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Years ago, Lieutenant Uhura befriended a diplomat from Eeiauo, a land of graceful, catlike beings. The two women exchanged forbidden songs and promised never to reveal their secret. Now the Starship Enterprise must race to save the Eeiauoans before a deadly plague destroys them all. Uhura's secret songs may hold the key to a cure, but the clues are veiled in layers of mystery. The plague is killing humans, threatening other planets—and Kirk must crack the code before the Enterprise succumbs!

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1985

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Janet Kagan

39 books49 followers

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5 stars
1,033 (41%)
4 stars
771 (30%)
3 stars
540 (21%)
2 stars
140 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 209 reviews
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews265 followers
Want to read
February 2, 2019
This hardcover is one of nine titles Gregg Press published.

They are:

"The Abode of Life" by Lee Correy 1986
"The Covenant of the Crown" by Howard Weinstein 1985
"Corona" by Greg Bear 1985
"Mutiny on the Enterprise" by Robert E Vardeman 1985
"Black Fire" by Sonni Cooper 1986
"The Tears of the Singers" by Melinda Snodgrass 1986
"Uhura's Song" by Janet Kagan 1985
"The Final Reflection" by John M Ford 1985
"Triangle" by Sondra Marshak and Mynra Culbreath 1986

Profile Image for Jamie.
1,162 reviews105 followers
January 10, 2023
Uhurua's song is an anthropologically rich deep dive into a cat like alien culture (perhaps capitalizing on the Ewok craze of the early 80s). The story follows the Enterprise crew as they seek to overcome societal taboos in order to uncover a cure for a terrible plague, clues for which may be held within the culture's rich history of songs with which Uhura is familiar. Very interesting conceptually yet I found it overlong and frequently tedious and cryptic, and the portrayal of characters, particularly Kirk, overly cheery and cutesy. While it was great to see Uhura featured, at least to some extent, it was never in much depth unfortunately. To those familiar with it I would best describe Uhura's Song as something akin to an episode of "Star Trek: The Animated Series", though unfortunately not nearly as brief.
Profile Image for Mallori.
455 reviews20 followers
September 7, 2012
Rating-- 2.5
I picked this book up after I watched a round table discussion of Urban Fantasy writers that included Jim Butcher. One of the authors, I can't remember who now, mentioned this book in response to a question about enjoyable debut novels for authors they loved now. I had never read any Star Trek extended universe novels, so I figured it would be fun.

And it was. Reading characters you know so well from the TV Series was a lot fun, I could hear Dr. McCoy, Spock, and Checov's voices in my head as a I read, and it made me smile every time. I think she really nailed Spock and McCoy. The other characters were a bit iffy...

I also enjoyed the dilema that prompts this "episode" of the starship Enterprise (ADF Synddrome) and the alien cat-like race that Kagan created. This was actually the reason that I kept reading- to solve the mystery of both the disease's cure and why the alien culture had split in two 2000 years ago. There was a lot of suspense.


the book went on for so long the suspense kind of tired out and pure curiosity had to keep me goiong.
My other complaint was that this novel is very "Mary Sue Wish Fulfillment" if you are familiar with that trope. The character of Dr. Evan Wilson (female) was created for this story.

At first, I assumed this novel would revolve heavily around Uhura- her name is in the title! Exciting! And for the first few chapters, it does. We see Uhura and Spock working out the mystery of the alien species origins.
But then, Uhura takes second seat and Dr Wilson, who I had assumed was a minor character meant to be a throw away love interest for the Captain, takes center stage for the rest of the novel. And she is perfect and can do everything great!
She's a doctor who can sword fight, who's one of the guys with an easy friendship with McCoy and Scottie. At first the Captain doesn't like her, but that only lasts two chapters before she's his bossom buddy (we had to have some adversity, but she overcame it!). Then of course Dr. Evan dives right in and is great with the aliens, taking over the landing party and, of course, being perfect with First Contact, making friends with the aliens. She also fights for justice, never call anyone a derogatory name around her!

There's obviously a certain amount of suspension of disbelief when reading a Star Trek novel, but as I read on, I found myself getting frustrated by Evan Wilson's pure capableness that disbelief was no longer able to be suspended, which really made me disengage from the book. There was a lot of eye-rolling.
And suddenly, Uhura became a retiring violet? So ladylike and in need of protection?

