Trek fans were introduced to the Mirror Universe in the TOS episode, “Mirror, Mirror.” While in negotiations with a race of pacifist humanoids known as the Halkins, an ion storm caused Kirk and some of his crew to exchange places with their counterparts in a mirror universe while transporting back to the Enterprise. Kirk found himself in command of a ship that looked very much like the Enterprise, but that is where the resemblance ended. In the Mirror Universe of Star Trek, while things may have looked similar, political structures, protocols, and especially people were very different in behavior.
In later series, the Mirror Universe is explored in Deep Space 9 on numerous occasions, and again on the Enterprise series. Until now, my knowledge of the Mirror Universe was strictly through the television series. I enjoyed the incarnations of the Mirror Universe in both TOS and Enterprise, however I never really appreciated the episodes in Deep Space 9 that dealt with the alternate reality. I found those episodes actually to be a bit silly; feeling that the writers had over-done the caricatures of the characters from DS-9.
So you might think that I was a bit hesitant to read a book that dealt with the Mirror Universe, and you would be right, I was hesitant, but no longer.
I finished reading Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Obsidian Alliances and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it immensely. Obsidian Alliances is a collection of three short novels by renowned Trek authors Keith R. A. DeCandido, Peter David, and David Mack (Mr. Mack wrote his entry under the pseudonym Sarah Shaw). The stories in the three are set in the Voyager, New Frontier, and DS-9 alternate universes.
Mr. DeCandido’s contribution to this project is entitled The Mirror-Scaled Serpent and is set in the Voyager universe. When one starts reading, it feels like the beginning of Voyager all over again, only in this universe, there is no Voyager crew and it is Neelix and Kes that are sent to the Alpha Quadrant of the galaxy, where the discovery of persons with telepathic abilities are highly sought after and prized. The Terran Resistance in the persons of Chakotay and Tuvok take on the task of keeping Kes out of the hands of the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance who would use her telepathic abilities to their advantage. Without spoiling the story too much, I will also say that the Janeway/Chakotay relationship that many fans would have liked to see in Voyager happens in DeCandido’s Mirror Universe, but there is a twist to it. As a matter of fact, this story is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing on what to expect next. A very clever story and one any Voyager aficionado will enjoy.
Next up is Cutting Ties by Peter David, and is set with the characters from his New Frontier series, which I have blogged about before. But this New Frontier setting is nothing like the one we know with Makenzie Calhoun being the hero of his native planet Xenex, nor as the adventurous and sly captain of the Excalibur. Instead, he is rejected by his father after a battle for the independence of Xenex, and given into slavery to suffer under the Romulans. In the New Frontier novels Mackenzie is known as Mack, but in this version, he is mostly referred to as Muck, because when asked by a prominent Romulan what his name was, he stuttered. Under the tutelage of a female, Muck grows into a perversely similar character of Mack in the Prime Universe. New Frontier fans, such as myself, will appreciate this installment by Mr. David.
Finally, the collection closes with David Mack’s vision of the more familiar goings-on in the DS-9 saga. Titled Saturn’s Children, David Mack (again writing under a pseudonym) looks in on the deposed Intendant Kyra Nerys who lost her position to Ro Laren from the TNG series. This is the story of her plight to regain her political status by hatching a plot that will crush the Terran Alliance if successful. This story also contains many surprises as Kyra manipulates her way through a maze of twists and turns that, at least in my opinion, redeems the DS-9 mirror universe in ways they could not have shown on network television. I’ll just say that if David Mack had written the Mirror Universe episodes for DS-9 the way he wrote this story, it would have been far more interesting for me. (Just an aside note here: David Mack did participate in the writing of two DS-9 episodes that I know of, and they are among my favorites. They include the episodes “Starship Down” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”)
The three stories contained under the cover Obsidian Alliances are dark, gritty, and engaging. They are long enough to include a lot of detail and character development while at the same time short enough to be read in perhaps one or two sittings. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the stories of the Mirror Universe, but also to Trek fans that may not be familiar with the alternate universe saga from Star Trek. These stories will fire your imagination and might even give you pause too because the descriptions of the characters are very vivid.
Other Activity I Am Currently Engaged In…
I also finished the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs' series of novels, John Carter of Mars. I don’t know why I never looked at these books before as I became intrigued by Carl Sagan’s description of them in his Cosmos television series many years ago. I also recently rented and watched the film titles John Carter and although it was pretty much panned by the critics, I found it to be a great movie and will be purchasing it sometime in the future to add to my growing BluRay library. I do have to thank the hosts of Starbase 66 and The Scifi Diner for convincing me to rent the movie.
I also, at the urging of the Starbase and Diner rented Dredd starring Karl Urban of the JJ Abrams Star Trek film released in 2009. I had watched about 30 minutes of this film and found myself thinking that I didn’t want to watch any more, and I finally stopped the film 20 minutes later and did not, nor will I finish watching this movie. I found this movie to be way over the top with violence and perverted scenes that I found particularly offensive and beyond what would be needed to tell a story. ‘Nuff Said.
I am currently reading Failure is Not An Option by Gene Kranz. He is a retired flight director from the heydays of the Apollo Program, and so far, I am enjoying this book because it brings back a lot of memories of watching mission coverage while I was growing up, and it also gives a behind the scenes look at the workings of what goes into preparing and executing a NASA mission.
I am also listening to several podcasts and am severely behind. I am either going to have to cut back on those, or start listening more than I currently do while driving back and forth to school.
One of the highlights of the past several weeks for me is watching the television series Continuum on the SyFy Channel. I got hooked very early on in the series and it has become one of the things that I must do on Monday nights. Along with that, I discovered a podcast that deals exclusively with Continuum called Liber8 with Mike and Dave. In this show, Mike and Dave dissect each episode and break it down so one can actually understand what is taking place in the series in fine detail. Watch the show and let Mike and Dave do the heavy lifting for you, compare what you think with what they think, and if nothing else, stay current while the gaps get filled.
Well, there it is…