Notice...

The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.


***SPOILER ALERT***
Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Galactic Culinary Society - Cryovacked by D.R. Schoel - This One Includes A Bonus Story - Both Are Great Fun!

The Galactic Culinary Society - Cryovacked by D.R. Schoel

Recently released, the third in a series of just-for-fun short stories featuring Jean Oberon of the Galactic Culinary Society is an adventure with a dark flavor (see what I did there?), and an interesting twist. This volume also contains a bonus story titled Rising Terror.

The story opens with the abduction of one Benjamin Thompson (1753-1814), an American-born physicist and inventor credited with the discovery of the sous vide method of preparing food. Sous vide allows one to cook food at lower temperatures for longer times to achieve a more evenly cooked item with the outside not being over cooked.

Thompson, also known as the Count Rumford, is living in Paris, France and conducting experiments on methods of heat transfer when he hears strange noises which he assumes are small animals scurrying about on his property. He soon learns it isn't animals entering his home, but Greelon abductors who wrap him up and take him on a long journey.

Jeane and her Greelon sidekick, Xstersi, are on a quest to find the last of a delicacy called Quibble Eggs. Along with that, Xstersi believes the eggs would be even more succulent if cooked using the sous vide method. Unfortunately, there are several obstacles along the way causing much frustration for the Greelon, and a lot of work on Jeane's part. A mysterious presence on board almost cooks our heroes by turning the entire ship into a sous vide machine. With only moments to spare, it is uncertain whether Jeane and Xstersi will survive.

In the second story, Rising Terror is about a sourdough starter that threatens to end the entire universe. If you pay attention, you might find an interesting thread connecting to one of Schoel's fellow authors.

As with the first two stories in the Galactic Culinary Society, Secrets of Umami and Song of the Golden Brew, I enjoyed the clever banter between characters and laughed several times throughout the story. Schoel has a knack for interesting language, but more than that, he has a knack for hiding little hints referring to real-world people and things in his writing. While his stories are meant to be fun, he takes the science content seriously and goes to great lengths to be as accurate as he can. I find his style of weaving fact with fiction and humor refreshing. 

Schoel assures me future stories are in the works.

One thing I should caution potential readers of these Galactic Culinary Society stories. Be sure you read these when there are no distractions. I made the mistake of trying to read this while the house was full of distractions and didn't get the stories the first time. On the second reading, I was home alone and able to fully concentrate and received the full flavor of these clever writings.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About D.R. Schoel:

I'm a writer and filmmaker with a Master's degree in film production. But they say it's the experience that counts: I've worked for nearly twenty years with the Inuit of the Arctic on many, many television  programs. I've also worked with Chad McQueen (son of movie icon Steve McQueen) on an un-produced project for Netflix, and wrote a feature film about a Jewish-Arab love story, Adam's Wall, released globally. I've presented a short film at Cannes (an autobiographical piece, The Fantastic Bus), won a Canadian screen award (the equivalent of the Canadian Oscars; is that worth mentioning?) and had aTop-10 documentary  at the Toronto Film Festival, Sol, about an Inuit circus performer who died in RCMP custody.

I like to travel, having been all across China - excluding Xinjiang, where Uyghurs were put into detention camps, and I had to go through police checkpoints, sometimes twice a day - to Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, The Dominican Republic, pretty much everywhere in Europe, and the Arctic. Lastly, I'm a lifelong fan of Sci-Fi and since I can't (yet) go into space... I like to daydream about it.

You can follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DRSCHOEL), and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/@drschoel2013).

The Secrets of Umami is the first in my new series, The Galactic Culinary Society. I have lots of surprising ideas to explore. To keep up-to-date on all things related to the GCS and Intergalactic Chef Hunter, Jeane Oberon, you can sign up for my newsletter at GCS NEWS.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Ground Control by K.A. Hough - A Study Of What One Might Feel About Moving To Mars Perminantly And A Solid Sci-Fi Story

Ground Control by K.A. Hough

I received an advance copy for free and am leaving this review voluntarily.

Ground Control is a sci-fi speculative fiction story about Sarah Harper. Along with her husband and children, she is moving to Mars. Yes, Mars, where there is a colony awaiting a large shuttle carrying many passengers to expand a colony already there.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. In the blurb, it was mentioned that this was a story more of a women's fiction novel as opposed to a science fiction story. I almost didn't pick it up for that reason. But as I read, I liked Sarah and her kids.

Despite the blurb, there is a good, light sci-fi story without a lot of technical jargon to weigh it down. It is truly about Sarah and the important people in her life.

