The Honorable Sacrifice

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Title: The Honorable Sacrifice
Publisher: Catspaw Printers
Author(s): Beverly Zuk
Cover Artist(s): Beverly Zuk
Illustrator(s): Beverly Zuk
Date(s): 1981
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links:
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The Honorable Sacrifice is a 92-page gen McCoy-centric novel by Beverly Zuk. It had a run of 300 issues.

Summaries and Descriptions

From a flyer:

This story is not about disgrace, revenge, murder, incest, abduction, homosexuality or child abuse.

But almost.

THE HONORABLE SACRIFICE follows James T. Kirk, Chief of Star Fleet Operations, in his efforts to avoid the clutches of his Klingon abductors. He may evade them, but there are other, far deadlier enemies.

THE HONORABLE SACRIFICE reveals Spock as a truly commanding figure:

"'The damed fool'!" The expletive brought astonished eyes from every station on the bridge in his direction, Spock was almost as astonished as those staring at him."

But most of all, THE HONORABLE SACRIFICE is about Leonard McCoy, renegade. Convicted of manslaughter, dishonorably discharged from Star Fleet, and exiled to a planet of feudal barbarians, fate delivers into his hands the one person ultimately responsible for his ruin:

"The eyes of his former medical officer's face were a murderous blue. Hovering dangerously above his exposed chest was the weapon that had given him his freedom seconds before. Kirk found himself caught in the rush of an unfamiliar sensation."
THE HONORABLE SACRIFICE should be regarded as R-rated.
From an ad in Datazine #21:
This follows James T. Kirk, his former Chief of Star Fleet Operations, in his efforts to avoid the clutches of his Klingon investors. He may evade them, but there are other, far deadlier enemies. This zine reveals Spock as a truly commanding figure. But most of all, The Honorable Sacrifice is about Leonard McCoy, renegade, convicted of manslaughter, dishonorably discharged from Star Fleet, and exiled to a planet of feudal barbarians, fate delivers into his hands the one person responsible for his ruin. This zine should be regarded as R-rated.


Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

Oh, yum - The perfect McCoy novel. Tightly plotted, dead-on characterization, great relationship dilemmas. Plus a pretty good planet/society...The story is revealed in wonderfully suspenseful bits. When done, we have this sequence of events: Post-Vejur, McCoy is feeling unnecessary and overlooked by Jim, leaving him ripe to accept a Starfleet Intelligence mission to go to the feudal, neutral but Klingon-dominated, and epidemic-spawning planet Cyr to come back with viable PXP (a type of pneumonia) bacteria for research to prevent plague spreading through the Federation. Kirk tries to dissuade him, then tries to stop him bureaucratically, leading to estrangement between them. McCoy is set up, with his knowledge, for court-martial on manslaughter, but he is unprepared for the emotional impact of the ceremony. Along with his innoculations, the vengeful Ionii, a Vegan Starfleet physician who had tried to entice McCoy away from Enterprise and is furious at having his judgment proven wrong with McCoy's disgrace, injects him with hallucinogens. This puts him through a hellacious experience he had not agreed to - but it also saves him from the Klingons - the mind sifter can do nothing with a lunatic, and they let him go. A local feudal ruler, Shamere, takes him in through his bout with the pneumonia, and keeps him as lover. Some time later, while Enterprise is escorting the hospital ship Mercy to Cyr under sealed orders, Kirk is snatched from the ship by transporter-kidnap and brought to Shamere. Scott and Spock unravel the mysterious orders and face off with the officers of Mercy. On Cyr, McCoy declares Kirk to be his enemy; Kirk doesn't know if he means it, nor if it was McCoy who provided the bioscan to kidnap him. (It wasn't - they got it from the Klingons, who got it from the Romulans.) McCoy is, in fact, hostile to Kirk, believing that Kirk knew about the hallucinogens and didn't tell him. But he drugs Shamere and her piggish brother Brel so that they - and Brel's twin sister Miki - can escape to a safe house and get to a transmitter. (McCoy had clawed his own transponder out while delirious.) While they are on the run, Kirk comes down with the pneumonia, and he has no resistance. Miki and her kuri fall into a crevasse. She escapes but McCoy has to kill the kuri. McCoy also has to open Kirk's lung. They arrive in town facing ambush; McCoy stashes Miki and Kirk in the Tower of Death and charges the ambush, nailing some Klingons, but then having to fight Shamere. Spock arrives just in time to save McCoy's bacon, but he has to kill another kuri. They get Kirk beamed to quarantine on the Mercy, then McCoy beams up in full armor, mounted on his kuri, which he presents to Ionii as the culture, telling him if he wants its liver, he'll have to kill it himself. The story all comes out as McCoy and Kirk recover in Mercy's sickbay. Ionii has had a well-deserved nervous breakdown on learning just how much he had misjudged McCoy and how much he was responsible for harming him. McCoy presents Scotty with his sword in repayment for the one he'd borrowed, which Kirk broke in his dishonorable discharge ceremony. And the perfect last line... McCoy asks Scotty how he looked, demanding 'The truth.' Scott replies, 'Like a flamin' saint. [2]


Between the Federation and the Klingon Empire lies Cyr, a coldly inhospitable planet whose warlike population has Klingon leanings. The planet is currently under interdict as it is the pandemic capital of know space, and a new and deadly cross-species pathogen, Polyxenioic Pneumonia, has been traced to this planet. Cyr is also famous as the home in exile of one Dr. Leonard McCoy, a disgraced former Star-fleet physician, now chief bedwarmer of the musgravine Shamere.