At the very end of the novel, as Spock starts to solve the mystery of Dr. Evan's origins, I almost made peace with her Mary Sue perfection because But Kagan didn't! This wasn't the explanation at all! Instead, WTF?!?!?!?!

End rant.
Anyways, worth reading if you can withstand the eye rolling and are looking for a pleasant throw away story that will make you miss the original trek characters.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,641 reviews56 followers
May 3, 2023
Enjoyable...but not great.
Profile Image for Mikael Kuoppala.
937 reviews30 followers
March 2, 2016
Anthropological sci-fi is often excellent, and "Uhura's Song" is no exception. Solid, real characters and a fascinating imaginary culture studied in a deep probing way. Janet Kagan has managed to capture the characters in an innovative and extremely complex story that she manages to hold together only by uniquely talented writing and insightful characterization.

The premise of the story is simple enough: the planet Eeiauo is devastated by a plaque that hits its feline inhabitants once every few decades. Enterprise is called to the rescue as the disease starts to spread to other species and can no longer be contained. As time starts to run out and every try to control the plague fails, hope seems to be lost.

To the rescue comes Uhura who knew an Eeiauoan closely once. Closely enough for the Eeiauoan to share the forbidden songs of her ancestors with our musically talented lieutenant. Those songs might hold a clue for the cure of the plague as they imply a dark secret that lies beneath a taboo about the Eeiauoan's hidden heritage...

Soon the actual premise of the story looses its importance as it becomes only a means to telling a tale about a truly complex and intriguing alien culture that of course might hold the keys to solving the mystery plot concerning the Eeiauoans.

The book is full of color and nuance as it sucks the reader into a hidden alien world and offers new insights into old, familiar characters as well as introduces new players who are every bit as interesting. The narrative is a masterpiece of writing, providing new perspectives and offering a tale told with vibrant and meaningful language and exemplary pacing. We get to see character growth and non-sentimental exploration of feelings and cultural peculiarities that create an original angle for the reader to observe from.

"Uhura's Song" is undoubtedly one of the very best Star Trek novels ever written, and a truly excellent piece of storytelling that I recommend to everyone interested in world-building, sociological science fiction and anthropological speculation.
Profile Image for Christopher Rush.
618 reviews8 followers
July 28, 2011
So Janet Kagan's a cat person, then. I had not read any Star Trek books in a while, so I picked up where I left off with this. Despite the overwhelming goofiness of this book, it did not make me regret my decision to read it or get back into Star Trek books. The book is a great example of the freedom and, again, goofiness of the early '80s numbered series era, in which authors could create new characters and do bizarre things provided they didn't change the "status quo" of the Star Trek universe. Why they changed that notion in the last few years is beyond me - every year, now, it seems the main goal is to change the Star Trek universe drastically, without letting us get used to anything. Kagan's book is flawed, though, in that despite her stated attempt (see the great Voyages of Imagination) to make Uhura a stronger, vibrant character, Uhura takes a backseat to Kagan's invented Dr. Evan Wilson, an unusual, quirky girl with some strange secrets. She takes over the story, even though Uhura's song (which isn't even hers, really) does play a key role in getting the conflict resolved. Another odd thing of this book is that it starts out with great danger and immediacy: the threatening plague strikes quickly and dangerously, but then the Enterprise goes on a mostly laid-back journey to camp with the cat people for a week. Though the passage of time makes it believable that the days are slow, the ubiquitous smiles, cat-tail hijinks, and "wicked grins" betray the seriousness of the mission at large. The odd, rapid passage of time in the final chapter during the perhaps overly-long resolution is even more bemusing after the lengthy but faster-paced middle two hundred pages. It's one of those books that, by the time you're on page 150, you can't believe you aren't quite halfway done. By page 250 you're not sure how there could possibly be 100 more pages. By the end, you feel a tinge of regret that the book is over, since it was a fairly stress-free book, without a lot of the nonsensical extra-dramatic conflicts with which many other Star Trek books feel the need to suffuse their stories.
Profile Image for Bill.
908 reviews161 followers
March 3, 2018
In the opening three chapters of this Star Trek novel author Janet Kagan achieves quite a lot. She sets up the plot & even moves it along at a cracking pace. In addition to this she quickly establishes Star Trek characters we know & love & entertains us with some wonderfully fun dialogue that ranks with the best in the TV series.
I wondered what else she could do after cramming so much into just a few chapters. Sadly, the answer is not much. There are still some good things along the way, but it does lose its momentum & plods along. Such a shame after a really promising start.
Profile Image for Daniel Kukwa.
4,008 reviews90 followers
February 23, 2012
I can describe this in two ways. The first is "Star Trek does Lord of the Rings...with cats!" The second is "Roddenberry-esque". This is "Star Trek's" vision of peaceful first contact & exploration, captured to near perfection. A damning snub to anyone who thinks we will only believe in a dystopian future...and a reminder of why we all fell in love with "Star Trek" in the first place. The detail is exquisite, the regulars are expertly characterized, and the plot is breathtaking. In the spirit of Dr. McCoy, this is damn fine work.
Profile Image for Charlie.
376 reviews15 followers
June 13, 2013
I don’t think anyone who has watched The Original Series can forget the moment in “Charlie X” when Uhura is singing in the rec room while accompanied by Spock on the Vulcan lyrette. Her voice and songs are a reminder of beauty in an environment built for functionality and protocol. It is no surprise then, that a tie-in novel focuses on the power of Uhura’s songs and features worlds and aliens of equal power and beauty.

