Spoilers TF: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack Review Thread

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

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Rate The Crimson Shadow.

  1. Outstanding

    79 vote(s)
    68.1%
  2. Above Average

    29 vote(s)
    25.0%
  3. Average

    6 vote(s)
    5.2%
  4. Below Average

    2 vote(s)
    1.7%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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    I think the text is somewhat vague on the question, but, to me, anyway, it's still very obvious that Garak and Parmak are in "a relationship." I readily grant that this is a subjective conclusion, but it is not one I arrive at arbitrarily.

    The banter of their conversation throughout the book, but particularly during their dinner with Picard and Crusher; Garak's describing Parmak as his conscience; their games of kotra with kanar before bed; the very strong implication that they live together; the degree to which they are both clearly overcome with emotion upon their reunion after Garak's "death"; the intimacy of their conversation at the very end of the book, with Parmak preemptively forgiving Garak.

    They clearly have a very close relationship. And Garak is explicitly stated to "love" Parmak.

    So, are they "in a relationship"? Are they "involved"?

    To answer that, we need to examine the ways that we normally conclude that fictional characters are in a relationship. I will address each one in the context of this story.

    1) We are told they are married. As far as I can tell, we have very little evidence about how Cardassians consummate relationships, especially outside of the old aristocracy. Certainly in post-war Cardassia, with all its societal upheaval, it would not be surprising if an old institution like marriage were on its way out. So this approach may not have been an option for McCormack, given in-universe constraints.

    2) We are told they are having sex. Garak and Parmak are old, at least in the sense that they aren't young. From what I can tell, sex is an important part of relationships between older people, but it's often not the most important thing, the way it can be for young couples. Sex may not be the most meaningful way Garak and Parmak have to be intimate (assuming they are a couple); that's certainly consistent with the characters. Furthermore, discussing Garak's sex life would, I think, have felt out of style for the novel that McCormack was crafting. So this approach was also not an option for McCormack.

    3) They refer to each other as lovers. Garak would never do this so bluntly, so, again, another option removed for McCormack. (Although, I think it is notable that Garak refers to Parmak as his dear friend [or whatever it is he precisely says]– that may be as explicit as Garak could believably get.)

    4) Others refer to them as lovers. This would never happen in this story. Any character doing so would be gossiping in a way that none of those people in a position to know would. Furthermore, because of the constraints of the story and its characters, only a few people would know about Garak and Parmak anyway.

    5) The characters in question are shown behaving as a couple does, doing the things that couples are recognizable for doing. In my opinion, this is what McCormack does with Garak and Parmak, in the examples I noted above and in the quotes which Jarvisimo provided.

    Then there is the whole issue of what it actually means to be involved with someone, both in the real world and in a fictional narrative. Do you have to be having sex? Do you have to be married? Do you have to be in love?

    These are very big questions. For my money, I think what we see, what we are explicitly told, of Garak and Parmak's relationship is consistent with a description of two people who are involved. But that's, in part, due to my personal conception of what such a couple looks like, how they behave, so it can be hard to justify, without writing a dissertation, anyway.

    For various reasons, I think McCormack would have had a hard time stating more explicitly that Garak and Parmak were in a relationship in a way that didn't inappropriately break the fourth wall. However, I also think that she provides plenty of evidence to make it clear that Garak and Parmak are, in fact, "in a relationship."
     
  2. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Captain Captain

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    The "hiding it for political reasons" angle was indeed part of a couple of edits I had to revert, so that's certainly at least some anonymous editor's reasoning for why the book didn't just "come out and say it." Which, of course, is complete BS.

    I could see two reasons for Garak being secretive about a hypothetical relationship (with anyone, of any gender). The first is out of a desire to protect his partner from his enemies, the second would be simply because it's not anyone's business and while he's much more truthful now, he still won't voluntarily shine the spotlight on his personal life.

    But given that The Crimson Shadow presents us with a lesbian couple whose relationship no Cardassian seems to think twice about, I doubt "hiding a homosexual lover for political reasons" would be anywhere in Garak or Una McCormack's thought process.
     
  3. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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    I agree with Paper Moon, but I don't want to force an issue that has no overt statement. I also hope the edits on the Garak article I've made suggest the intimacy of their relationship without making a blunt statement about it.
     
  4. lvsxy808

    lvsxy808 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have an image of Una rubbing her hands together in glee at this discussion, thinking "It worked! It worked!"

    Personally I'm on the side of "a very close relationship of support and affection and dedication, but not necessarily romantic or sexual as we would understand it." But as I said earlier, I'm perfectly happy to let the ambiguity stand. If they are romantic, that's lovely. If they're just two older men growing comfortable with each other as they age, that's fine too.

    .
     
  5. Mimi

    Mimi Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Clearly, we're going to need another Garak book! Just so we are certain.

    [plzmoregarakbook].
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
  6. Una McCormack

    Una McCormack Writer Red Shirt

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    [​IMG]
     
  7. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    Well played.
     
  8. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Now all we need are the minions.
     
  9. Mimi

    Mimi Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    This is beautiful, our work here is done.

    Somewhere, the wiki war rages.
     
  10. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Excellent novel I really liked this story dealing with aftermath of Bacco's assination and uncovering the people responsible for the crime.:techman:This book was an excellent scifi/ mystery novel.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  11. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Captain Captain

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    :wtf: I was unaware that Nan was having a secret liaison. Was it with Akaar? Or maybe that's who Garak was in love with...

    :vulcan:
     
  12. Mimi

    Mimi Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    If Nan/Garak was a thing, I think sarcasm levels would hit critical mass.
     
  13. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Here you go. ;)
     
  14. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No nan Bacco didn't have that kind of relationship with Garak sorry I meant I liked the storyline of Picard and Garak investigated the cardassians who were responsible for having her killed off and didn't want to be apart of the khitomer accords.
     
  15. summerinohio

    summerinohio Cadet Newbie

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    Can I read this one without reading Revelation and Dust?
     
  16. Mimi

    Mimi Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes, you can. It will spoil one major plot development of Revelation and Dust though. Otherwise they are unconnected.
     
  17. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    One question I have what is the name of the book Picard gives Garak at the end of the Crimson Shadow?
     
  18. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  19. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Defcon Thanks for answering my question that Picard novel gave Gark sounds like something Garak would like to read It sounds a lot like the Cardassian novel The Crimson shadow.
     
  20. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    To get the most enjoyment out of all of The Fall books, you are best to read them in order. You can read out of order if you don't mind spoiling the mini-series for yourself.