I don't know a lot about the plot of this book as it has been quite a while since I last read it. But I do now that it was set in the space age, where everybody could travel between planets. It also had something to do with searching an mysterious, indescribable color (the 8th?).

There were aliens that were not able to perceive color who maintained the spaceships. A characteristic I can quite clearly remember is that these aliens (called lhari/laari?) would often get burned when they picked up a glowing tool, as the couldn't see it glowing.

At some point the protagonist undergoes a surgery to look like these aliens to do something they wouldn't allow humans to do. Maybe travel somewhere or spy on them?

I read it maybe 4 years ago, but it was an old book I picked up at a garage sale. I cannot name a specific time when it was written, but my best guess would be 1970-1980.

If I happen to remember more things, I will make sure to edit this question.

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    Terry Pratchett's Discworld series features an eighth, magical color called "octarine" that only wizards can see. But it's not sci-fi at all, so I doubt it's what you're after. – zeldredge Jun 5 '15 at 14:53
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    The indescribable colour sounds like H. P. Lovecraft’s classic story The Colour Out of Space, which is well worth a read. Another author did write a sequel novel, but neither that nor the original feature spaceships. – Paul D. Waite Jun 5 '15 at 15:15
  • Just conceivably, it might be Lloyd Biggle, Jr., All the Colors of Darkness (1963), but I've completely forgotten the plot, and the few plot summaries that I can find online don't sound very much like what you're looking for. – user46249 Jun 5 '15 at 18:10

This is The Colors of Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The aliens are indeed called the Lhari, but they only see in monochrome so they can't see any colour (inclduing the eighth).

The book is about the quest for an FTL drive that the Lhari have discovered but are keeping secret. The main character is a young chap called Bart Steele. The eighth colour is a fuel for the FTL drive, or connected to the FTL drive in some fashion that currently escapes me.

I didn't think the book would be out of copyright yet, but it's available on the Project Gutenberg web site, so I guess it must be.

  • Awesome, thanks a bunch! – Lars Jun 6 '15 at 10:28
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    It was published in 1963; works published before 1964 needed to have their copyright renewed or else it would only hold for 28 years. Most publishers did the renewal as a routine matter but some books fell through the cracks. – user56 Jun 6 '15 at 23:19

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