The Enterprise is orbiting Eeiauo (I pronounce this in my head like meow minus the m) as it lends its medical staff to help the cat-like Eeiauoans battle ADF, a miserable disease that causes protracted weakness leading to a coma and eventually death in all cases. The situation becomes urgent when it is discovered that ADF can infect many species and, due to its long incubation period, has already jumped from Eeiauo to other worlds.

Uhura holds the key to everything in the songs that she learned early in her career from befriending Sunfall of-Ennien, an Eeiauoan diplomat. They exchanged songs as a way to exchange cultures. The Eeiaoan songs hint that the Eeiaoans came from somewhere else and that there may be a cure for ADF there. Eventually, the songs also provide the key insight that breaks the case and leads to a cure for ADF. In between, Captain Kirk, Chekov, Spock, Uhura, and Doctor Evan Wilson spend time on Savao, the planet of origin of the Eeiaoans, making friends, learning about the culture, and having adventures in their efforts to find a cure for ADF.

Those parts of the book spent in anthropology and adventure are wonderful and beautiful. The Savaoans are interesting and exploring the cultural differences from The Federation is a lot of fun. I whole-heatedly recommend reading the book all the way through the mission and resolution of the plot. After you’ve gotten that far, throw your book at the wall in rage on my behalf and I’ll save you the grief of reading the rest:

All of the lovely and subtle thematic elements of the parallel between cultures is going to come down to the Enterprise crew smiling and shrugging at the egregious breaches of security that committed.


Maybe it’s that I just finished watching “Mortal Coil”, the episode of Voyager where Neelix dies and has a crisis of faith when he doesn’t experience an afterlife. I nearly rage-quit watching when Neelix is about to beam himself into space and Harry Kim locks him out of the transporter and Neelix over-rides the transporter lockout. Why can Neelix over-ride that?! Can Naomi Wildman with her Playschool My-First-PADD over-ride the transporter lockout? I know that Neelix has done some time in several departments including security, but is that in the orientation packet?

Which brings me back to the point…

It makes a certain amount of sense that Mary Sue pixie dream girl ::cough:: Doctor Evan Wilson would enchant Kirk, after all, she is a hot piece of tail that is perfect in every way: she swordplays with Sulu, she is feisty enough to take on a giant cat person to earn their respect, she is the BEST at first contact, she plays intellectual games with Spock of such complexity and cleverness that even he is fascinated, she has mad skillz with a computer (if she was in The Core DJ Qualls would have logged in to his computer to find out that she had already hacked the planet and hooked him up with a lifetime supply of his second favorite flavor of Hot Pockets), she calls Scotty laddie and has a shuttle fabricated of pure awesomeness that happens to have just the teensiest problem () that Scotty can look at instead of worrying about the away team on the planet, and speaking of the shuttle she’s such a good pilot that she doesn’t need the tractor beam to get it into the bay…….


So by telling you how ad nauseum awesome she is up front and spoiling the last 40 pages or so, I have freed you to read this book for the character moments that Uhura and Chekov2 have (which is not to say that any of the rest of the bridge crew is out of form, only that they are competently portrayed while not contributing new depth to their characters) and to enjoy the scenery.

