As in the title, I read it in the UK, maybe late eighties, I can't remember if paperback or hard cover, or if it was new, or one of the 'official' Trek novels.

Kirk is working in some low level role and, when occasionally recognised, is jeered at due to his past.

A planet with a race of intelligent beetle like humanoids was scoured by phasers and all killed, Kirk was held to blame, courts-martialled and drummed out of Starfleet (I think a computer glitch he should have been aware of).

He is now doing low level work at a spaceport (maybe a space station?) and something goes wrong on a passenger shuttle, using his skills he takes over and saves many - I think a few are still lost.

This brings him to the attention of a scientist girl (yay! Kirk still has it!) and they talk for a while, she studies obscure alien races, I think, and casually lets slip some important info.

The beetle people, due to odd weather conditions, have the ability to rapidly cocoon in a sturdy shelter and unfold stout wings to implement this, they can then hibernate for a long period.

Kirk somehow (I can't remember how but it's Kirk) gets a starship and gets to that world with a rescue squad. They find the residents are emerging from their cocoons to barren wastelands but Starfleet quickly helps.

A beetle girl approaches Kirk (what a guy!) and asks how to enlist in Starfleet, I think by this point he's already reinstated

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    I have this novel. You've gotten a few points wrong, but it is recognizable. Hang on while I find the name – JRE Nov 9 at 8:21
  • What are "beetle like humanoids"? Humanoids are aliens that look pretty much like people, like Vulcans or Klingons, right? So how are these ones "beetle like"? – user14111 Nov 9 at 8:21
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    @user14111 Pfff, if turtles can be humanoid, why not beetles. – Mr Lister Nov 9 at 10:56
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    @User14111 I think you have your terminology wrong. In science fiction in general humanoids are aliens with the same general body plan as humans; in Star Trek in particular humanoids are aliens who look exactly like Earth humans. And saying "Humanoids are aliens that look pretty much like people" is irrational because all intelligent life is people, thus all aliens look like themselves, and so look exactly like some people. Restricting the term "people" to Homo sapiens seems like bigoted thinking. – M. A. Golding Nov 9 at 17:10
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    @user14111 Yes, that's what the term means. I'm sorry if you find it confusing. Feel free to consult Wikipedia for more information. (I don't think I'd I'd count bears, since they usually stand on four legs. My ape example is borderline for the same reason.) – Phasma Felis Nov 10 at 19:23

The novel you are looking for is "Prime Directive" by Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens.

The Enterprise is sent to assist a Federation observation post on the moon of Talin IV. The Talin have the potential to cross the first contact level in the next few decades, but there are problems.

The two largest nations on the planet are continually on the edge of starting a nuclear war.

While the Enterprise is there, an incident occurs on the planet causing the leaders to come to a peace agreement and begin dismantling the nuclear weapons systems.

A supposed accident occurs, which causes some of the not yet deactivated weapons to launch. Kirk orders the Enterprise crew to take out the launched missiles. They manage to do it without being seen, and the Talin attribute the failure of all the launched missiles to a "miracle."

A few days later, all the missiles on the planet launch and explode. Some are even targeted at the Enterprise.

Kirk and the bridge crew are thrown out of Star Fleet for breaking the prime directive.

It wasn't really Kirk's fault, and the rest of the novel deals with the crew of the Enterprise getting back to Talin IV and proving what happened. Kirk does get reinstated, but he doesn't pick up any alien chicks or human scientists.

Spock makes use of a legal loophole to convince the Federation to help the Talin people. It also turns out that the Talin didn't start the war, there was already interference from outside (not from the Federation) so the prime directive shouldn't have applied in the first place.

The Talin are more dinosaur types than beetles - though something beetle-like does crop up, and has to do with why the nuclear war started on Talin.

McCoy has a more or less "scientific" discussion with a 10 year old girl at a tourist spot on the Earth's moon.

Scotty receives a compliment from a female Talin for wearing "a manly color" (his red uniform shirt.)

Sulu and Chekov have to talk their way out of being forced to have sex with green Orion slave women.

Kirk rescues some Tellarite children, and spends some weeks on a freighter with the (human) female captain, mostly telling her the story of Talin IV and cussing at her cats - who are named for Star Fleet admirals. She is ex Star Fleet, and recognized Kirk. They don't get together.

Spock attaches himself to a human protest group on Earth, and uses their activities in order to get access to a public Federation meeting. The leader of the group is female, and her boyfriend is jealous of Spock, but there's nothing between Spock and the girl.

All in all a definite lack of the usual interspecies pick ups and hookups you might expect of Kirk and the crew.

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    "Sulu and Chekov have to talk their way out of being forced to have sex with green Orion slave women." Oh the troubles these guys get into! – Rebel-Scum Nov 9 at 12:25
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    a pretty good novel - you beat me to the answer by about 7 hours lol. As soon as I saw the title of the question I was headed here to answer :D – NKCampbell Nov 9 at 16:33
  • Same here. One of my favourite novels, knew it as soon as I read the question. :) – Eight-Bit Guru Nov 9 at 22:38

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