Some say the line between good and evil is narrower than we
imagine: a divide as subtle as a mirror, and perhaps just
as deep. To peer into its black, reflective glass is to know
the dark potential we each possess, and we cross that obsidian
boundary at our peril - into a world where we no longer recognise
who we are or what we believed ourselves capable of. In the
late 24th century, the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance dominates
the worlds that, in another reality, make up the United Federation
of Planets. But a downtrodden few have found the courage and
strength of will to act. Inspired by visitors from another
continuum, they have rekindled hope, and rediscovered an ancient
truth: that every revolution begins with a vision...
volume, the second of two visits to Star Trek's "Mirror
Universe", presents stories set within the timeframes of Deep
Space Nine, New Frontier and Voyager.
In my review of the previous book, Glass
Empires, I commented on how it disregarded
previous excursions in licensed fiction to this dark realm,
such as DC Comics' Mirror Universe Saga and Diane Duane's
Dark Mirror, because they had been contradicted by
subsequent television episodes, and how those divergent Mirror
Universes might be explained. In the Next
Generation episode Parallels, Data theorises
that for every choice made, all other available choices are
carried out in parallel universes. Therefore, at various points
during the course of Mirror Universe history, choices made
could have caused a plethora of alternate universes to split
Another problem with the Mirror Universe is the unlikely manner
in which characters seem to be drawn together in patterns
that resemble the regular Trek universe. In this volume,
for instance, the Mirror counterpart of B'Elanna Torres is
born to a Klingon mother and a Terran father, just like her
Voyager equivalent, even though the circumstances of
her conception are vastly different (B'Elanna's mother Miral
has a fetish for human males, and has slept with several of
her slaves). We also encounter a Thallonian vessel crewed
by Mirror versions of most of the major characters from Peter
David's New Frontier series of novels. The odds against
such eventualities are astronomically high.
The real-life explanation is, of course, that it makes for
better entertainment if we see twisted versions of familiar
protagonists rather than a completely different set of characters.
It wouldn't be as much fun if, say, vessels such as the ISS
Enterprise had never been constructed, the Mirror B'Elanna
had never been born, or the Mirror Bashir and "Smiley" O'Brien
had never met.
A fictional explanation lies, once again, in the episode Parallels.
If we accept that there are an infinite number of parallel
universes, then even these unlikely possibilities must occur
in at least one of them. It may also be that the universes
in which events most closely mirror those of the regular Trek
universe are those most likely to breach the dimensional barrier.
This could explain why characters crossing that barrier into
a Mirror Universe usually encounter alternate versions of
themselves and their crewmates.
Having said all that, the first story in this collection does
feature a coincidence that is, for a change, quite believable...
A rebel ship commanded by a former slave named Chakotay
attempts to evade pursuit in the Badlands - only to encounter
a strange craft that has been catapulted 70,000 light-years
across the galaxy. On board are two aliens, one of whom has
the potential to alter the balance of power within the Alliance.
But as both sides of the struggle race to get to the stranger
first, treachery throws all schemes into a tailspin...
In a clever reversal of events from Voyager's pilot
Keith R.A. DeCandido's The Mirror-Scaled Serpent sees
the Mirror Universe counterparts of Neelix and Kes being flung
across the galaxy to the Alpha Quadrant. Having suffered torture
at the hands of the Kazon, Kes's telepathic powers are beginning
to exhibit themselves with deadly force. This turn of events
is a believable outcome in a universe where there is no USS
Voyager to come to the rescue.
rather less believable coincidence is the fact that once again
it's the Asian guy (this time Harry Kim) who sports a facial
scar, just like Sulu in Mirror, Mirror. However, as
with Hoshi Sato in In
a Mirror, Darkly and Glass Empires,
there's no denying the fun of seeing the most timid character
in the series become the nastiest.
the other regulars are present and correct in one form or
another, including Annika Hansen (alias Seven of Nine in the
regular universe) and even Seska (in full-blown Cardassian
mode), though not all of them are on the side you might expect.
And they seem to be having lots of sex. Chakotay likes it
rough with his engineer Kate Janeway, the latest of Annika's
long list of flings is with Harry, and B'Elanna has inherited
her mother's passion for Terran males, which she satisfies
with her favourite slave, Thomas - who serves her in bondage
in more than one sense. Numerous characters spend a lot of
time naked, both willingly and unwillingly (as prisoners),
and towards the end of the story there are descriptions of
some particularly gory violence. This is certainly not kids'
DeCandido overuses the phrase "to his/her credit" but, to
his credit (darn, now I'm doing it!), this is a most exhilarating
Almost a century after the collapse of the once-mighty Terran
Empire, its long-time rival, the Romulan Star Empire, has
absorbed many of the fringe civilisations spread across that
part of the galaxy. One of the Romulans' slaves is M'k'n'zy
of Calhoun, a savage and unpredictable Xenexian who dreams
of death - and who learns the value of freedom from the unlikeliest
of teachers, a Romulan named Soleta...
collection of six novels spread over two volumes - but only
five Star Trek screen franchises to work with. What's
the solution? Pocket Books has delved into its own New
Frontier range of novels in order to make up the shortfall.
Other series could have been explored, such as Vanguard
(which would at least have allowed for three Terran Empire
stories in the first volume) and SCE/Corps of Engineers,
but New Frontier is the longest running and best known.
Even so, author Peter David addresses the fact that many readers
will be less familiar with this series than they are with
the television franchises. He has concocted a story, Cutting
Ties, that does not rely on total knowledge of the range
(though of course you will enjoy it more if you're a regular
New Frontier reader). M'k'n'zy of Calhoun, renamed
Muck by his Romulan overlords, senses mysterious connections
with some of the people he encounters, including a Terran
slave called Elizabeth - those with whom his counterpart has
served in another universe, as we discover.
remains reliably constant is the author's talent for dramatic
situations and cracking dialogue, and that's what really counts.
One fallen dictator's struggle to regain her power and position
leads to the discovery of a bold rebel plan for a decisive
military strike against the Alliance. But while Kira Nerys
navigates the dangerous road of politics, sex and military
intrigue that she believes will allow her to reclaim the Intendancy,
cracks begin to form in the rebel leadership, leading to a
showdown that will change the course of the Mirror Universe...
was the case with the first volume, the shortest story happens
to get the biggest portrait on the front cover, in this case
Sarah Shaw's Deep Space Nine tale, Saturn's Children.
It may seem strange that the DS9 entry comes last.
I, for one, would have expected it to come before the Voyager
tale. However, this story is set chronologically later, concurrent
with DS9's seventh season, and it appears to lead in
to the Mirror Kira's appearance in the post-Season 7 DS9
Like Keith R.A. DeCandido, Shaw alternates between depicting
the power struggles experienced by a female member of the
Alliance and a Terran male on the side of the Rebellion, and
how these two struggles affect each other. In The Mirror-Scaled
Serpent it was B'Elanna versus Chakotay. Here it's Kira
and Smiley O'Brien. Without ever meeting, they influence each
other's fortunes. Even more so than in DeCandido's story,
I almost found myself siding with the supposed villain, so
successfully does Shaw get inside the mind of the Bajoran,
showing the suffering she has endured following her fall from
grace and her drive to restore herself to a position of authority.
It's a pity that this volume could not have ended with one
of the other two stories, because both of them conclude on
more positive notes than this one does (especially DeCandido's,
which offers pleasing tie-ins with the events of Glass
Empires). Nevertheless, this is an impressive debut for
the author, her first professionally published work of fiction.
The Mirror McGinlay must hate this book, because I love it!