Captain Uhura

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Title: Captain Uhura
Publisher: Mpingo Press
Author(s): Winston A. Howlett and others
Cover Artist(s): Gee Moaven (front) Carol Walske (back)
Date(s): February 1979
Series?: yes
Medium: print
Genre: gen
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links:
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Captain Uhura was published in February 1979 and is 106 pages long. It is a Probe Special Issue.

front cover of Captain Uhura Special issue #2, Gee Moaven
back cover of Captain Uhura Special issue #2, Carol Walske

The first print run was 300.

It is an "episodic novel" and contains interrelated stories by: Ingrid Cross, Winston Howlett, Fern Marder, Frances Zawacky. Individual stories are not credited to particular authors. The zine was edited by Fern Marder and Carol Walske. The front cover is by Gee Moaven and the backcover by Carol Walske. Other art by Sharon Elzay, Doug Herring, Winston Howlett, Mei-Moi Lee, Leonard Lipton, Fern Marder, P.S. Nim, Paul Rivoche, Carol Walske, and Gee Moaven.

The Swahili Series

There are three Probe Special Issues:

From the Editorial

Captain Uhura, the sequel to 'Goddess Uhura,' premiered exactly three years ago this month at the last of the New York Star Trek conventions to be hosted by the original Star Trek Con Committee. We sold eighty-five copies of Goddess during the last four days of that con [which is where it was collated], which in those days, was a very big deal. We found ourselves going into a second 200-copy printing within four months. The seeds for a sequel to Goddess were planted in my brain sometime during this 'boom period,' but did not stir to life until the BiCentennial-Ten Con (New York, September 1976), when I saw the Trek paintings of Paul Rivoche. The two reprinted here inspired 'Nova Gang,' plus the idea of Uhura attaining Captaincy of a dreadnought. Other vague ideas for short stories began to crystalize and fall into line behind 'Nova Gang,' and soon the idea for an episodic novel was born. However, I had no idea it would be a very loooong two and a half years before 'Captain Uhura' would be finished.


  • Starline by Winston A. Howlett, p. 2 (editorial)
  • Editor's Preface by Fern Marder & Carol Walske, p. 3
  • Uhura, poem by Ingrid Cross (reprinted from Fesarius #2)
  • The Nova Gang, p. 7-28
  • Interlude: Quit Your Wining, p. 29-34
  • A Garden in Hell, p. 35-52
  • Conversations, p. 53-57
  • Interlude: Conversations (53)
  • The Return of the Defiant, p. 59-79
  • Interlude: Night Games, p. 80-82
  • Days of Judgment, p. 83-103
  • Freedom, poem by Fern Marder


The Rocky Road to Publication

The editor issued several personal statements that explain some of the troubles this zine has been:


This issue [[[Probe]] #12] has no advertisement for CAPTAIN UHURA because of several reasons.

1 -- Lately our readers have been getting tired of seeing "Coming Soon..." ads, and have started getting impatient.
2 -- A lot of personal upheavals in the past few months [1] have delayed CAPTAIN UHURA, to a point where even I am asking when it will finally see the light of day.
3 -- Even if CU were finished and on its way to the printers, we would need 200 orders sent to us, in order to pay the bill. And even though almost 400 copies of GODDESS UHURA have been sold, and we have been advertising CAPTAIN for over a year, we have received only 123 SASEs.
Work on the novel will resume shortly. But the source of funding this operation is in the hands of the readers. [2]

Mpingo Press and I have both been going through a lot of problems lately. 'Captain Uhura' was finally completed and delivered to the printers at 2 AM on the first morning of Space Expo (FebCon '79). Reaching that deadline cost all of Mpingo Press' resources and all of my personal savings. On top of that, [attending] the convention was a financial disaster for both me and the press, followed by [details of personal problems redacted]. The pre-ordered copies of 'Captain Uhura' and present orders of MP zines will be mailed as soon as I have the resources with which to do so. I thank all of Mpingo Press' customers for their patience up to this point. [3]

