TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Sep 17, 2013.

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Rate The Crimson Shadow.

  1. Outstanding

    76 vote(s)
    67.3%
  2. Above Average

    29 vote(s)
    25.7%
  3. Average

    6 vote(s)
    5.3%
  4. Below Average

    2 vote(s)
    1.8%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    That was, to me, the entire point of the novel. That, although you are completely right in itself, reality has shown that hiding several things from 'the people' is sometimes neccesary.
    I love that line from Men In Black. "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."
    Sadly, that is the truth. Revealing everything would cause a stampede. Across Cardassia, because Cardassians killed the President. Across Bajor, because Cardassians tried to frame the Bajorans for the murder. Across the Federation, because people would demand justice and cut ties with Cardassia, a ally they really need.
    Not just that, if all was revealed, if there is indeed more going on that we've learned sofar, it would force the (perhaps) true assisins to move their plans forward. Atleast now, there is something of a calm situation, from which those looking to seek the truth, can actually find it and use it.

    You talk of studying history. History has shown, that sometimes ugly situations are neccesary to achieve what is right. The world isn't black and white. It could be, maybe, one day. But like you said, there are those who seek power and are willing to use whatever is neccesary to get it. So there must also be those who are willing to do ugly things to stop them. All the wrong things for all the right reasons I guess.

    Do I like that? No. But I've accepted that for now, this is the world I live in, with hope that others share my feeling that a better can be made. That way, we can erradicate all those warmongers in the world be showing them a better example, untill one day those tyrants won't excist anymore.
    Is that a fallacy? Probably.

    And as for Garak being a great choice to lead the Union? He might have done all these horrible things in the past, but his love for Cardassia and its people is true. Right now, his heart and his mind are all in the right place, and he vows to seek something that is actually better for the Union. Themet only seeks to bring back a disgusting and nasty version of the Union that might have been somewhat stronger, but was also a horrible place for Cardassians to life in, and it would make the Union an enemy of all those around it.
    So tell me, even if you knew that Garak's past was so horrible, if his future is the best for Cardassia, whilst Themet's is so horrible, even though his past might be clean(er), the choice is simple.
     
  2. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    It's also noteworthy that this was not a plan that was authorized by the Cardassian governent. Castellan Garan learned of the plot only after the fact, and no legitimate Cardassian authority or political party was involved. What would happen would wreck the substantial progress Cardassia made, at considerable cost to everyone involved.

    It's clearly a dangerous time for Garak, who to his credit knows this and has surrounded himself with people who--hopefully--will keep him from indulging his worst instincts.

    I'm also unsure that even if Temet was elected, he'd be capable of restoring the pre-Dukat Union. Cardassia has changed hugely, and the sort of police repression that would be necessary might not be something that the Union could survive. Cardassia Prime is doing better than Deneva, sure, but it came close ...

    Temet almost certainly did make use of a comfort woman.
     
  3. SolidusRaccoon

    SolidusRaccoon Ensign Red Shirt

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Mage and I think the cover up would do more damage than that actually assassination. If someone else knows, if some else leaks the info the fallout would be much worse. Once it is known that both Starfleet and the Cardassian government hid the truth, all heck would break loose.

    And I think Themet was just a poorly done caricature by Miss. McCormack. I waiting for him to twirl his mustache and tie a widow to train tracks. And the most interesting thing was that Cardassia First actually had some very valid concerns.

    The government signing a secret agreement with the Federation, which the people can not see until after it has been signed.

    Cardassia allowing the Federation to dictate policy. Even though the war is long over, a new government is in charge, and Cardassia is an ally of the Federation. I don't think the US is still telling Germany, Japan, and Italy how to run things.
     
  4. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    I think you misunderstood me. I don't think the cover-up is more damaging. I actually think that covering it up is, even though certainly not a good thing, it is the lesser of two evils.
     
  5. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    I'd distinguish the sort of temporary coverup here, where the people passively involved are resigning and others are being investigated and arrested and the factions involved are being dealt with, from a more thorough and intended-to-be-enduring coverup aimed at repressing public knowledge and otherwise not changing the status quo too much.

    Why was he a poorly-done caricature? His rhetoric and actions--supporting a militarily-powerful Cardassia, denigrating the Bajorans as violent ingrates, making use of sex slaves, et cetera--do fit squarely with past depictions of the behaviour of members of the Cardassian military.

    Italy's no longer under close supervision by the United States, no. That's at least partly a consequence of the need in the early Cold War to prevent Italy from going Communist, or neutralist.

    Japan, however, was kept under very tight control for decades. It still keeps its American-imposed constitution limiting defense spending to 1% of GDP.