I enjoyed this book and appreciated the attention to detail, the character development, and how Sara's story intertwined with the sci-fi theme. It was easy to read, and the science felt plausible and accurate.

The story opens with Sarah asking her husband for a divorce. Grant, a hard-charging, self motivated scientist, is chosen to move his family to Mars. Permanently. Without discussing it in advance, Grant accepted the honor and abruptly broke the news to her. After a great deal of soul searching, Sarah finally chooses to go along with Grant.

The family goes through extensive preparations and board the shuttle for Mars. The ship is enormous and the accommodations are marvelous. Sarah begins to think of it as home. The kids can go to school, Grant can immerse himself in his work, and Sarah is free to do whatever she wants. 

After a tragedy aboard the ship, Sarah has to step up and help solve a problem that threatens the lives of everyone on board, and at the same time, go on a journey of self-discovery.

The principal character, Sarah Harper, is a highly intelligent, well organized human being who faces a situation causing her a lot of anxiety. As she prepared for the long trip to her new home on Mars, she thinks about everything she will give up when she leaves the Earth. From the beginning of their relationship, she has felt more like Grant's "sidekick" instead of a companion. The big problem with Grant is, he never seems to be home long enough to be a proper husband and father. Before the children came along, Sarah would travel with him, but in order to provide them with a stable family life, she has to stay behind. Grant continues to travel on lecture tours and conferences. Sarah is a strong female character, but she doesn't realize it herself. Everyone seems to know what per potential is, but it takes a couple of tremendous challenges for her to understand what she can actually do. Sarah is a completely believable character; she has a few human flaws but knows how to land on her feet when the occasion arises.

I've probably made Grant out to be a jerk, but he really isn't. He is a good man who provides well for his family. What he doesn't seem to understand is how to be part of a family. He is never home as he pursues his career. He seems to believe as long as everything seems okay when he stops by; it is okay. During his career, he achieves an almost celebrity status and is constantly called on to present at conferences and guest lecture all over the world. In a way of showing Sarah he understands her loneliness, he buys her a kitten, placing it in her lap as he goes off to another appointment. He sees moving to Mars as an opportunity to spend more time with Sarah and the kids, which is to his credit. Such is the life of an overachieving professional climber such as Grant.

My favorite point of plot in this book would also be a huge spoiler. I'll just say I didn't see the event coming. It was a complete surprise and a life-changing plot twist.

What I am taking away from Ground Control is the story of a person who has potential (Sarah was told how much potential she had for most of her entire life, but she saw it as more a failure than a positive thing), searching to achieve her own identity. Unlike Grant, she wasn't seeking notoriety in a career, but as an accomplished human. When it seemed she had finally found her niche, her entire life was changed through no action of her own. She constantly second guesses herself until she faces a problem. It is a good feeling when she finally discovers what she is supposed to do and is successful in her search for self meaning.

Ground Control is a look into the life of a fascinating character told from her point of view. While there are a few lighter moments in the story, it is a serious look at someone who needs to find her purpose in life. I think anyone can find themselves in the way Sarah uses introspection to make decisions, both good and bad. It is an excellent story, well written and edited. I was moved by this book and am thankful I discovered it.

I would warn potential readers to have a box of tissues nearby while reading this. Some may relate to it more through their own personal experience.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

K.A. Hough is a Canadian writer who balances her passion for exercise and science with her love of cookies and nonsense. She currently lives in London with her husband, their three energetic kids, and a codependent dog. In her spare time, she writes personal essays, teaches boot camps in the parks, and drinks tea.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Monday, September 6, 2021

Planet Scumm: Issue #11: Snake Eyes - I Read It Cover-To-Cover And Loved Everything About It

Planet Scumm: Issue #11: Snake Eyes

I received a review copy of this magazine for free. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

A few days ago, I received an email from Tyler Berd, Managing Editor of Planet Scumm, asking if I would be interested in posting a review. I've since read the issue cover-to-cover and am more than happy to oblige Tyler and his crew.

Overall, Planet Scumm is a Sci-Fi anthology magazine that releases three times a year. It is published by Spark and Fizz Books. On the website, it is explained what the publication's purpose is...

"Born out of reverence for the bizarre science fiction magazines of the pulp era, our short story anthologies showcase collections of original fiction by international authors. We cherish the genre as an open forum for philosophy, anxieties, and thought experiments. We are proud to emphasize the central role of artwork in sci-fi and are committed to working with and supporting independent illustrators."

