‘Star Trek Cast no shadow’ is set in the original Star Trek universe and not the 2009 reboot. Which isn’t surprising as apart from the movie and a few young adult novels the new universe has not been expanded upon. ‘Cast no shadow’ is set 7 years after the events of ‘The Undiscovered country’, the sixth and last movie with the original cast. In essence the book tries to answer questions that went unanswered from the movie as well as tie some of the events that preceded the sixth movie with those that occurred after ‘The Next Generation began’. At first I was sceptical such a story would intrigue the reader. The natural instincts of the writer might have been to play it safe and allow the characters such as Valeris and Spock to merely play out some sort of adventure that would not interfere with what is already known from the Star Trek universe.
The writer, James Swallow, manages to avoid playing it safe and wrote a story that is just as blunt and bloody as the sixth movie, keeping the reader guessing until the last page about how he makes everything fit.
The story is set as I mentioned seven years after the events of ‘The Undiscovered country’, this is after the tragic events that occurred on the Enterprise-B that claimed the life of James T. Kirk (though we know he survived in the Ribbon), Spock now works for the Federation Diplomatic Corp and Valeris has been sentenced to life in a penal colony on Jaros 2. Captain Sulu has remained the only constant as he remains in command of the Excelsior. These characters are joined by Eliot Vaughn, whom we know from the expanded universe, in this story he works for Starfleet intelligence. Of course more characters are introduced not to mention the antagonists but as they remain intriguing to the last I see no reason to add spoilers to this post.
Suffice it to say that since the Khitomer accords the relationship between the Federation and the Klingon empire remains difficult with a group of terrorist using the moment to launch strikes against Klingon relief efforts. Quickly a lead on the terrorist takes Spock to Valeris, the last remaining member of the Chang/Cartwright conspiracy.
The story makes deft uses of flashbacks to explain the events surrounding the Gorkon assassination and yet they don’t show important plot developments as the flashbacks are each set further back in time, ultimately revealing why Valeris felt about the Klingon’s the way she did. In some sense the last revelation brings her personality quite close to that of T’Pol from ‘Enterprise’.
James Swallow’s prose is easy to read and absorbs the reader into the story, the writer shows both his skills and vast knowledge of Star Trek. It reminds me of the first Star Trek novels that were written by fans of the orginal show rather than by writers on contract by Pocket Books. Choosing the events surrounding ‘The Undiscovered Country’ underlines that.
Here is the synopsis as seen on the cover.
Seven years have passed since a catastrophic explosion on the Klingon moon Praxis touched off a chain of events that would result in the assassination of the reformist High Chancellor Gorkon, and the eventual creation of the historic Khitomer Accords. Now, as part of the ongoing efforts to undo the disastrous fallout from the destruction of Praxis and with the help of aid supplies from the United Federation of Planets, reconstruction is in progress, and after years of slow going hindered by political pressures and old prejudices, headway is at last being made. But the peace process begun by the Khitomer Accords is still fragile just as the deadly plans of what is believed to be a hard-line Klingon isolationist group violently come to fruition. Yet the group thought responsible for the deadly attack has been dormant for decades, and its known modus operandi doesn’t match up to the way of the strike. And further investigation leads to an unexpected revelation connected to the Gorkon conspiracy of 2293, and in particular one disgraced and very familiar Starfleet lieutenant…
About the author… James Swallow.
This is the first book that I have read from James Swallow and immediately I get the sense he should write more space operas as it seem to come to him so naturally. His bibliography contains novels for all kinds of franchises such as Stargate, Warhammer and Dr. Who.
He is also an avid scriptwriter having written episodes for Star Trek Voyager as well audio stories for Stargate and Star Trek, and has worked on the story of Deus Ex; Human Revolution.
The title ‘Cast no shadow’ refers to a myth surrounding Kahless, he made his men stand near a campfire. Kahless killed the man who had no shadow as “a traitor casts no shadow”.