    As for Germany, both German states were kept under very tight control after 1949. East Germany was a Soviet puppet state, consistently ruled by hard-liners closely aligned to conservative factions in the Soviet Union proper unlike virtually every other Soviet satellite state. West Germany ended up acquiring much more autonomy, but even its revival was geared towards enabling European and North Atlantic solidarity. (The West German military was geared entirely towards supporting NATO plans on the northern European plain, West Germany supported plans for European integration to demonstrate its trustworthiness and escape its immediate past, et cetera.) Germany only became a fully sovereign state in 1990 upon reunification.

    The Cardassian Union was many things, many of them good, many of them quite evil. The maintenance of a totalitarian state with a frightening secret police, the aggressive conquest of neighbouring worlds, the mass enslavement of subject populations (including sex slavery), and biological experimentation upon captives all featured. It wouldn't be unfair to the Union to say that, in many ways, its behaviour paralleled that of Nazi Germany.

    As if this wasn't bad enough, the brief period of civilian government was followed by the initially very popular rule of Gul Dukat, a man responsible for committing multiple atrocities against Bajorans and committed to a campaign of military conquest against all of Cardassia's neighbours. This war--which, in the novels, is shown as including medical experimentation committed against Federation citizens on Betazed--ended with Cardassia's allies turning against it and committing genocide on a wide scale against the Cardassians. The Union after the Dominion War must look a lot like Germany after the Second World War, a physically and morally devastated polity.

    It seems pretty clear to me that the Federation would want to keep an extended presence in the Cardassian Union for some time, and some guarantees that a newly-democratic Cardassia is going to behave properly in the future. By the same standards, it also seems plausible to me that other Alpha/Beta Quadrant powers like the Klingons and the Romulans would acquiesce in this. It also seems plausible to me that a revived Cardassian government inclined towards democracy might not want to have unfettered sovereignty, at least not while it's rebuilding.
     
  6. star trek

    star trek Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    I gave it an outstanding review.

    Unlike the first book in the Fall series this one didn't disappoint. It's very well written, sharp and crisp. The dialog is interesting, believable and the characters feel fully rounded.
     
  7. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Those have been persistent themes in the Marcokradiverse novels going back to at least A Time to Heal.
     
  8. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    I voted Outstanding. This was a great book. I liked the focus on Cardassia, and one of my favorite DS9 characters.
     
  9. SolidusRaccoon

    SolidusRaccoon Ensign Red Shirt

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Your favorite character is a planet? Kinda like Mogo?
     
  10. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    You very much did pull this off. But the only problem I encountered is that after I finished reading, I ended up with no idea what to read next. :wtf:

    Very well done and very good. Now if only you can do a follow up to it.
     
  11. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Well, that's the question, isn't it? Setting aside the question of how this will impact Cardassian politics -- because, remember, Ganar resigned because she realized that Starfleet Intelligence would eventually find out she had learned from the CIB that a True Way member may have done it, but failed to alert the Federation government of CIB's suspicions [in part because she did not want to admit that she could not control CIB] -- let's consider things from a Federation-centric perspective.

    Is Starfleet hiding the truth? Setting aside the semantic question of whether or not two people -- Picard and Akaar -- can be said to represent all of Starfleet as an institution... Consider what they know:

    They know the CIB thinks the True Way did it. They know that Garak thinks the True Way did it. They know that Ganar thought the True Way did it, and resigned to avoid the wrath of a Federation government angry that she didn't immediately tell them she thinks a True Way member did it.

    What they don't have is actual evidence that the True Way did it. They have a suspicion -- a suspicion they harbor, in essence, because they trust the judgment of Elim Garak. They have a suspicion that they did not share with the President Pro Tempore in part because of lack of evidence -- which is a reasonable reason -- and in part because they don't trust Ishan to have a reasonable, proportional reaction. They are worried that a disproportionate reaction from Ishan will lead to a sundering of the UFP/CU alliance, and therefore to the Khitomer powers being weakened before the Typhon Pact.

    Now, is that a "cover-up?" I'm not sure. I'd call it a cover-up if they had actual evidence... but they don't. In essence, all they have is the word of Elim Garak.

    By the same token, there's an argument to be made that this sort of suspicion shouldn't be hidden from the civilian leadership just because the military disapproves of them. On the other hand -- you gotta ask yourself if it's responsible to report to the President every conspiracy theory your field men hold -- and Picard is a field man, at the end of the day. I don't know. But I'd be surprised if there weren't suspicions like that held in real life by military officers that aren't reported to their civilian governments for lack of evidence.

    Nothing about Themet struck me as unrealistic. He seemed like a very typical nationalist, of the sort you find in all societies. Nationalists like him thrive on exploiting legitimate concerns for the benefit of their extremist, authoritarian agendas. [E.g., Tea Party fanatics complaining about legit problems with Obamacare, or Golden Dawn in Greece complaining about E.U.-imposed austerity measures.] Heck, Cardassia First was literally named after a real organization [albeit one whose members were mostly more moderate or more liberal than its most famous spokesman].