In particular I loved that Uhura made friends with Rushlight, the Savaoan bard and their discussions of the place that song holds in each culture. They also discuss the difference in the treatment of intellectual property; To the Savaoans works of creativity are used as currancy; a song is repayed by helping with a camp chore and the gift of permission to replicate, perform, or improve upon someone else’s work is a strong symbol of trust and friendship. If someone chooses not to pass on their works before they die, those works die with them.

We also see from the beginning of the novel that Nyota (called StarFreedom on Savao) has a particular and inborn capacity for understanding and cherishing such gifts. She feels deeply and her sincerity forms strong friendships. In contrast Dr Wilson forms energetic, fast moving friendships but tires easily of hobbies and people. Both personality types are valid and valuable. The book would have been well-served to position Dr Wilson as a foil to Uhura allowing them to feed off of the other’s energy, instead Dr Wilson steals any scene that she is in, with Uhura fading into the background. .
Profile Image for Lis Carey.
2,165 reviews94 followers
April 4, 2023
I'll admit upfront this is a nostalgic favorite. I think it's also very good.

Early in her career, Lt. Uhura met a young diplomat from the world of Eeiauo. The two women bonded over music, singing, and the songs of their respective peoples and cultures. The graceful, catlike Sunfall of Ennian even shares songs with Uhura, and the Old Tongue they are sung in, that are not to shared except with other bards,

Years later, Uhura is now communications officer on the USS Enterprise, which is on a mission of mercy to Eeiauo, where a terrible plague has broken out. The infected individuals become weak, their fur (or hair, as they make the unhappy discovery it also affects humans), become stiff and achy, fall into comas, and die. One of those dying is Uhura's old friend, Sunfall.

McCoy and others are on the surface working directly with Eeiauoan medical personnel. Chapel is among the humans who have fallen ill.

Spock works out that the Eeiauoans can't be native to their current world. Uhura has reached the same conclusion from reexamining the songs Sunfall taught her. Together they set to work figuring out where their homeworld is. The Eeiauoans can't, or rather won't, help them, because they left their homeworld for what the consider deeply shameful reasons. They don't even want it being said that there was a homeworld.

McCoy and others on the planet look for a successful treatment or cure. Kirk and the Enterprise, with Spock and Uhura still working the information they have to locate the homeworld, head off to find it.
We get alternating sections following McCoy and his colleagues, and, when they find the planet, Kirk, Uhura, Spock, Chekov, the interim Medical Director Evan Wilson, and Sulu beam down to the planet to make contact. What follows is a wonderful tale of worldbuilding, a very interesting alien culture, and the unraveling of a very knotty problem.

The natives on the Eeiauoans' homeworld, the Savaoans, are also deeply ashamed of the events that led to the exile of the Eeiauoans. They are not going to talk, even to save lives, until the landing party figures out the reason they won't talk. It's complex and fascinating and frustrating.

The ending is quite satisfying, and then there's a sort of epilogue, that you may like or loathe.

I bought this book.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
9,331 reviews399 followers
September 6, 2020
Excellent. Strikes a nice balance between being a story that needs the familiar characters to exhibit their familiar attitudes and behaviors (that is to say, to be a Star Trek story) and a story that could have been successful with original creators (that is to say, to be a traditional SF story.)

Love that there are no bad guys, no interplanetary/empire politics or shoot-em-ups. One new Starfleet character only. Humor & wit.

Interesting that it deals so familiarly (presciently) with a plague. Asymptomatic sufferers are spreading it and so contact tracing is often ineffective, quarantine isn't being enforced, much is unknown about how it works or even how to treat it, and it's quite deadly....

The First Contact is very well done. Primitive does not equal stupid. The effectiveness of the Universal Translator makes ppl unconsciouly assume that if words are known, concepts must also be. Kagan's Law of First Contact: "You'll surprise you more than they will."

"Tell him he how young he looks for his age. I've seldom seen a world where that's not a compliment."

"When scandalous people start behaving respectably, watch out."

Even though I could have done without the complexities of the Evan Wilson character & subplot I enjoyed this enough to give it four stars, which I generally do not give to Star Trek stories. And I do recommend it if you're interested.
Profile Image for Miranda.
233 reviews29 followers
February 23, 2017
My rating for this book was tricky to settle on. On the one hand, this book has so many great qualities that outnumber my complaints. On the other hand, my complaints hold more emotional and logical—I’d say—weight.

