TOS: Cast No Shadow by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Thrawn, Jul 22, 2011.

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Rate Cast No Shadow.

  1. Outstanding

    21 vote(s)
    33.3%
  2. Above Average

    32 vote(s)
    50.8%
  3. Average

    9 vote(s)
    14.3%
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Poor

    1 vote(s)
    1.6%
  1. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    Yep, pretty average.

    I too would've preferred a logical, nonredeemable Valeris to what we got. It might also have made Vaughn's emotional arc stronger; realizing a bit more about the evil he wants to spend his life fighting, rather than just giving him a bunch of difficult situations we as readers know he'll get out of.

    That said, I haven't been as big a fan of Swallow as most; I thought Synthesis was weirdly dark after the conscious return to optimism that Torrent Sea gave us, and I thought Day Of The Vipers was more an 8/10 than the 10/10 people told me to expect. Regardless, I always felt that one thing he was good at was believably portraying damaged people, complex motivations as much from light as from dark (if anything, he was TOO good at that in Synthesis) and so his resorting to cliche here was a little weird, even for me.

    But it had a couple solid surprises, some great action scenes, and the nice Clancy-esque vibe that I feel like Zero Sum Game was aiming for and missed completely. So, not bad. Not great.

    Feels like there could've been a lot of weight here, though, if it had gone somewhere else.
     
  2. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    I was reading Cast No Shadow yesterday and was thrown out of the story by a single line said by Spock. This just seemed out of character for him to say this and it seemed so George W. Bush.

    A weapon of mass destruction was used.

    That line is just so wrong and smacks so much of Bush that there is no way one cannot be help but be dumped from the story.
     
  3. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    That isn't a descriptive turn of phrase, it is literally a classification of weapon, and has been for around 25-30 years. (Right now, in the US at least, in official parlance it means specifically any nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon.) I'm not sure what your problem with it is.
     
  4. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    The problem is that this phrase was use (quite a lot) by the worst president the USA has ever had. This phrase was his catch phrase in order to finish what his father botched. And now it's become associated with him. Also, it doesn't feel like something Spock would say.
     
  5. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    I tend to disagree, JWolf, it's a descriptive phrase used by a scientist. Deal with it.

    Finished Cast yesterday, rated it above average. For a Trek book with only two TV series and one movie characters it was quite gripping. *lol* I actually wouldn't mind more 'Lost Era' Vaughn books, showing his development into the guy we see in DS9.

    (I know he's in the original Lost Era books. I just want MORE.)

    I had no problems with Valeris' background, and I don't think it was too cliche. Remember, things become cliche because they're often true...
     
  6. Steve Roby

    Steve Roby Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    I read it, and evidently I liked it more than a few people here. I found it refreshing that Swallow skipped some cliches I half-expected would pop up here. For example...

    Too often stories about damaged characters end with them realizing how wrong and bad they were, and then they single-handedly save the day with an act of heroic and noble self-sacrifice that leaves the other characters saying damn, too bad she had to die just as she redeemed herself, what a waste.
     
  7. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    Yeah, I'm with Idran and Shanjayell on this one. I despise Bush too, but this is a bit of an overreaction. The term has been around alot longer than Bush has, and I don't see why him having used it suddenly makes it so bad.
     
  8. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    You left something out of that sentence, Shane; it just makes it incomplete otherwise!
     
  9. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    Thanks for the comments! These are the notes I came up with on the progression of the Kriosian political situation while I was writing Cast No Shadow...

    2140's – Krios is ruled by the Kriosian Sovereign Dynasty
    2260's - Klingon expansion closes in on Krios, the Valtians are a constant threat (possibly exacerbated by Klingon agents).
    2270's - Klingons annex Krios and suspend Kriosian sovereignty, promising to assist Krios in cold war with Valtians. They keep their promise (more or less) but use their foothold to begin aggressively mining planets in Krios system for Bilitrium and Pergium.
    2280's – Krios is firmly in the grip of the Klingons. Kriosian resistance forms. Over the next few decades they become a constant thorn in the side of the colonial government.
    2290's - Chang serves a tour patrolling the Krios sector, and makes contacts there.
    Early 2293 - Praxis explodes. Krios mining program stepped up in response to loss of Praxis; Krios Prime itself is now being strip-mined. Unrest on Krios reaches an all-time high.
    Late 2293 - Chang secretly offers the resistance a deal; work as his go-betweens and Krios will be freed (and given the means to conquer Valt Minor) once he's the chancellor. Chang's plan fails, the STVI conspiracy unravels. The Kriosians are left twisting in the wind; Chang's surviving agents give up many of the resistance contacts, and they're hunted down, their numbers severely depleted.
    < 2299 – Looking for ways to destabilize the Klingons, the Tal'Shiar make their first contact with the embittered remnants of the resistance.
    2300 – Aided by the Romulans, the resistance embark on their plan to destroy the Khitomer accords and reignite the UFP-Klingon conflict. The intervention of Valeris, Starfleet Intelligence and Klingon Imperial Intelligence stop their plans. However, some remnants of the resistance survive and go underground.
    2330’s-40's – The Kriosian resistance experiences a gradual resurgence.
    2367 - Governor Vagh accuses the Federation of assisting the resistance; but Romulan involvement is discovered instead. The UFP steps in to assist the Empire in negotiating a ceasefire with the resistance. The Klingons, dealing with problems at home and the oncoming threat of civil war, decide Krios is too much trouble (and is largely tapped out of resources anyway) and grant it "freedom".
    2368 – The newly freed Krios, feeling the pressure from lack of resources, offers an olive branch to the Valtians. The UFP assists with the peace negotiations.
    2370 - The Krios-Valt Peace Treaty is signed.
     