The Enterprise and the Polaris Mercy, an unarmed hospital ship, are in orbit around Cyr on a secret mission when Kirk is abducted from the bridge by an alien transporter and finds himself on the surface of Cyr. His only hope for survival is to find McCoy. But Kirk and McCoy quarreled bitterly before McCoy's court-martial. Will he be willing and able to save Kirk from Cyrians, the Klingons, and Polyxenioic Pneumonia? Meanwhile, on the Enterprise Spock is in deep trouble. Kirk alone knew the contents of the secret orders. His disappearance has left Spock holding the bag in a most delicate position, for Kirk, McCoy, and Commodore Ionii are involved in a Starfleet internal politics situation of which Spock is ignorant. Ionii wants to terminate the mission unless Spock can produce the secret orders or find Kirk. But soon the presence of a Klingon ship raises pressure to the breaking point. Why is Spock losing control? Is McCoy what he seems to be? Will a new plague be unleashed on the Galaxy?

This is a nice action/adventure story featuring McCoy in an unusually physical role. McCoy fans should not miss this. This is a side of the character which is rarely explored. The prose is lean, and the story moves along with great rapidity. The characterizations stay pretty close to the series format, and the plot holds the reader's attention and is entertaining. However, I have two complaints. At 92 pages, the zine is a bit short for the price, and I wish that Ms Zuk had spent more time developing the Cyrians. They are a telepathic warlike race which live in sail shaped "castles that float", due to the use of gravitine, the only naturally occurring anti-gravit mineral ever discovered. (Didn't that sentence pique your curiosity as much as the entire plot synopsis?) why do they need these castles? Do they follow herds? Migrate with the weather? There's lots of unanswered questions in my mind. A better developed Cyrian race could have made this a memorable zine. [3]
I have had the pleasure of reading this zine. I loved it. The flyer leaves so much out. It is a well constructed, well thought out story. It proved that only a military minded organization could come up with such a coup. [4]

'The Honorable Sacrifice' is set post ST-TMP with Leonard McCoy as its primary focus. In this story we get some insight into the good doctor, and his oft overlooked relationship with James Kirk. They are bound up together in a race against time and death on the interdicted planet Cyr. McCoy himself sums it up beautifully: "Spock loved Kirk; everyone knew that." The Vulcan's love grew from Kirk's strengths , while if he loved was for his weaknesses. Could Spock ever love the brashness, the self-doubt, and yes — even the cowardice that a transporter incident had revealed in Kirk? In his heart he knew it was precisely those elements in his own personality that drew him to this man." Here we see some of the basis for their friendship along with the reasons it has been twisted and maimed.

Beverly C. Zuk sketches an intriguing background in the Cyrian culture, which left me hungry to learn more about it. I would have opted for more information and an expansion of the story along those lines to answer some of the many questions which come to mind. The possibilities are many, especially concerning the telepathic bond between birthmates, the male/female twins which occur among the nobility. We're not told if this is always the case or it it is confined only to the nobility. Apparently birthmates are mated, as among the ancient Egyptian royalty, to perpetuate a genetic mutation? And what of the results of such inbreeding? It is interesting to speculate. The gravitine, a natural anti-gravity mineral and source of Cyr's attraction which enables the building of the great floating keeps, the kuri, the interweaving of feudalism and space travel along with other details flesh out the story.

While the story jells, it is a bit weak concerning some of the motivations Ionii's use of the hallucinogen in particular. Yes, Kirk would be angry about McCoy's insistence on taking part in the mission, letting himself be used by Starfleet in a way particularly grating to Kirk after his succumbing to Nogura's manipulations. And McCoy's' temper is certainly volatile, especially when added to the effects of the drug. Still I wasn't thoroughly convinced that they could have been driven so far apart. Perhaps personal flashbacks would have made their individual reasoning more immediate.

There are some occasional light touches. One especially deft one was the use Scotty made of his encounter with Spock in "the Pitts". That puckish yet practical humor Scotty occasionally displayed, as in his handling of the tribbles, surfaces when he promises not to kiss Spook's ear (!) And, as you might expect from an artist, there are some excellent descriptive passages, a flair for observation.