First, the good stuff:
The places they boldly go. Kagan writes wonderful anthropologic world-building of Eeiauo and Sivoa. Oh, how I adore these cat people! Sivoan culture takes center stage most of the novel, and it’s delightful seeing Uhura successfully making first, significant contact thanks to her linguist skills, adaptability, emotional intelligence, and overall sharp mind. Also, Chekov surprises and impresses all with his survivalist skills, which is super charming and adorable.

(Star)shipping Uhura and Spock. Uhura and Spock have many lovely moments together. One instance is when Uhura respects Spock’s Vulcan identity and culture by attempting to shelve her emotions (about Sunfall) to simultaneously protect Spock from discomfort and focus on working on a solution to ADF syndrome. Although Spock is grateful and impressed by Uhura, Spock puts Uhura’s emotions above his comfort and assures Uhura that her emotions—and emotional intelligence—are not only a strength but necessary to find a solution just as much as his logic. I was super against the pairing of Uhura and Spock in the JJ movies, but had moments like these existed as tinder for their relationship, I would have been more on board.

A theme by any other name. The theme about the importance of names, of respecting what an individual wishes to be called over the ease of others and earning a name (the merits and flaws in that practice), is a worthy one to explore. And Kagan explores it well in this novel. The moment Jinx becomes Another StarFreedom to-Enouia will remain one of my most cherished head-cannon moments. Also, I enjoyed the theme of what constitutes adulthood and maturity.

Women at warp. I didn’t even notice this until I listened to the Women at Warp podcast’s book club episode, but Kagan included so many female characters!

Now, my complaints:
So, Mary Sue me. Although arguments and complaints that Dr. Evan Wilson is a Mary Sue character are understandable, criticism that rests there and is limited to her being just too perfect or an author wish-fulfillment are unfair and deficient. Her overwhelming amount of skills are ultimately explained to her secret (true)—but not totally explained—identity.

The bigger problem is two-fold. First, many of Wilson’s skills and character moments could have been allocated to the classic TOS team. Kirk loves climbing mountains, he could have climbed trees. McCoy could have been the doctor on the away team, or maybe even better, Nurse Chapel could have! Sulu is great at combat! As is Kirk, Spock, or, hey, it’s Uhura’s Song, let’s give Uhura even more to do because even the show set precedent for her being physically fit and ready to cuff someone when deserved. Especially if Fetchstorm had addressed her in a derogatory fashion, as the linguist (as well as a black woman), she’d know the weight of Fetchstorm’s words—an emphasis on their intent over form—and readers would be more deeply affected by that moment had Uhura retaliated as Wilson does.

The Wilson intrigue made the plot a little more dynamic, but I didn’t need it to be. What I needed was my second point: this is a book entitled Uhura’s Song, I expected Uhura to be the star, with some switching POVs. But once our landing party, along with Brightspot and Jinx, began the Walk, Wilson took center stage (as well as Spock’s interest). Also, side note, I certainly didn’t need the shameless flirting and uncomfortable comments made toward Wilson by men.

Whether or not Wilson is a Mary Sue, I like her character; but I cannot forgive Kagan for giving her the spotlight over Uhura for so much of the novel. So, while I give Kagan’s book 4 stars because it’s a fun read filled with seriously good writing, I feel that it may deserve less because of my disappointment.
Profile Image for Bea .
1,981 reviews137 followers
September 5, 2019
I hadn't reread this book in many years and wondered how well it would hold up. Happily, it holds up well. Kagan wove an engrossing story about cultural change, shame, expectations, societal attitudes, ecology and climate change, and wrapped it up in humor, cleverness, and adventure. Most of the ST 7 get a chance to shine with guest appearances by Nurse Chapel and Doctor M'Benga. Kagan's original characters, and species, are delightful. I'm sorry we never got another story with Tail-Kinker to-Ennien.

