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. Mimi

    Mimi Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    Interestiinggg... /fingertent
     
  2. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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

    I haven't recognized any overt references to Chaye or to the events of "Things Past," but I've been aware that President Ishan shares a surname with the victim in Odo's memory in that episode since shortly after it came out. Someone on the BBS posted it. It DOES present some interesting possibilities, if Anjar and Chaye are related....
     
  3. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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

    Who knows..."Ishan" could be Bajoran for "Jones" or "Smith". :D
     
  4. Raisor

    Raisor Ensign Red Shirt

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

    It's late, I haven't read a single post in this thread, so this will be brief.

    Read the whole novel in one sitting today. Loved it.

    I want a Star Trek: Cardasia weekly crime procedural tv show. Yesterday.

    10/10
     
  5. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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

    Whether related to that Ishan or not, there were probably many related Ishans brutalised or killed unjustly during the Occupation. Given how frosty the President was when Picard misstepped during their initial conversation.
     
  6. Mimi

    Mimi Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    Yess. I really hope we see more Cardassia based stories. The way McCormack has written them, they have so much world building that they could definitely sustain a mini-series.
     
  7. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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

    Which is, in fact, one of the greatest books of the 20th century.

    From what I gathered, Garak's interpretation of Meditations on a Crimson Shadow is meant to be rather similar to some readings of the book.
     
  8. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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

    I haven't finished Brinkmanship yet, so I can't judge based of off this, but based off of her other Cardassian heavy books, I wouldn't be against Una McCormack writing a regular series based entirely on Cardassia, or at least focused on Cardassian characters.
     
  9. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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

    Just popped through the letterbox this morning.

    Really rather enjoyed it. Finishes the journey of A Stitch in Time and The Lotus Flower, and it has been an enjoyable ride all the way through. Best trek book in some years.

    All the serious stuff has already been said, but "Sisko would've" cracked me up, and I liked the kid doing the memory test at the end(reminded me of Psych, though I imagine the origin is older).
     
  10. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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

    Personally, I disagree with those who found this better than Revelation and Dust, and preferred the first book. While I warmed up to it once it became obvious that
    Garak was alive, and destined to become castellan
    I felt like I was wading through an awful lot of <impolite but non-obscene metaphor> to get there.

    We get dragged through enough political <same metaphor> in real life. Why can't Star Trek get back to Roddenberry's "Wagon Train to the Stars"/"Hornblower in Space" concept? (Not that there hasn't been plenty of truly bad ST within that concept; consider that period, near the end of the Bantam era, when literally every other book was a rehash of the "Enterprise crew gets roughed up by the superbeing running some seemingly primitive society" premise that had already spawned more bad ST scripts than good ones.)
     
  11. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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

    But doesn't the realpolitik and grimness of a Cardassia novel set after the genocide of its people in DS9 properly follow on from the depiction of it in TNG and DS9? And was there not a lot of discovery in the book, as more of this particular world, is built? The red rain, the art and architecture, the attitudes of these peoples? And also is not Crimson Shadow a more positive novel than something just playing with 'political [crap?]' for politic's sake, about the potential for hope and growth in politcal change?
     
  12. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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

    Eventually, it did develop into something a great deal more positive, which is why I gave it an "average" rating. If there had been nothing to relieve the grimness, I would have probably given it its first "poor" rating.

    I really felt that DS9 on TV went downhill when it just kept dwelling endlessly upon the Dominion War, just as I felt that ENT went downhill when it spent a whole season on the Xindi War. I liked VOY precisely because it managed, despite being defined by a series-length story arc of finding a way home, it managed to tell a lot of different stories (including one mind-bender that left the audience wondering how many episodes actually involved the real Voyager, and how many involved its "silver blood" duplicate). (Of course, it didn't exactly hurt that I'd liked Kate Mulgrew all the way back to Mrs. Columbo, even if that show failed so badly that its Columbo canonical status was quickly and decisively deprecated, even before the show itself was canceled, but that's neither here nor there.)

    I'm still wondering who or what experiences the series-titular "fall" here.
     
  13. Mimi

    Mimi Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    I don't know. To me, you can't get much more of a positive novel than this. Cardassia is not the federation. It has never operated as the federation has. For most of TV trek, Cardassia was a malevolent force. To depict it as anything else would be disingenuous. Even Garak, for all the good that he did do, did plenty more bad in his day.

    Now, here we are, about a decade or so later. What was once an enemy has become an ally, an ally that is slowly improving its society. Garak has gone from an anti-hero to a hero. Sure, there's still the threat that it could all go wrong...but there are good people, willing to hold the country together long enough for it to keep limping on. To become something greater. Has any other race in trek gone through such a dramatic change?

    The 'grimness' of Cardassia and other places only exists to show how much good has been done, and can be done. I know it becomes a matter of opinion in regards to DS9 trek, and the trek of the rest of the series. But to me, the utopian style of trek feels false without a counterpoint. It feels alien and sterile. Places like Cardassia make it important to keep fighting for.
     
  14. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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

    Whilst I utterly disagree about DS9's direction and Voyager's episodic adventure stories, I understand what you want from Trek. It is not the Trek I especially loved, or love, outwith some of TOS and TNG. I think an issue (for you) is that Trek lit has taken its cue, visually, thematically and allusively, from a number of factors that are oppositional to a humanist 'wagon trail' narrative. These include

    (i) the serialisation and darkening of television and other media that occurred from the late 90s onwards, with the anti-hero and dirty politics as king (beginning with shows like Oz and Six Feet Under, after the trials in early Homicide and NYPD Blue in the 90s - my idea coming from the thesis argued excellently in Alan Sepinwall's The Revolution was Televised. He does indeed discuss Trek in it, in the BSG chapter)
    (ii) the longerstanding 'grimness' (to use your word) of wider literature and genre fiction of the past few decades that surely influenced our writers (and indeed centuries, given the debts in, for example, McCormack to twentieth and nineteenth century literary novels such as Le Carre, Tolstoy, Pasternak, etc)),
    (iii) and finally history (again relevant for McCormack's Cardassian novels, Europe's totalitarian states, the WW2 and 1990s genocides, the post-war poverty and restoration projects in central and eastern Europe, cold wars) and recent events (9/11 is one event, but there are many depressing events which have have been discussed in trek lit, and have been done well!).
     
