G & T Show Book Club – Cast No Shadow by James Swallow
G & T Show Book Club – Cast No Shadow by James Swallow is now available to download. Check it out here. This time, Terry, Mike, and Steve get together to talk about Star Trek: Cast No Shadow by James Swallow and Star Trek: VI – The Undiscovered Country, which this book continues. Don’t miss this great book and interesting discussion.
This time on the Book of the Celestial Temple Book Club, Steve, Terry, and Mike have gathered to discuss James Swallow’s book, Star Trek: Cast No Shadow. This story essentially is Elias Vaughn’s back-story, while providing background for several other characters as well. The story takes place after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country around the year 2300, references those event, and through Valeris‘ point of view, goes back even further than that.
Steve admits that he couldn’t remember the character of Valeris because he had not seen the film in so long. Although he wanted to watch the film again, he never had the chance. Terry believes, you can guess a person’s age by where they place the Undiscovered Film in their lists. She’s noticed that it tends to get higher, the older she gets. Mike agreed. Steve admits that TOS never really grabbed his attention. As he has gotten older, he has grown to appreciate some of the stories in TOS.
Terry asked Steve what he thought of Cast No Shadow. He shares his thoughts on Valeris and how she twisted Vulcan logic and emotions to suit her needs. Then, her realization at the end of the book where she had to do the same thing to someone else, that Spock had to do with her. Steve found it timely with all of the discussion of torture that has been going on in the world recently.
Mike had read it a few months back and didn’t make the connection the torture issues. For him, he saw the cycle of abuse in the story. An abused person, despite their best efforts, later becomes the abuser. Mike goes on to comment on Steve’s point about Vulcan logic. By itself, it is a dangerous thing, because it can be used to justify anything. Logic needs to be tempered by some kind of moral compass. He believes that for Valeris, her moral compass was lacking, although in her eyes, hers was above reproach.
Terry asks if she was bred to do what she had done because of what had happened to her in her past? Steve doesn’t think Cartright used her, but instead recognized something in her. Because of what the Klingons had done to her parents, it instilled a hatred within her for the Klingons. Cartright saw it and took advantage of it. Like attracts like. Terry thinks that Cartright and Valeris’ point of views were shared by many others and drew parallels to the USSR and the end of the Cold War.
Steve talks about Kaj. He thought she had many parallels with Valeris. However, Kaj was able to put the needs of her people ahead of her own feelings. Steve liked how the Klingons were set up to be the better person. It turned the normal relationship upside down. Mike and Terry hadn’t thought about it that way, but they agreed with him. She was willing to accept help from an enemy, although she could not be completely sure that she was working with friend or foe. James kept us guessing throughout the book regarding both Kaj and Valeris.
Mike appreciated that by the end of the story, these two people that were filled with such hate for one another, they had respect for each other and the seeds for a friendship had been planted. Their respective relationships paralleled what was happening between these two civilizations — implacable enemies learning to cooperate and work together to eventually form a strong friendship.
Mike’s only complaint, which isn’t much of a complaint, was in regards to the cover. It let him down. He expected more Spock in the story. He would have liked to have seen more Spock. They had interacted with each other in the beginning. He would have liked to see them come together at the end.
Steve has started reading Section 31: Disavowed after he finished reading Cast No Shadow. Mike finished Section 31. They jumped from one spy novel to another. Mike goes on to admit that he’s now reading yet another spy book. He’s reading Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru. He’s starting to feel a little burned out on spy stories.
Terry gives people grief for over using Section 31, even though they are fun. Steve was pleased that Section 31 was used so little in this book. However, it was the Romulans’ spy network that was featured more often. They agree that Starfleet Intelligence should be the organization that should be used more often, while Section 31 should be reserved for the more clandestine ops that no one knows about. They talk about the difference between Starfleet Intelligence and Section 31.
Steve gets us back on track. He wants to talk about Elias Vaughn. Mike thinks this was his first real exposure to Elias Vaughn. Steve mentions that the only other time he’s really seen him was when he was in a coma, before he dies. They talked about the character as he appears in later books. Steve comments on his beard and how it came about through this book. Mike liked how confident in what he had uncovered that he had staked his entire career on the line in order to see it through to the end. He respected that for him. In the end, he was justified, but he had risked it all. Along the way, he had found supporters along the way that supported him just enough.
Terry says he was created specifically for the novels and never appeared in the films or in the series. He appears in multiple novel series. Steve appreciated that at the end, once he had gone through everything, Section 31 shows up trying to recruit him and he turns them down. Mike asks about Vaughn’s superior and his change of tune. Steve sets them straight about it.
They spend a few minutes talking about the rich universes that some of these long-lived IPs, such as Star Trek, have developed and compare it to other franchises, like Spiderman, that get rebooted a couple of times per decade and end up rehashing the same stories over and over again. Star Trek and Stargate among others have expanded the universe rather than rebooted. However, Mike understands that once a universe has become too expansive and cluttered, there is a need to reboot and start fresh, but it shouldn’t be something that happens regularly. Mike hopes that once Bad Robot finishes their run with the films, he hopes they don’t decide to hit the reset button again. They want something new with what they have already have established.
Steve wrangles us back by asking each of them what they loved about the book. The scene on the asteroid around Praxis stands out in his mind because of all of the recent space stuff that has been going on, such as Orion’s launch and the Rosetta mission. Terry appreciated James’ take on the relationship and points of view from Valeris. She loved that it was backstory for a movie that she loved and her first exposure to Elias Vaughn. She appreciated the insight into Valeris background and how she grew to accept herself. She compares her journey to Spock’s and how he had to die in order to achieve it. Steve appreciated the relationship between Valeris and Kaj and Vaughn to an extent and their banter back and forth. Mike regretted his answer after hearing their replies to the question.
At the time of the recording, we had not announced the next book we will be discussing. We talk about it for a few minutes and end up deciding to announce it at a later time. Since this episode was recorded, we have decided to go back and discuss Star Trek: Voyager: Homecoming and Farther Shore.
We thank James Swallow for putting together this book together. Terry mentions other books that have recently come out. She mentions the Star Trek: Pop-Up Book and the Star Trek: Ships of the Line.
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He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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