The Kindle edition had some formatting issues and some typos that aren't in my paperback edition.
Profile Image for Bev.
2,904 reviews259 followers
May 30, 2022
One of my favorites. I have a real fondness for the early Trek novels...before Star Trek became such big business and so many people wrote just for the love of Star Trek.
Profile Image for Steve.
1,045 reviews
March 8, 2019
I quite enjoyed this focus on one of the more minor characters of the Star Trek TOS universe, and it makes me happy that she was such an integral part of the story. The action picked up from the first page, and while I seriously question some of the timing involved -- it seemed to move at the speed of the plot, not by any actual proper means, I could get past it. The plot twists came thick and fast, and I enjoyed the climax, but I would have preferred a little more resolution.
Profile Image for Teshas.
3 reviews
September 3, 2022
It's not a bad story, but very clearly an early work of Kagan's. I was disappointed that it focused less on Uhura and more on a somewhat Mary-Sue-ish author insert; and the banter between her and most of the male main characters gave me the creeping feeling, that this story started out as a reverse harem fantasy. Nevertheless I cannot give a Kagan story less than three stars.
Profile Image for Jersy.
761 reviews61 followers
April 9, 2019
This combines pretty much everything I want and expect from a Star Trek book/story: spending time with the characters I know and like, some interpersonal stuff, getting to know another alien culture and a conflict that feels serious enough without making you feel uneasy.
A lot of time is spend getting to know the culture of this feline species, and that´s just the way I like it. Maybe it harms the sense of urgency a little, but I don´t mind.
The familiar characters were behaving in-character and the new ones were quite interesting, well developed and likable. The book has 500 pages, but it never felt that long, since it was an easy read. For some people, maybe it could be too slow and character focused, but I think the average Star Trek fan won´t have an issue with that.
The story is self-contained enough to be read by people that might not have a huge connection to the series, I think you get to know the cast quickly enough to never notice you missed out on something.
Maybe not the most mind blowing science fiction, but still a really nice story.
Profile Image for Reesha.
141 reviews3 followers
April 11, 2021
4.5 stars. This is one of the best Star Trek books I have read, interesting and engaging from beginning to end. I would love to watch an entire series about the inventive new species explored in these pages!

The only downside to the book is that the slight "mystery" surrounding a prominent original character, which is maintained at a low level and referred to regularly throughout the book, turns out to be incredibly lame. It added nothing at all to the story and caused it to end on an eye-rolling note. But, that's a small part of the book that can be (and should have been) disregarded.

The real meat of the story is the new feline species we're introduced to and their truly fascinating culture. Though, if you don't like cats, you probably won't enjoy learning about them as much as I did...

I love whenever Uhura gets a chance to shine, and she certainly did in this story. The true heroes are various members of the new species that we meet, but Uhura and Chekov both get multiple good moments.

Excellent world-building and several wonderful new characters I'd love to meet again. Definitely worth a second read, too!
28 reviews5 followers
June 14, 2015
So many Star Trek novels are more about epic battles than great stories. This novel is a delightful exception. The story line broadens the characters of Uhura and Chekov, allows delightful Spock insights, and introduces new characters that grab attention in all the right ways.

When I finished this book I knew I would miss all my friends in this story. I immediately went online to see if this author had penned other ST stories. Alas, she did not. However, it was interesting to see that many people list Uhura's Song as one of their favorite ST novels. I agree. If you're looking for an escapist story that will allow you to visit another world for awhile, check out this book.

NOTE: Janet Kagan has written other novels (non Star trek) and I'm adding them to my want to read list.
234 reviews13 followers
December 6, 2007
Um, it has cat people and serious Mary Sue problem. It also has some nifty world-building and anthropology going on, which TOS novels tend to kind of ignore. That being said, the author flails around a lot when it comes to lingustics (we have a universal translator! But that's a really stupid idea! So umm... it doesn't always work! Except when it does! Which doesn't necessarily have to do with how linguistically complicated a given thing is!)
Also, Uhura gets to do stuff (although it's annoying as hell that a book that's allegedly hers has the Sue character outdoing everyone). So... not without merit, but serious drawbacks.
Profile Image for Kieran McAndrew.
1,806 reviews11 followers
November 12, 2018
The people of Eeiauo are dying of a hideous plague which soon crosses species boundaries, threatening everyone in the Federation. Deep in their half forgotten lore is a mystery which may prove the key to their salvation.

Uhura must decode their ancestral songs to uncover their shameful secrets and save a planet from disaster.

Kagan focuses on Uhura, but creates a wonderful civilisation for readers to explore as the Away Team searches for a cure.
Profile Image for Robynne Lozier.
247 reviews15 followers
March 1, 2023
Most people think these Star Trek Books are light, and fluffy and not in any way serious literature at all.

Well for someone like me - who loves Star Trek and especially Uhura - this was a wonderful Reread!!