Issue #11: Snake Eyes is a collection of eight stories with LGBQT+ themes to "highlight voices that have been traditionally underrepresented in science fiction and speculative fiction."

I found all eight stories amazing. There is a good variety of writings, all are entertaining and accessible. When I review an anthology, I usually focus on one story, but in this case, I have no favorites because they are all so different from one another. It is truly an excellent collection of writings.

The artwork included with the entries is also a collection of illustrtions representative of the stories.

All together, Planet Scumm's stories and illustrations remind me of the old Omni Magazine with a feel of pulp fiction anthologies. One bonus of Planet Scumm is how clean it looks. It is truly about the authors, illustrators, and the guest editor. One will not be inundated with a lot of fillers and advertisements.

Planet Scumm is worth a look. Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Visit their website: https://www.planetscumm.space/ for information on the magazine, subscriptions, future issues, and how to contribute. 

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Colony: Life On Mars by Paul R. E. Jarvis - Characters And Plot Twists Make This A Great Read

Colony: Life on Mars by Paul R. E. Jarvis

An ad for this book appeared on my Facebook feed and borrowed it through Kindle Unlimited.

As we get closer to a possible manned mission to Mars, it is not surprising to see authors letting their imaginations run with the trope. Also, as technology advances, those stories are getting more intricate. As far as I have read, most of the travel to the Red Planet stories are all pretty much the same in formula. People travel to Travel to Mars, there is trouble along the way, there is trouble on the surface, people have to leave and return to Earth or die on an alien world. All of them have their own plots and characters, and I enjoy them all. But Colony: Life on Mars stands out as one that is unique among many I have read.

I read this story in a single day, just not able to set it aside, and completely engaged every single minute I read. I was honestly on the edge of my seat the entire time and only took a break from reading to have dinner with the family.

I enjoyed the richness of the tale of an advance team of astronauts and specialists heading out to make ready for a much larger craft to arrive with not just a few others, but enough people to found a colony. I enjoyed the diversity of characters. I loved the descriptions of the science and technology as it appeared. Colony is a fun and engaging story with an interesting twist.

There are a few plot-holes and some typographical errors in the Kindle text, but, if one can suspend their disbelief and overlook the typos, one will find a fantastic story of the plight of people making the impossible plausible.

In the not-too-distant future, Kelly Brown leads an international team of six astronauts on a journey to Mars. Her team comprises her second in command, a doctor, and other people with special skills to set up for the colonization of the planet. Weighing heavily on her mind, along with leaving her husband behind, is a previous unsuccessful mission that resulted in a destroyed space craft and a dead crew.

Kelly has been assured the problems that plagued the previous mission have been solved. With the crew's successful landing on the planet, it would seem everything will work out. But wait, there's more.

One of the characters pointed out that Mars seems like the kind of place that was made for killing people. 

There are numerous problems that arise, and one thing leads to another. It becomes a real struggle for survival as Kelly and her team awaits the arrival of the colony ship.

The characters n Colony are six astronauts who have training for the mission, and each has their own area of expertise. No character appears more important than the others, as they have to work together for survival.

I think the most prominent character in this story is the planet Mars itself. One of the characters in the story makes the statement that the planet seems to try to kill them. It also might seem the same to the reader. Most of the problems that happen with the advance crew results from the elements of the planet. Dust storms, seismic activity, and radiation are the major problems they face as the story unfolds. The timing of the incidents is also a major factor. 

The human characters are written to behave as real people would. They are all good people, and some are more flawed than others.

My takeaway from Colony is the man vs. nature theme. The members of the crew sent to mars are all prepared, in theory. But how can anyone be completely prepared for life in a place so completely alien to anything humans have encountered before? It is difficult enough to survive when nature seems against one, but in this case, it takes extra careful planning and resilience.

As I mentioned at the outset, there are a few shortcomings in this story, but I will not belabor them. The quality of the story is enough to forgive the few flaws I found.

Colony is a well-paced new take on the mission to Mars type story. It is fresh, entertaining, and jam-packed with action and plot twists. I recommend this book for those who enjoy a good character-driven story.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dr. Paul R. E. Jarvis is an author of fast-paced action thrillers. Originally from South Wales, Paul lives in Leeds in the north of England with his wife and two children. He has practised medicine in the United Kingdom for over twenty years and often uses his real-life encounters with people to add colour to his plots.

​He started writing during his breaks while working on the wards as a way of escapism from the harsh reality of hospital medicine. 2019 saw the publication of his first novel, The Danzig Corridor, which was followed by Colony in 2020. Now, his work frequently takes him overseas, so most of his writing is done at 30,000 feet.