  15. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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

    Damn, you sure got that right.

    Television, over the past decade or so, has been more of a monument to Kitman's Law ("Pure drivel tends to drive from the television screen ordinary drivel") than ever, and about all I watch any more are Jeopardy, Food Network, and DVDs of series like Quincy, Father Dowling, Mork & Mindy, Get Smart, and of course, ST:TNG. Current sitcoms like The Middle, Modern Family, and The Neighbors are barely tolerable.

    I never understood the appeal of Seinfeld (its self-description as "a show about nothing" made perfect sense, and unlike the casts of any of the series mentioned in the previous paragraph, I found nothing appealing about any of the characters), and the one time I was exposed to Curb Your Enthusiasm, I had none to curb.

    Classical Star Trek's message has always been that we can make a brighter future, simply by learning the difference between enlightened self-interest and base greed, and by evolving beyond what I call "classical meanness," that which measures one's comfort in terms of the discomfort of others, one's success in terms of the failure of others, one's religious "salvation" in terms of how many others are destined for eternal damnation, and one's charity in terms of the number of people who will be forever dependent upon it, rather than upon the number of people who become independent because of it.

    Conversely, the message of most current television seems to be that the world is going to Hell, and there's nothing we can do to stop it, so you may as well live down to your lowest impulses. And Abramsverse ST doesn't seem a whole lot brighter.

    And tying in another thread that linked to a "spoiler" about a back-cover blurb,
    I like the idea that in the finale of The Fall, the Andorians solve their fertility crisis, recognize that they made a mistake in leaving the Federation, and want back in. The only question there is how well Dayton Ward can handle it, and I have little doubt that the answer is going to be somewhere in the range from "reasonably well" to "superbly well."
     
  16. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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

    Well, I must admit, I am a child of this recent generation: I grew up with the increased darknening (the neo-classical meanness, if you will *). It was Homicide, Oz, Six Feet Under, Farscape, DS9 and later (when I was a teenager) Arrested Development, The Wire, Deadwood and BSG which formed my television preferences. Of course these can be depressing shows and have extremely chilling ideas and negative characters ... but that was what I wanted: not the naive escapism of what I saw as inferior fiction, but confrontation with the failure you identified. We don't always make the right choices. Sepinwall in his book makes good comparative analysis of HBO's 'pantheon' (as he terms it) - that actually David Milch's Deadwood was fundamentally optimistic (about the formation of the States as a place of opportunity, however much it was mired in genocide, militarism, greed and failure), compared to the nihilism that David Simon puts forth in The Wire or Tom Fontona in Oz. And whilst Trek Lit conveys much in the language of this epoque, it has that optimism of Deadwood (if not the beautiful and baroque language), rather than the total nihilism of Simon or Fontana. I think, returning to this thread, that The Crinsom Shadow encapsulates the nuance of the former concept - a nuanced view that owes also much to its literary antecedents, which are a lot older than the past 16 years of television, and just as morally complex and divergent as the television shows you associate with the current (almost unwatchable) era.

    *I'm curious where your 'classical' coming from? From Antiquity? From the Renaissance and something like Machiavelli or Aretino? The religiousity 'reformist' (not Reformed, but the more selective orientation of a more purist reformed movement)? From neoclassical era vibes (the Revolutions of the 18th century, the Victorian grimness, or Romantic dark heroes/antiheroes of the early nineteenth century?) It's an odd question to pose, but in my discipline 'classical' is a charged word and I'm curious as to your sources. :D
     
  17. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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

    With respect to "classical Star Trek," it's simply a term of convenience here: TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT, and most ST literature, with an emphasis on TOS, TNG, VOY, early DS9, and the first, second, and fourth seasons of ENT, and ST literature from before the "Borg Apocalypse," and specifically excluding the Abramsverse. "Canonical" doesn't apply, since the Abramsverse is considered canonical, and ST literature is not.

    With respect to "classical meanness," it is once again a term of convenience: "meanness" in its original sense of extreme, self-defeating stinginess, rather than in the sense of general malice and disagreeability that has become far more common today.

    Also, note (going back to classical Star Trek) that the Classical period in music, in its strict definition (i.e., the period between the Baroque and the Romantic, that began with Bach's children, ended with Beethoven's early works, and was dominated by Haydn and Mozart) was a period in which music was highly ordered, and approached with considerable restraint, at least compared to the extremes of ornamentation heard in the Baroque period, and the extremes of espressivo heard in the Romantic period.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  18. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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

    Nice answers, thank you. And it is interesting to note, since alas I never knew this (although I should have expected it) that the Classical period of music matches, by your defining features of order and compositional restraint, the general classicising character of 18th century visual culture too.
     
  19. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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

    That's where the term comes from. Except that the classical period in music began around a third of the way into the 18th century, and ran into the early 19th century (I would put Beethoven's 5th right on the cusp of the classical/romantic divide, as it is in many ways both and yet neither.)
     
  20. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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

    Thanks. In Visual culture there is no actual 'classical' period, merely recurrent neo-classical or classicising 'movements', from Antiquity to the Middle Ages to the Renaissance to the Baroque to the Neo-classical era (whose dating matches the Classical musical period) to minimalism.