I discovered TOS when I was a teenager, and basically grew up on TOS reruns and TNG first run seasons. I also grew up with a HUGE bundle of Old National Geographic Magazines in the basement of my parents house, which got me interested in Maps and Anthropology.

Most of us are aware that Uhura (TOS) is a singer as well as a communications officer. Some time earlier in her life, she met a "bard" from Eeiauo (a Planet name with ALL vowels!!) and they swapped old traditional songs and also bawdy songs that were not sung in polite company.

In the present day (24th century) the Eeiauoans are being ravaged by a plague and worse still, it seems to be spreading.

The Enterprise is sent to the planet to try and find some answers. Uhura's friend has already fallen ill and is in a coma.

Uhura only has the old songs she was taught, to find the answers. Eventually one of the songs describes a constellation in the sky that may be where the Eeiauoans originated from, because there are no fossil records of their kind in the planet crust.

So, leaving Dr McCoy on the planet, the crew of the Enterprise head for this constellation to try and find the planet the Eeiauoans may have originally come from.

Upon arrival, Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Chekov and the temporary medical officer beam down and make first contact with the locals.

The entire First Contact was described just so wonderfully, I loved reading it. And as they get to know each other. the Crew hit a brick wall. Noone will speak of the Eeiauoans, because they were exiled from the planet some 2000 years ago.

Also the Crew are assumed to be "Children" and are treated as children. In order to become adults they must participate in a rite of passage - a Walk - of several days to another village that needs new adults.

This rite of passage was also described in wonderful detail as well. While on this walk, Chekov falls ill, and the crew discover the cure they are looking for. They must also catch and cook their own food and make their own weapons as well.

It turns out that the Plague on Eeiauo affects adults much more dangerously than it does children. and once you have had this disease you never get it again. (Kind of like Chicken pox for human children and shingles for the human adults). Because all of the Exiles had already had the disease as children, when they were exiled, they never carried the bacterio-phage with them so it never established itself on the new world.

Once the Enterprise crew complete their Walk, they declare themselves to be adults, as is traditional for the Sivaoans (the inhabitamts of the home world) and promptly leave to fly back to Eeiauo to help stop a plague.

The only real side story was a pesky imposter crew member who seems to be a genius. She is a qualified doctor and also a physicist and those skills were both done under 2 different names. There was an implication that neither of those names is her original birth name. She seems to have been used to keep Spocks brain occupied.

I read this book back in the 1980s and I loved it then. It has been close to 40 years and I still loved it just as much now, even now that I am long past my teenage years. Definitely 5 stars.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bron.
446 reviews6 followers
April 21, 2021
Lovely isn't an adjective I would normally apply to a Star Trek novel, but this really is a lovely story. It's a bit different from the usual, for a start there are no phaser fights or photon torpedo battles, in fact, the main weapons in use are spears with stone points and they are used to fend off fierce animals, not for fighting sapients. The one thing I remember from reading this before, when it first came out, was that Chekov knew how to knap a Neolithic spear head, something which impressed me hugely.

In this novel, a devastating disease has ravished a Federation world and no cure or vaccination can be found. Uhura has learned some of the native songs, which provide a clue to the fact that the population are exiled from another planet. Between them Spock and Uhura work out where that planet might be and the Enterprise sets off in the hope that a cure for the disease may be found on the home world.
The best part of the story takes place on that planet, Sivaoa. There they find a society that seems primitive at first glance, but it isn't - they have found a balance between technological advancement and their traditional way of life. Unfortunately that tradition makes it impossible for them to discuss their exiled relatives until the Enterprise contingent have undergone a gruelling rite of passage called the Walk.
The Sivaoan people and their society have been beautifully realised - it seems harsh to the humans, but they are not cruel, they are honourable and good humoured, quick to make friends and share songs. Definitely a good read.
Profile Image for Octavia Cade.
Author 86 books108 followers
June 15, 2022
This was lovely - one of the best Star Trek books I've read. I really enjoyed that it strongly featured Uhura, who never got enough to do in the series. It's got an interesting premise, too: an old friend of Uhura's comes from a world that is suffering a sudden, massive outburst of a lethal disease. The only hope to find a cure lies in ancient songs that indicate the population came from another planet, some time in the very distant past... and that planet might have a cure. The whole thing's done extremely well, from the highlighting of the medical doctors to the creation of a sentient alien species that's basically giant cats. A book about talking cats may sound cutesy, but there's rather more effort put into culture and characterisation than otherwise might be the case - notably, this book's substantially longer than many of the early TOS books, so there's more opportunity for Kagan to explore her creations.

