Multiple sources, among them Trek scribes Michael Okuda and David Mack, have reported that Margaret Wander Bonanno has died in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was 71.
Her list of literary contributions to Star Trek is short but potent. She is often celebrated by both fans and colleagues for her portrayals of Vulcans in such novels as Dwellers in the Crucible, which examined the t’hy’la bond between Kirk and Spock through a feminine lens; the 2004 Lost Era novel Catalyst of Sorrows; and the event novel Strangers from the Sky, which numerous fans of extra-canonical Trek material uphold as their preferred version of the First Contact Day story. Up until Discovery, her 2006 novel Burning Dreams was widely considered the definitive treatment of the Christopher Pike character.
Bonanno’s third novel for Pocket Books was at the center of an infamous fiasco, in which her original manuscript of a sequel to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, submitted in 1990 and entitled Music of the Spheres, was thoroughly gutted by the editorial regime of the day and given over to a reluctant Gene DeWeese for a wholesale rewrite, which was eventually published in 1992 as Probe. However, because the covers had already been printed prior to the rewrite, hers was the name featured on the front of the book. Bonanno disowned the published product. A brief breakdown of the debacle is available on her website. She continued to make the original manuscript for Music of the Spheres available at no charge through email correspondence. Although that, needless to say, is no longer an option, a PDF can thankfully be easily procured.
Notable non-Trek works by Bonanno include the Others trilogy; a 1987 biography of Angela Lansbury; Saturn’s Child, a science fiction novel co-written with Nichelle Nichols; and the sci-fi trilogy Preternatural, the first book of which was edited by one Greg Cox, who called it “a weird, ambitious, metafictional, loosely autobiographical tour de force about a struggling midlist science fiction writer who may or may not actually be in contact with alien intelligences.”
Bonanno was one of Star Trek‘s finest authors, and she will be greatly missed.