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Old October 14 2013, 03:02 AM   #155
Paper Moon
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Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

So, like I did in the RaD thread, I'll post my initial thoughts, from before reading the thread first, followed by some responses to what others have said.

***

[written at 5am, immediately after finishing the book]

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! MIND BLOWN!!!!!!

GARAK AS CASTELLAN
GARAK AND PARMAK
GARAK AND PICARD

WORLDBUILDING
NEW CARDASSIA
LITERARY PROSE

GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

***

[written over the course of a few days, as I had time]

Spoilers abound.

The Crimson Shadow is a masterpiece of TrekLit and science fiction. Brinkmanship convinced me that Una McCormack had ascended to the realm of TrekLit writers who could consistently deliver. For my money, The Crimson Shadow has secured her a place among the best TrekLit writers we have, full stop. The novel is arguably the best Trek novel ever published. (Arguably, as in, we’d probably argue. But I do not give such an endorsement lightly.)

I cannot think of a single thing I disliked about this book. Garak is masterfully written. The relationship developed between Garak and Picard is every bit as brilliant as could’ve been imagined. Garak’s cadences and mannerisms are perfect.

But it’s not just that McCormack has given us a carbon copy of the Garak from the show. She has given us a Garak who has grown. Can you imagine the Garak we saw on TV running for public office? No, absolutely not. But McCormack recognized the seeds that were laid throughout the entire series of a Garak who has renounced the old ways; she also recognized the seeds that Andrew J. Robinson himself put into A Stitch In Time, over 10 years ago, that hinted, in the slightest of ways, that Garak was being forced by circumstance into public leadership.

Sometimes, Trek novels that feature one story with familiar characters and another with unfamiliar characters can feel laggy and choppy, with the familiar character story moving along smoothly, and the other getting more bogged down than molasses in winter. Not so here. Garan, Nemeny, Mhevet, Blok, Dekreny, they are all pleasures to read.

The worldbuilding, is, of course, magnificent. The same deftness which McCormack displayed in describing Ab-Tzenketh in Brinkmanship is present in full force here.

All of the Enterprise characters are handled perfectly here. My concerns about McCormack’s handling of Picard in Brinkmanship are totally washed away here, as are my complaints about her inattention to the non-canon characters. (Šmrhová, in particular, shines in this novel.)

I read a large part of this novel in one night. At about 3am, I said to myself, “Alright, I’ll finish this chapter and then go to sleep.” And then Garak’s skimmer blew up. I was skeptical that he really was dead– this is Garak we’re talking about, remember?– but it seemed oh-so-very possible that McCormack was making a point: the situation is so bad that even Garak is not immune. Needless to say, I finished the book that night.

The continued presence of Ziyal in Garak’s life is a stroke of genius whose inclusion pleases me to no end. With the two major resurrections of previously-deceased characters this year, it was nice to see a realistic depiction of how people actually continue to have relationships with loved ones who have passed on.

The last chapter is truly exquisite. For the entire novel, we had been getting hints about Garak and Parmak. And here, we get a reveal that isn’t so much of a reveal as it is an unsarcastic way of saying, “Oh, hadn’t you noticed?” And the way they’re depicted together is so beautiful. The tenderness of an old couple. The forgiving nature of old friends. The dignity of care.

(And the intimacy of Garak confiding his fears about public leadership!)

Bashir’s letter is the perfect way to end the book. It is not a jubilant cry of victory. It is an honest, pleading missive of caution, one which rings true to Bashir’s character. It ties together the entire arc of Elim Garak from “Past Prologue” to The Crimson Shadow in one tidy, elegant letter. Marvelous.

There is so much more I wish to say about this novel, but I shall have to stop here. Outstanding, 10/10, and arguably the best Trek novel ever published.

***

Elias Vaughn in a Mask wrote: View Post
Don't forget about Martok!

DavetheAvatar wrote: View Post
I bet this is what we're gonna see. Though the blurbs suggest that Riker (of all people??) actually knows who is behind it, so I wonder how that will fit in.

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
Great book, do wish we could have an audio book version with Sir Patrick and Andrew Robinson exchanging lines. That would be the only thing that could make it better.
Yes please.

Relayer1 wrote: View Post
Thrawn wrote: View Post
This was GREAT. I'm on a trip and don't have time for a long post, perhaps later, but goddamn this was fantastic. McCormack's best yet.
Better than Never Ending Sacrifice ?
Yes. Easily.

Jarvisimo wrote: View Post
rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Jarvisimo wrote: View Post
the ideas of accents and haircuts, the use of but not focus on the Oralian Way and Paladine's daughter, Kel, the physicality and fondness of Garak and Parmak's relationship, etc.
That was a very close friendship, right, not anything romantic? I read it as the former, though I was delighted to note in passing that Garak was unimpressed by Temet's handsomeness. Canonical novelverse confirmation of Garak being non-heterosexual, if there hadn't been already, right?

This wealth of unlaboured detail reminded one of (and indeed deliberately alluded to) the grandfather Garak/Cardassia text, of course, A Stitch in Time, but far further developed.
It was remarkable.
Regarding Garak and Parmak: I think she intentionally left it a bit ambiguous, but I think their relationship is more romantic than non-romantic. It's interesting, though: Una puts nothing in the text to suggest a sexual relationship between them, which might make you think it's platonic.

But what I got out of it was that their relationship is romantic in the way that two widowers might fall in love late in life. Yes, they are probably having sex at some point, but they're both much too old for it to be the main focus.

Regarding A Stitch in Time: yeah, this is definitely the successor to that work. What a treat for us.

Una McCormack wrote: View Post
Thank you to everyone who has expressed such enthusiasm for the book! I wrote it in a big burst of energetic and riotous joy/passion and I've been so looking forward to seeing what people would make of it. I wanted a fast and exhilarating but not slight read, and it sounds like I've pulled this off. Phew! And thank you again.
You absolutely succeeded. You seemed to take many cues from A Stitch In Time; at the risk of sounding presumptuous, I think you should send a copy of The Crimson Shadow to Mr. Robinson. I bet he'd be floored (in the best way possible).
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