Notable, too, is the utter lack of military conflict between characters. Yes, they're fighting the disease, but everyone's doing their best, in their own way, to bridge culture gaps and work together to try and overcome the problem. It's a book absolutely stuffed with decent people, trying hard, building relationships, and there's not a single bloody space battle or anything similar, which frankly is not missed by me in the slightest. This is far, far more interesting to read and I wish more Trek books would follow suit, really lean into the non-violence and delight in learning about others that was the basic idea of the series in the first place.
Profile Image for Olga Godim.
Author 12 books71 followers
March 18, 2023
This was the author's debut novel, and it showed. It was ... the word I'm seeking is 'primitive', just like the TV show Star Trek that inspired it. Primitive emotions. Primitive characterization. Primitive dialog. Primitive astrophysics. As I read, I saw those characters from the show in my mind, almost heard them speak. The book followed them precisely. It didn't bring anything new or insightful to any of them.
On the other hand, instant recognition might have been a prerequisite for a literary spin-off of a famous TV series. I don't know. I never read another Star Trek novel before this one and I am not going to read such in the future. I'm bored with this one already, and I'm only 13% in on my kindle.
The story is too slow, mired in too many irrelevant details. The POV jumps willy-nilly. One sentence, it is Spock's POV, the next - Kirk's, and in the middle of the next paragraph, Uhura's. Quite amateurish, really. So, DNF.
Profile Image for David.
16 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2018
I read this book once before, 25 years ago, when I was a sophomore in high school. I remembered it as a decent story, and with it, one girl in my history class who saw the cover when the book fell out of my book bag as I was pulling out my notebook and pen, and classmate laughing at the cover.

Reading it through this time, though, with adult eyes... I'm impressed with the detailed world building contained therein. I understand much more of the science presented in the text. I appreciate the felinoid alien race a little more with having had so many other cats in my life since I read this last. The sheer detail of the plot, the subplots, character developments, the mission feel of the story... Masterful. With over thirty years of Trek lore having been added since this book was originally written, it holds up excellently.
Profile Image for Tommy Verhaegen.
2,291 reviews7 followers
November 27, 2018
De belangrijkste karakters van de originele Star Trek nemen hier ook de belangrijkste rollen voor hun rekening. Een fantastisch avontuur met First Contact perikelen, buitenaardsen (katachtigen), een overlevingstocht door de jungle van een vreemde planeet, een dodelijke ziekte die een heel volk met uitsterving bedreigt, een race tegen de tijd, ...
Spanning, aktie en humor op zijn best. Janet Kagan heeft hier een snel boek in een vlotte stijl geleverd waarvan ze er wat mij betreft nog vele mag schrijven. Weinig maar wel functioneel verantwoorde psychologie, verdieping van de kennis van de lezer over al bekende personen, alles past perfekt in mekaar. Ook de spannende, goed uitgewerkte en fascinerende plot met een "twist". Het geheel gelardeerd met een portie humor die het boek net dat ietsje meer geven om het boven de gewoon goede werken te doen uittorenen.
Profile Image for Jessica.
469 reviews15 followers
May 8, 2022
Love a cat alien world and all the little feline physical gestures, cultural discoveries, etc! Also ooof a plague plot -- interesting, but perhaps created too much tension, in that it seemed like the crew was happily messing around on the planet for forever with not enough sense of urgency. LOVE the marrying of culture & science, discovering necessary treatment through studying old songs.

Big points off for how Evan Wilson completely pulled focus from anyone/anything else. I thought this would center Uhuru for once! (though she did get some great parts.) I get it Evan's oh so spunky and mischievous and clever and everyone's obsessed with her, blah blah blah. At least it wasn't a random boring guy character, but still really got tiresome.
1,135 reviews7 followers
June 11, 2018
OK, I get it... not all alien worlds would be easily pronounceable (or easily rendered) in English. You didn’t need to make me pronounce “Eeiauo” in my head over and over to make that point.

Now that that’s out of the way... this was one of the best “numbered” Star Trek novels I have come across yet. It had an entertaining setup and was a nice investigation of two cultures from the same alien race. The characterizations of the main crew as well as the original characters was very good.
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