  10. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    I did name a ship after the esteemed Mr. Ford – the Chon’m (say it slowly – Chon’m = John M... Geddit?!?)
     
  11. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    Thanks for the comments. That was very deliberate on my part! The Hunt For Red October is one of my favourite novels and I was aiming for a Clancy-esque ‘cold war thriller’ feel with Elias’s storyline.

    See my reply above to ToddCam’s question...
     
  12. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    You’re wrong.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    That same president used the word "America" quite a lot, but does that mean the country needs to be renamed? For that matter, should we stop using the phrase "mission accomplished" because it's associated with a Bush gaffe?

    I don't think the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" is associated specifically with George W. Bush, any more than the word "pulpit" is uniquely associated with Teddy Roosevelt or "ask" is uniquely associated with John F. Kennedy.


    Oh, hence the explanation that it was the name of a noted warrior-poet.


    I was surprised that this version of Valeris's backstory was inconsistent with Steven H. Wilson's Saavik/Valeris story "A Question of Loyalty" in DC's Star Trek Special #2, because I'd gotten the impression from earlier comments that it would be acknowledged. But on reviewing the story, I guess there's no way to reconcile that story's version of Valeris, who's pretty much just a Vulcan supremacist who holds all other races in contempt, with this story's more nuanced version, who has a more specific hostility toward Klingons and a strong sense of loyalty to the whole Federation, not just Vulcan. I liked "A Question of Loyalty," but I like this book's portrayal of Valeris better. And it's cool to get more insight into the TUC conspiracy.

    It's interesting that the Vulcans have a colony on Sigma Draconis V in 2300, considering that "Spock's Brain" established the presence of three distinct civilizations on that system's third, fourth, and sixth planets, with the ones on planet IV being pre-warp but advanced enough to detect the Vulcan colony's presence. I wonder what led to that.
     
  14. elaithin

    elaithin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    Maybe by this time they weren't "pre-" warp anymore?

    I just finished the book a few days ago. ST VI is actually my favorite of the original series movies, so I loved seeing a follow-up to it. The exploration of Valeris' character was well-done, as was the Jack Ryan/Elias Vaughn character arc. All in all, I rated it as an 'outstanding'.

    My one complaint was how Section 31 was regarded. Good lord, they're not really very 'secret', are they?
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    Well, that only makes sense. The bigger a secret is, the harder it is to keep. And bureaucracies, even secret ones, tend to be inefficient and failure-prone. The idea that this huge secret conspiracy could go on for centuries without anyone getting an inkling of it is completely ridiculous. It makes more sense to assume that Starfleet Intelligence and a lot of higher-ups are well aware of them and often take action against them, but they disperse and hide in the woodwork for a while and wait until it's safe to come out. Probably the only reason they were able to operate so freely during the Dominion War era is because Starfleet officials like Admiral Ross chose to tolerate their actions due to the perceived need.
     
  16. elaithin

    elaithin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    Oh, I know. I can buy the Tal Shi'ar knowing about them. It's someone as junior as Vaughn was in this book that surprised me, though.
     
  17. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    Exactly... I still regard Ford's The Final Reflection as the definitive Klingon novel, and certainly one of the best pieces of Star Trek fiction I have ever read.

    I don't consider it to be inconsistent; I think the connection is less literal, more open to reader interpretation. My original intent was to make a more direct, overt link between the two stories in the text, but in the writing I didn't find a place where it felt correct to do so. But to me, that connection is still there, but "under the hood", so to speak. I certainly feel like Wilson's writing of the character informed me to some degree while I was writing Valeris.

    That's a deliberate nod to something from the FASA Star Trek RPG lore.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    ^Well, yeah, consistency of characterization, but there are some clear factual inconsistencies -- although that's because Wilson's story has a couple of inconsistencies with TUC. "A Question of Loyalty" has Valeris meeting Kirk while she's still a cadet, but Cast No Shadow shows her just after graduation and says she's never met Kirk (which is more consistent with TUC, where Kirk didn't know who she was at first). AQoL also establishes that Spock is meeting Valeris for the first time during her training voyage on the Enterprise, which contradicts TUC's assertion that Spock was her Academy sponsor (an inconsistency I never noticed until I reviewed the story last night).
     
  19. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    I found Cast No Shadow to be quite good. Really enjoyable. I liked the way we saw more into the conspiracy. Valaris' backstory was quite believable.

    I do have a couple of questions about a couple of possible errors.

    Gattin considered this. "There's only one human here, the once called Vaughn.
    Should once be one?

    A remnant from the old ways when the Klingon Empire was nothing but and war and death.
    Is there an extra and there?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
  20. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Cast No Shadow Review Thread

    As I am a well-known nut for inter-book continuity, I was particulary jazzed, not only for the novel-verse connections, but for the Shatner-verse references as well. Although, it might make my next update for the "Charting" thread a little more complicated. Perhaps another addendum for the Shatner-verse rather than a brief mention in "Misc." Although, it is far easier to incorporate The Ashes of Eden into the novel-verse than it would be for the rest of the 24th century adventures.
     

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