According to Memory Alpha

Klingons were capable of living well over a century in age. Individuals such as Kang, Koloth, Kor, and Arne Darvin lived well over one hundred years. (DS9: "Blood Oath", "Trials and Tribble-ations", "Once More Unto the Breach.

However, I have a clear memory of reading a Star Trek novel (long ago) in which Klingons were described as having a short life span. In fact, the life span given -- 8 years -- was so ridiculous that it stuck in my memory.

One caveat: it is possible that 8 years was the time to puberty, but I definitely remember 8 years. I remember nothing else about the novel.

Does this ring a bell with any of you Star Trek gurus, or should I see a neurologist?

  • 2
    Possibly getting confused with Voyager, where the Ocampa only live for eight years? Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 8:23
  • What I remember was definitely in a novel, and I read it before Voyager appeared.
    – user48960
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 10:23
  • 2
    It'd be hard to confuse Klingons and Ocampans. Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 17:31
  • 1
    Eight years to physical maturity was arguably established in the episode Sons and Daughters (the guy in the page picture there is an enlisted soldier at eight years old), but that could also be because the writers were hoping nobody would notice and simply needed the character to be an adult now for Plot! reasons.
    – user36551
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 20:35

1 Answer 1


You're probably thinking of The Final Reflection by John M. Ford.

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I bought it in the mid-1980s, when it was a newly released paperback, and I loved it. But I believe a lot of the details about Klingon culture and biology which Ford invented to flesh out his characters were then firmly ignored by lots of other writers who contributed new material to Star Trek in one way or another before the recent reboot -- people who wrote novels, TV scripts, movie screenplays, etc. -- and that's probably just as well.

I remember it was made clear within the text that Klingons matured significantly faster, and died of old age (if they lived long enough) much younger, than did the humans of that era. (Note: This was set decades before James T. Kirk became captain of Enterprise. A very young Spock appears onstage in one scene -- the one depicted on the cover -- and little Leonard McCoy is stated (by his grandfather) to still be in diapers.) I don't remember if we were told exactly at what age the average Klingon reached puberty, and/or became regarded as a "legal adult" by the laws of their Empire. It's been a long time since I last reread my copy of the novel.

With that said, I'll acknowledge that "reaching puberty around age eight" is much closer to what I vaguely remember than "might drop dead at age eight" would be. I believe there was one point where a major human character -- Dr. Tagore, appointed to be a Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire (the first such Ambassador, I think) -- asks Captain Krenn (the Klingon who is the main viewpoint character) about his age, is told that Krenn is about twenty-five (or a little under) and says something to the effect that one way to look at it was that both of them might last another twenty or thirty years, if nothing violent happened to cut their lifespans short. (Dr. Tagore was, I think, somewhere around age 70 at that point.) Sorry I can't look it up for you to get the exact wording, but my copy must be inside a box in a storage unit at the moment.

  • Is that reaching puberty or completing puberty? I think 8 is around the age where many humans start puberty.
    – SBoss
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 14:29
  • 3
    @SBoss Sometimes puberty starts as early as age 8, but usually it starts around age 11. On average girls enter puberty a little earlier than boys do. Puberty ends arounda age 16 and, again, for girls it ends earlier on average than for boys.
    – user45485
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 15:56
  • I think this is very likely to be the correct answer, and mid '80s sound right for the date, but I will hold off on the green check until Wednesday in case something else turns up. As I said, I don't remember anything about the novel, although I'd probably recognize it if I read a page or two. It absolutely was a novel, not a TV episode. Many thanks!
    – user48960
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 23:22
  • 1
    I also support The Final Reflection. Since the Klingons lived shorter lives than humans and gave their ages in Klingon years that were longer than Earth years, their stated ages were younger than those of humans. (that made the lifespan of the historical emperor Keth the centenarian even more impressive) I find it hard to believe that Spock was older than McCoy, and thus I suppose that the grandson in diapers as a younger first cousin of the doctor, also named Leonard. Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 6:22
  • @M.A.Golding Spock was born in 2230, McCoy in 2227, so yeah, Spock was younger.
    – JAB
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 17:05

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