Reading the Babylon 5 Novels: “The Touch of Your Shadow, the Whisper of Your Name” by Neal Barrett, Jr.

Having finally watched Babylon 5 for the first time (check out my posts for that series at my Babylon 5 Hub), I decided to dive into the novels. I’ll be reading them largely in publication order and reviewing them individually as we go along. Please do not spoil later books for me. There will be SPOILERS for the book reviewed going forward.

The Touch of Your Shadow, the Whisper of Your Name by Neal Barrett, Jr.

The premise of this (so far best-named) Babylon 5 novel is that there’s a big magical space snake thing that causes bad dreams and the people on Babylon 5 have to deal with and/or fix that.

The problem with this book is that so much of it is dreams. I’m sure I’m exaggerating here, but it felt as though a third of this book was just sitting in people’s dreams. I guess that wouldn’t hugely matter, if the dreams had relevance for Babylon 5 more broadly. Technically there’s some character development in these dreams, like a comedic/serious scene with Lennier, but it doesn’t go very far.

A huge amount of this book is focused around those dreams as well. Basically that’s the whole story here:

Everyone on Babylon 5: There’s dreams, let’s deal with them by rioting.

Garibaldi: No, don’t do that.

Everyone: Oh, okay.

Alright, I oversimplified, but that summarizes most of the plot that isn’t dreams. Yeah, they have to deal with the space alien thing, too, but at some point I just stopped caring. The good points here are the title and the occasional flash of seeing a favorite character acting in a just-right way. There’s so little by way of main plot here that it becomes difficult to even want to get into it. The dreams have no real investment on the part of the reader. We know they’re dreams, and that they’re not even building character in most cases. They’re just fluff that serve little purpose other than to pad the length of the novel.

The Touch of Your Shadow, the Whisper of Your Name is another mediocre Babylon 5 novel. Honestly, I think reading it and just skipping over all the dreams in the book may give it the chance to be more enjoyable, but as I think about doing that, I realize how little plot there is apart from them. It’s just an okay read.


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5 thoughts on “Reading the Babylon 5 Novels: “The Touch of Your Shadow, the Whisper of Your Name” by Neal Barrett, Jr.

  1. Calling this an “ok”-read is already very generous of you ;-). This is a “thin” book in every sense of the word. Nothing interesting and/or enlightening happens here. Thus, one might as well skip it; you’re definitely not missing anything if you do.

  2. socrates17 says:

    Barrett is usually a terrific writer, but reading your essay makes me glad that I don’t do tie-in novels.

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