​Paul is an accomplished public speaker and entertains audiences with his witty but challenging presentations, covering a wide breadth of topics from Avoiding Career Burnout to How to study for examinations. 

Paul's favourite quote is "Don't let yesterday take up too much of today!"

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Dogs of DevTown By Taylor Hohulin - High Powered Cyberpunk Sci-Fi That Feels A Lot Like Blade Runner

Dogs of DevTown by Taylor Hohulin

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Dogs of DevTown is a dystopian urban cyberpunk Sci-Fi story set in a place called DevTown. It could be any large city in the US where conditions have deteriorated to where crime runs rampant in the streets, and crime lords are in charge. The description of DevTown is very similar to that of a future Los Angeles in the 1982 Blade Runner film.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It starts with action and doesn't stop until one closes the book. It moves at breakneck speed, but it is so well written, the reader will have an easy time understanding the story. 

Everyone in DevTown is bad. No one seems to have any redeemable qualities, including the principal character, Shan Hayes. She is a bounty hunter who takes on contracts from crime lords to track down those who have crossed them. When Shan receives a contract from a particularly nasty crime lord, she does not know what she is getting into. For her, it is just another paycheck along the way. As she tracks her contract, she learns just how deep the evil goes in DevTown. A megalomaniacal cyber-entity seeks to download itself into a body, and Shan gets in the way. She is dogged by this entity until there is a final epic showdown. The contract she accepts could prove to be more than even she can handle.

Shan Hayes is a human who uses chemicals to enhance her abilities as she hunts for criminals. She is not a nice person and will go to incredible lengths to complete her tasks, including almost killing herself. There isn't a lot to say about Shan, other than she is relentless and ruthless. This is not someone I would want to meet in a dark alley, or anywhere else. One thing I would have liked to have known is a little more background on this character. Where did she come from? What made her the way she is? These are just a couple of questions I would have liked to know the answers to. What we know is she has shunned all the cybernetic and mechanical enhancements everyone else in the story seems to favor.

Shan relies on help from a few shady characters along the way. One, Kim Le, is a scientist in the NexDev tower, a prominent structure in DevTown. He is probably the closest thing to a friend in Shan's life. When Shan's use of chemicals for enhancements has taken her to a near point of no return, she goes to Kim, who puts her right again, with the use of more chemicals. He also supplies her with the drugs she uses to enhance her abilities.

Everyone in the city seems to have cybernetic enhancements, including Andromeda, a "tabber" (drug user) who knows how to gather information when he (Andromeda is typically considered a female name, but in this case, the character is male) can "jack" into the net. It is not clear if Andromeda can be trusted, but Shan has little choice; no one in the story can really be trusted beyond their own self-interest.

Shan's most reliable helper is Aldis, a parasite living in a canister on her side in a saline solution. Shan consults through touch. When she puts her hand into the solution, Aldis connects to her by drawing blood from her fingers. Aldis is also a powerful weapon Shan uses to takedown her targets. He provides company and advice as needed. 

My favorite plot point in DevTown is the final battle between Shan and her chief nemesis. It is a one of the best battle scenes I have read, and the outcome is uncertain all the way through.

My takeaway from Dogs of DevTown is Shen, a tenacious antihero, is forced into a position where she must fight for the good of all. She is not the type to care at all for anyone else. Because of the circumstances, she has to rely on others for help to achieve her goal, but more to survive than anything else. The irony of this story is palpable all the way through.

I was entertained by this book and wanted to read on when I had to set it aside. While I didn't find any of the characters people I could really care about, I did ironically find myself cheering for Shan and, more so, for Andromeda. I loved the fast pace and short length of DevTown and thought it was just right. There were moments I felt disgusted, depressed, and excited all at the same time. The author did a fine job setting the atmosphere for the book with descriptions making the scenes come alive.

I would recommend this book for those looking for a book that doesn't take a lot of thought to understand and enjoy a lot of twists and turns in their plot lines.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Taylor Hohulin is a radio personality by morning, a science fiction author by afternoon, and asleep by 9:30.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Three Aliens Walk Into A Bar: The Invasion Of Lake Peculiar Book 1 By Jack Ravenhill - A Funny Little Story With A Few Problems

Three Aliens Walk Into A Bar: The invasion of Lake Peculiar Book 1 by Jack Ravenhill

How could anyone resist a title like Three Aliens Walk Into A Bar? Well, I couldn't. I learned about this book from a blog I subscribe to that recommends books in various genres. Along with the title reading like the opening to a bad joke, I was drawn by the cover.