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

This is a set of interrelated stories focussing on Commander Uhura's adventures serving with Captain Rendovi as first officer of the dreadnought Dominion. (None of the other TOS characters appear except Kirk, briefly.) It takes place within a Starfleet that refuses to allow women to captain starships, and the unifying storyline is that of a conspiracy working - unbeknownst to our heroine - to force Starfleet to give her command of the Dominion. Though I did not care for the conspiracy plotline, the stories remain enjoyable...
  • The Nova Gang, Dominion is sent to assist in evacuation of a planet whose star has suddenly begun to go nova. Amid the chaos and earthquakes, Uhura must find and retrieve a mysterious VIP - a good-guy Klingon scientist, it turns out, who has invented a nova-maker while attempting to come up with a nova-preventative. Nice little adventure tale.
  • Quit Your Wining, Romp. Engineers have set up a still that gets out of hand.
  • A Garden in Hell, A collector has illegally included a sentient plant in his vast garden, with exciting consequences for Uhura and her captain when it goes stir-crazy and decides on revenge.
  • Conversations, Captain Rendovi is behaving oddly, zoning out from time to time, and no one can do anything about removing him from command because CMO Susan Heath refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong with him.
  • The Return of the Defiant, The Defiant - the ship caught in interphase space in "The Tholian Web" - has been taken over by disaffected Starfleet folks, including captain Linda Norcross, denied her first best destiny because of the policy of not assigning women to command starships. She proves her abilities by becoming a very effective pirate, having found a way to control Defiant's interphase jumping. Captain Rendovi becomes catatonic during the crisis and Uhura becomes acting captain, outwitting the pirates.
  • Night Games, Pillow-talk between Commodore Sharon Tremayne and a high-ranking lover, as she lobbies for Uhura's being given command of the Dominion.
  • Days of Judgment, Testimonies reveal that Commodore Tremayne, Doctor Heath and others have conspired to use Captain Rendovi's condition to place Uhura in command during a crisis, in order to prove their point about women in command. The higher ups now wish to withdraw Uhura's promotion to command because of the scandal; she refuses to play ball. Her long-awaited dream of starship command comes true in a well of loneliness. [4]


Howlett is one of the best portrayers of strong, authentic women characters in fan fiction, and here he continues he epic of the rise of Communications Officer Uhura to captain of her own ship, in a series of episodes showing her coping with command problems with intelligence, control, courage, and wry humor. In the best, and initial, episode, she has charge of a landing party, rescuing the inhabitants of a planet doomed to incineration, and searching for a mysterious V.I.P. who turns out to be more dangerous than the approaching nova. In other tales, she falls literally 'into the drink,' is pursued by some very unparadisical inhabitants of 'Eden.' and fights the seeming ghost of the lost Defiant. The stories are taut and fast moving, the prose lean and professional. Uhura's portrayal is excellent; only when the writer gets involved in an examination of woman's inequalities does his protagonist begin to lose her three dimensions and sometimes moves like a puppet in the interests of protesting male domination. But it's a minor caveat, and one which may seem a virtue to the women equally enthused on liberation. It's definitely the best zine I've seen this year, beautifully printed in large type, excellently illustrated, and modestly priced. Definitely recommended to everyone! [5]

An episodic novel... unreduced offset, beautifully laid out... heavy cover and staples, uses pages of two different weights and colors.

This zine consists of four long stories and three interludes, detailing what happens to Uhura after she is given the chance to return to Star Fleet Academy to enter the command track, graduating as First Officer on a dreadnought. How her career progresses and why form the interwoven narrative that ties the whole zine into a novella. As a woman this zine made me very angry both times I read it, with its condescending assumption that 200 years from now women will still have to sleep around to buy career favors from all-powerful males — but I had to keep reminding myself that everything in the 60's episodes lends credence to this expectation. But a woman killing herself with her sharp fingernails? Come now! Active women do not wear claws, can't afford to. In neither of these cases is the woman Uhura, fortunately, but she is closely involved in both. Actually Uhura does not achieve captaincy until the last couple of pages of the story, and all her promotions come about through the good offices of a close woman friend up the chain of command, whom she betrays callously towards the end.

I won't say this zine is 100% anti-feminist, but do believe enjoyment or irritation depends on the gender of the reader. Considering his previous admiration for the character, I must say I am mildly surprised to find any Uhura-story from Mr. Howlett taking this form. [6]


  1. ^ may be reference to the reactions to Open Letter by Winston A. Howlett Regarding His Review of "Alternative: Epilog to Orion"
  2. ^ from the February 1978 issue of Probe
  3. ^ from a personal statement in Scuttlebutt #13 (May/June 1979)
  4. ^ from Halliday's Zinedex (mostly offline)
  5. ^ from Scuttlebutt #16
  6. ^ review by Dixie G. Owen in The Clipper Trade Ship #26