Along with the four basic chapter introduction scenes there are some very nice "sketchbook style" character studies. However, I, for one, wanted more. All in all, if this is a first try at writing, and I'm not familiar with any previous attempts by Ms. Zuk, I'm impressed? I would be interested in seeing more of her efforts, perhaps even a sequel to this story. [5]


Here is a blend of mystery, sf adventure, and "get Kirk" to delight any Trek addict. Still, with all of the above, this is primarily the story of Dr. Leonard McCoy, human being in crisis. And to a lesser extent, it is the story of Cmdrs. Spock and Scott as they attempt to unravel the mystery, best the Klingons, and save McCoy and Kirk, who are lost on the planet Cyr. Some time ago, Dr. McCoy was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from Starfleet for causing the death of a patient while drunk. He has gone to Cyr, a wintry planet known to be infected with PXP, a deadly form of cross-species pneumonia. Kirk brings the Enterprise and the unarmed hospital ship USS Polaris Mercy to an orbit around Cyr, their mission secret from all except the captain. Before he can reveal any of the mission's details, a Klingon transporter beam kidnaps Kirk and deposits him on the icy surface of the planet. A group of sadistically playful Cyrians, among them McCoy, capture him. They take him to Wind Haven, a movable fortress which wends its way across the snow fields by means of a sail-like construction and anti-gravity particles abounding in the atmosphere. These particles make Cyr a prime target for acquisition by Klingons and Federation alike, if only the biological mechanism of its several plagues can be discovered and the quarantine lifted. The culture is feudal and oriented toward war; McCoy has become something of an expert with both sword and lance - skillful enough to keep himself alive if not unscarred frcm a duel with the local chieftain's younger brother. The chieftain, or musgravine, is Lady Shamere. She has taken McCoy as her lover. Shamere plans to turn Kirk over to the Klingons. And McCoy obviously blames him for seme betrayal - to the point of hatred. He helps Kirk escape and treats the PXP Kirk has contracted only because it suits his his own purposes - and because, as he says, "I took an oath once." During a long and desperate flight through the snowy wilderness, with Kirk growing sicker by the hour, McCoy rediscovers his lost self, and we discover the measure of the man. As in any good mystery, there are questions to be answered: Is McCoy really a renegade, or the victim of a secret mission gone wrong? Why is Caimodore Ionii, the most gifted and powerful physician in Starfleet, trying to prevent Spock from recovering Kirk and McCoy? Why does Spock blow his cool? Why do personnel of both ships believe that Scott and Spock have disappeared to engage in a romantic tryst in the middle of a confrontation with a Klingon battle cruiser? I'll give you a hint: This is not an S/S (Scott/Spock) novel. The answers to all questions are given in elegant and insightful writing. The author has cultivated the ability to show rather than tell, allowing the reader to experience the pains, frustrations, and joys of the characters freely. Fans of Mr. Scott will be pleased that this often-neglected character is more fully developed than in most Treklit. Far from limiting him to his engine room, the author has shown him as the gifted cannand officer we glimpsed in such episodes as "Friday's Child," "Bread and Circuses," and "A Taste of Armageddon." Scotty even gets the last word - and a fine last word it is. Ms. Zuk, who is also an artist, has created four designs reminiscent of medieval wood-block prints to alternate at the head of each chapter. As the story changes location or subject, the designs also change -from ship to fortress to snow storm to an armored figure mounted on a kuri. The last are an sf creation worthy of note: winged beasts of burden who play an unexpected role in the story's denouement. In addition to the repeating block prints (these are, by the way, especially suited for mimeo reproduction), there are six full-page illos printed offset. Though all are good, I found a montage of Spock and Scott particularly satisfying. Excellent editing and proofing, especially considering the difficulties of correcting stencils. Highly recommended. [6]


THE HONORABLE SACRIFICE by Beverly Zuk is a McCoy story. McCoy is court-martialed out of Star Fleet because he has caused the death of a yeoman. Unknown to most people, this is a setup to get him to the planet Cyr, which has been the site of many plagues which have swept through the galaxy. Kirk tries to tell McCoy that he shouldn't take this mission and they have an argument which severely strains their friendship. McCoy is so bitter that he later blames Kirk for the problems which develop. McCoy is also the target of a vendetta and his mission is hampered by Dr. Ionni, who is in charge of a medical starship, the Mercy., Ionni had wanted McCoy on his staff as he claimed he had the best medical staff in the galaxy and McCoy's refusal to leave the Enterprise and his success made Ionni determined to get his revenge. After McCoy's court-martial, he was checked medically in preparation for the mission and Ionni insisted on doing the physical. He didn't know of the secret mission and pumped McCoy full of hallucinogens. McCoy was out of his mind and this helped him survive his capture and torture from the Klingon mindsifter. The Enterprise is sent months later on a secret mission to recover McCoy and Kirk contract the deadly Cyrian pneumonia McCoy has been sent to isolate. McCoy appears to be dead emotionally after all he has been through but his friendship and love of Kirk will not allow him to let him die. They fight their way out of the castle where McCoy has been a prisoner and are barely rescued in time to save Kirk's life. McCoy is restored to Starfleet and with the help of Spock and Scotty, who have been fighting for both Kirk and McCoy's interests, vindicated. I enjoyed the story outline as it was very well written and well-paced. The artwork complements the story very effectively and I enjoyed the character development which shows a real understanding of Star Trek and the interaction of the crew. [7]


  1. from Universal Translator #17
  2. Zinedex
  3. from TREKisM #26
  4. comments by the editor of What is Lost is Sometimes Found, printed int that zine
  5. from Communicator #4
  6. from Universal Translator #17
  7. from Datazine #49