Three Aliens is a Sci-Fi Comedy focusing on strange characters who have gathered in a small town somewhere in Minnesota. It is full of funny situations, but only funny; I wouldn't go as far as to say hilarious. The characters are a group of widely diverse types ranging from somewhat normal to outrageously strange.

While the story wasn't what I would call great, it is good. It is solid and moves at a quick pace and is easy to read mostly, which brings me to my major complaint about the book.

I think the author should have run this book past the editor a few more times. The text has so many typos I found myself looking for them and being taken out of the story.

Now, before anyone goes off calling me a "Grammar-Nazi" I'll say no matter how many passes someone makes over a text, a few things will be missed. I've learned this from my writing. I've read several books that have one or two minor problems and tend to forgive them, but Three Aliens has so many, I could not ignore them and must wonder if this story wasn't rushed to release.

Despite the typos, I enjoyed the story and was entertained.

A phone app called Astra is showing numerous objects approaching the solar system from deep space. Scientists say the nature of these objects is inconclusive and could be anything. Later, it seems the objects' movements are not responding to gravity well encounters, and they appear to be accelerating as well. Many people jump to the conclusion that alien invasion is imminent. And with that, chaos and bedlam take hold in large population centers.

Gus and Sam, a couple of gamer-types, react as well. Gus decides it is time for a road trip to see a woman he has been internet gaming with calling herself the Night Fox. In Gus' grandiose thinking, this woman is his erstwhile girlfriend, and he is determined to meet her. Sam, Gus' meek-mannered sidekick, goes along for the ride against his better judgement.

When their car becomes inoperable along the way to the Canadian town where Night Fox lives, they catch a ride with a paranormal radio talk show host. Following another vehicular mishap, they wind up in Lake Peculiar, Minnesota, thanks to a good Samaritan who rescues them.

Meanwhile, Journey Devereaux, and her grandmother are evicted from their cabin in the Canadian woods and told they will have to move on. Thanks to the efforts of Sam and the good Samaritan that saved him, they can bring Journey to Lake Peculiar. Out of the goodness of his heart, Sam does this for Gus' sake, thinking she is the mysterious Night Fox.

In Lake Peculiar, there lives a collection of numerous types of people. All are interesting and some are down-right, well, peculiar.

When the aliens arrive, it is rumored the Russians launched nuclear weapons at a mothership and it resulted in the complete and utter destruction of Moscow in retaliation. Many are convinced this is an actual event, causing everyone to assume the visitors from far away are malevolent. However, when three members of the alien race arrive in town, they don't seem bent on destruction, or anything else for that matter. They just seem to stand and silently observe while the sleepy little town goes about business as usual.

Of the three principal characters of this story, Gus seems to be the most interesting, and the most irritating. He sees himself as a classic Renaissance man who knows everything, but he is really just full of crap. He has the uncanny ability to extrapolate fact from thin air with little or no evidence and gets on everyone's nerves. When the aliens arrive, he becomes a self-appointed goodwill ambassador to the aliens. Most of the people of the town just go about their business while Gus continues his boisterous proclamations of how the aliens will be a beneficial addition to the community. Everyone tends to ignore Gus once they find out what he is all about.

Sam is the opposite of Gus. He is wholly unassuming and rarely insinuates himself on anyone. He is almost powerless where Gus' influence is concerned and often finds himself worse off for it. Sam is a nice kid, and one gets the impression he is smarter than he lets on. As the story unfolds, he shows quite a bit of growth and should be an interesting character in future books.

Journey is blind and is also quite smart and independent. She has accepted the situation that robbed her of sight and despises pity and goes to great lengths to avoid showing any vulnerability. She is the best developed among all the characters in Three Aliens, and as such, the most interesting.

The blurb for the book promises that "if you enjoy Garrison Keillor's Tales from Lake Wobegon, you'll love Lake Peculiar." I would have to agree with that statement. My favorite point of plot is the irony of the townspeople's reaction to the aliens on their doorstep. While as the title suggests, the three aliens do not walk into the bar, but they do little else other than mildly intimidate the population of the sleepy little town. Everyone except for Gus avoids contact with them, but still, they remain seemingly unfazed by the most incredible event of human history.