    I'm sorry, but this complaint is complete bullshit. This is how all treaties in real life are negotiated; you can't hash out agreements between sovereign states in a public committee room, because then nothing can get done.

    What happens from there is, they're signed... and then they have to go to their states' respective legislatures for ratification! And that's when the public gets to review the specific treaty document, and pressure their democratically-elected legislators to either support or oppose the treaty draft, just like any other bill. The treaty is not binding law until -- no, unless -- the democratically-elected legislature ratifies it.

    Meanwhile -- yeah, the exact document wasn't yet available for public view, but the relevant details were all leaked to the public well before the treaty went to the Cardassian Assembly and Federation Council. It's not like this was classified secret -- it was negotiated in private for practical matters, for later public veto or ratification, but it wasn't a state secret that subjected the leakers to potential prosecution.

    And besides -- the negative aspects of the treaty were ones Garak convinced the Feds to change.

    Other posters have already pointed out that the U.S. was running the show in its occupied WW2-era enemies for far longer than the UFP has been dominating Cardassia. Indeed, handing over day-to-day autonomy to a new local democracy just one year after the war [as seen in A Stitch in Time and Cardassia: The Lotus Flower] and restoring full sovereignty only ten years after the war is positively fast-paced compared to the punishment we exacted from Germany.

    But I'd just like to point out that you're kidding yourself if you think the German, Italian, or Japanese governments don't still reply to a U.S. command to jump by asking, "How high?"
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
  12. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Finished it, and on reflection voted Above Average. The book suffers a bit in the plot not being strong, in my opinion, but the characterization is so good it carries the weight nicely.
     
  13. DorkBoy [TM]

    DorkBoy [TM] Captain Captain

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Wow. Great read.

    Easily the best Trek book this year. And Una McCormack's second-best. (Still hard to top "The Never Ending Sacrifice.")

    When I finished this book, I did something I've never done with a Star Trek book before. I flipped back to Page 1 and I started reading it a second time. It was that good. :)

    This one had 2 plot twists that took me completely by surprise. The first was Blok really being Glynn Dygan. The second was Garak's "death" - though that one I kind of wondered about, since it said his car blew up but not that he was inside it.

    Still, for a few chapters I really thought that Garak was dead. (Wonderful thing about the ongoing continuity is the real sense of jeopardy it creates for the characters.)

    Since I am a huuuuge Garak fan I really got a kick out of this one and where he ended up. As usual Ms. McCormack has a wonderful grasp on her Cardassians and Garak in particular.

    Anyhow I gave this one an outstanding. Very nicely done.
     
  14. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Agreed twice. Great stuff.
     
  15. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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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.

    ***

    Don't forget about Martok!

    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.

    Yes please.

    Yes. Easily.

    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.

    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).
     
  16. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Indeed, A Stitch in Time, The Never-Ending Sacrifice, and The Crimson Shadow can almost be seen as a grand trilogy of Cardassia. (Or perhaps one might add in Cardassia: The Lotus Flower and call it a grand quadrilogy of Cardassia.)
     
  17. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Paper moon, thanks for your words about my post, and I must agree with yours almost fully 100% too. Certainly this makes me smile '[t]he novel is arguably the best Trek novel ever published,' although I will reread The Never-Ending Sacrifice and Brinkmanship soon to compare. It is a 'Trek novel' whereas some people sadly might not see NES as such. I think NES was a novel anyone could read - it went beyond Trek conventions to create something more contemporary, more directed to any potential reader, than other Trek books. And it just happened to not read like Trek lit, either. And this style continued from and is developed even more in her other novels, but these are all more 'Trek'. But TCS as you correctly identified developed the tv Trek world sandbox, Robinson's excellent portrayal, and the prior literary (and I do mean literary, as I think you do) work of Una and Andrew Robinson to create something as equally new-feeling as NES (or Brinkmanship) in Treklit conventions, but one more firmly anchored because this is such an intimate knowledge of Robinson's magnificent performance, his playing with subtext and more broad literary conventions. I guess subtext was indeed another theme, even a poetic, in the novel I didn't discuss before. This would be true to Robinson himself - I remember in the DS9 companion his disgust for mirror-Garak's lack of subtext.

    When I have more time it will be good to discuss Una's excellent novel again. I may be rereading it. And continuing to wish I could write like this.
     
  18. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    I'll second that question: WHAT THE #*&$$ WAS THE BOOK PICARD GAVE GARAK?
     
  19. Chris McCarver

    Chris McCarver Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
     
  20. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack - Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Can't decide where I should put this (which thread), but I just realized something.

    Ishan Anjar shares a surname with Ishan Chaye. Coincidence? I think not!

    (Actually, it's very possible that either Una or DRGIII made allusions to this coincidence in either of their novels and I've just forgotten. But still.)
     

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