motion Picture, it was announced that Bantam gave him an extension as the novelization was felt to be a full-time effort.[12]

At the time of Roddenberry's death in 1991,[13] the novel was incomplete.[14] However shortly before his death, his assistant Susan Sackett discovered a partly completed manuscript while researching documents for her book Inside Trek. This prompted her to suggest sending it to Pocket Books , who held the rights to Star Trek novels at the time, despite the prior agreement with Bantam. Roddenberry wasn't enthusiastic about the idea, but she sent it to editor David Stern at Pocket Books, who was interested and wanted to know Sackett and fellow writer Fred Bronson would be able to expand and complete it. Contract negotiations began in April 1991 for the work, during which time Sackett had a version re-typed since there was no electronic version available and the type on the existing typewriter version was faint in places. The writers were dealing with Roddenberry's lawyer Leonard Maizlish, but discussions dragged out over six months.[15] Two days after Roddenberry's death on October 24, they were informed that work would not be continuing on the novel. She indicated that this may have been linked to her sacking from Star Trek: The Next Generation following Roddenberry's death.[16] Following this, Michael Jan Friedman was brought in by Pocket Books to finish the work, but it was never published.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Script error
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hughes (2008): p. 5
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sackett & Roddenberry (1980): p. 24
  4. 4.0 4.1 Script error
  5. Greenberger (2012): p. 89
  6. Script error
  7. 7.0 7.1 Engel (1994): p. 165
  8. [[Reeves-Stevens (1997): p. 17
  9. Script error
  10. 10.0 10.1 Koenig (1997): p. 217
  11. Script error
  12. Script error
  13. Script error
  14. Sackett (2002): pp. 68–69
  15. Sackett (2002): pp. 192–193
  16. Sackett (2002): p. 212
  17. Greenberger (2012): p. 192

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