I enjoyed this story, but I'm on the fence about whether I will invest time in the promised sequels. I was intrigued and entertained by Three Aliens, but I don't feel invested in the story enough to commit. That's not to say it isn't a fine story, it just has a few weaknesses - aside from the poor editing - that may be a little off-putting. Mostly, I have known too many people like Gus in my lifetime and am not sure I want to expose myself to the attitude in my entertainment.

I would recommend this book to someone who might look for light and entertaining story with lots of action and head-scratching logic. It's not bad.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jack Ravenhill loves to build strange and complex worlds rich with unforgettable characters, hidden corners, and looming questions. His favorite stories break down old categories and invite you into fresh and fascinating ways of thinking. Whether it's robot fairies or small-town aliens, whether the stakes are the fate of the world or a teenage heartbreak, Jack always gets you through with heart, humor, and a feast among friends.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Star Trek #21 - Uhura's Song By Janet Kagan - Didn't Love It & Didn't Hate It

Star Trek #21 - Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan

I found this book through an offer by the publisher offering it and others on Amazon for a bargain price.

I'm kind of on the fence about this book. I didn't hate it or love it. The plot is good; I like the idea of the Enterprise called to aid people in distress. That is what the Federation is about. On the other hand, I had a tough time getting all the way through the story and considered not finishing it a few times.

I think there are just too many words in this book. It seemed to have a lot of filler and unnecessary banter between characters. There is a lot of dialog broken up with a few scenes of action.

The USS Enterprise is sent to a planet populated by a feline race, where a deadly disease is escalating. Dr. McCoy and Nurse Chapel beam down to the planet and begin searching for a cure but are having little success. A cure becomes even more urgent when it is learned the disease is jumping species and humans are also infected. They learn about a possible cure on a faraway planet where the felines are originally from. Kirk leads the Enterprise to that planet where Uhura learns about a song that tells about the cure in its last verse. Unfortunately, Kirk and company may not hear the last verse because they are not considered adults on this planet. In order to be adults, one has to make a five-day trek through treacherous territory and survive. Kirk, Spock, Chekov and Uhura are guided by two felines through the walk. They encounter numerous obstacles along the way in the effort to discover a cure to take back.

All the regulars of the Enterprise crew are present for this romp, with a few new characters. I thought the regulars were written well and recognized their voice in the text. The feline characters were a different culture and were well developed as the story unfolds, but I felt the author might have dwelt too much on them and their culture.

One character that helped the story move forward was Dr. Evan Wilson. She took over as chief medical officer when McCoy was left behind to search for a cure to the disease. She has a great sense of humor and enjoyed perplexing Spock; they shared a light-hearted relationship where Spock usually got the short end of the stick. Her scenes with Kirk were also funny and helped with the pacing of the story. There were several moments where the author seemed to hint at a romantic relationship between her and Kirk, but thank goodness, it didn't get that far. It would have been the point at which I would have not read on to the end. Dr. Wilson is also a mysterious character. No one seems to know where she comes from, and it is never really explained to my satisfaction who or what she actually is.

With the title, Uhura's Song, I was expecting a story centering on Nyota Uhura. It didn't happen - it was all about Kirk, Spock, and Wilson (taking the place of McCoy). I found the title misleading causing me even more disappointment.

I had difficulty understanding exactly what the plot of the story was. At the beginning, the disease seemed to be the main plot of the book, but as I read on, that appeared to become a subplot. Then the main plot of the book became the culture of the feline race and their interactions. It was a little confusing, and I found myself wanting to tell the author to find a point and make it. There wasn't anything that stood out to me as a main plot as I meandered through this.

If there was an intended dominant theme, it was also lost on me. Is it about people helping others with a difficult situation? Is it a first contact story? Or is it a coming-of-age story? Perhaps I missed the point altogether.

Uhura's Song was a book I neither hated nor loved. It didn't hold my attention, and I had a hard time getting through the entire story. I felt it was too long and had too many details. I felt the title didn't represent the story well and was looking for a story featuring Uhura, but she was more of a side note. If you are a reader that enjoys stories that has some good world-building, this one has it. If you like cultural first contact stories, this is the one for you. If you enjoy a good solid Trek story, the premise is good, but the execution is lacking.

Writing is hard. Please don't misunderstand and think I am trashing the author. Kagan was a brilliant writer. There is a lot of positive in this book, and one cannot argue against an author who wins Hugo awards for her writing. This one just didn't excite me as much as I hoped.

                                    Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Janet Kagan (1946-2008) was an American author. Her works include two science fiction novels and two science fiction collections, plus numerous science fiction and fantasy short stories that appeared in publications such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Asimov's Science Fiction.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!