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Admiral Harmon

Dark Mirror Review (Book Spoilers)

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I've owned the book for roughly 3 years on Kindle, but I finally plowed through it. Here are my thoughts on the book, a concise review!

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Dark Mirror is set mostly in the mirror universe. Well, one mirror universe. It's supposed to act as a follow-up to TOS' superb episode Mirror, Mirror, and in many ways, it does work as such. The USS Enterprise gets sucked into the mirror universe, where the ISS Enterprise is set against it, with plans to infiltrate the Prime Universe and lay the groundwork for an invasion.

 

Pros

 

The story is well written and that is a plus for any book. I was able to complete the book in about seven hours, over the course of three days, which is a tribute to how well the book is written. The book chooses to follow four people, Will Riker, Deanna Troi, Geordi LaForge and Captain Picard, which is very good at narrowing the focus of the story. 

One of the strengths is this book I will call voice. When you read this book and Picard will be speaking to Deanna, you can very clearly hear them speaking in the voices of Marina Sirtis and Sir Patrick Stewart. It's because the author was able to truly capture how these people talk and make it seem natural. When I read tie-in novels, whether it be Star Wars or Babylon 5 I try to read each character using their voice and you can immediately tell if they get the 'voice' of the characters right. It's not just what they say, but how they say it and how they act. Do their inner thoughts hit the mark? That sort of thing and like I said, Diane Duane does that.

The tone also works well. The constant suspicion of the Mirror Universe Enterprise compared to the more light-hearted tone of the Prime Enterprise. You could immediatly tell which was which by how they felt when you would change from one to the other.

Another strength is Duane understands how communications work in the ST universe. The plan is to have crew of the ISS Enterprise replace crew of the USS Enterprise and return to Prime space. The reason they chose the Enterprise is it's in a region of space that communications will take time.

Not only the how they work, but how being in the middle of nowhere would cause them problems and what-nots. Too many people when they write books forget that distances equal delays in communications. There is a reason why most of Picard's dealings with Starfleet Command in TNG are not real-time or even lag communications. No, they are messages that have been sent hours back, many times with out-of-date orders that aren't able to keep up with the flow of on the ground, in the moment changes.

The character I feel is the standout character for both Light and Dark Side is Deanna Troi. When it comes to frank scariness and the character that the author seemed most comfortable and competant in writing, it's her. You feel the sheer power of this character in both universes and who really has the true power on the ISS Enterprise. When she is around, you get a true feeling of superiority and condescension that definitely would make the Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed a true terror to met in real life.

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Cons

 

Unfortunately, there are a ton of bad. Not likely extremely bad, but areas that the book is pretty weak in my opinion or just lazy.

Back when I talked about tone, I mentioned light heartedness of the Prime Enterprise. Well.....they make it far too light in my opinion. Geordi LaForge spends a lot of time around a female officer, who keeps smacking him. I'm sorry, but why is a Starfleet officer hitting another one, even if offduty? Especially when it's hard enough that even blind Geordi can see stars? And why is Riker so unguarded in his cadness that he gets ice-creamed because he says something wrong to a woman? Why is he being talked about as practically stalking a female crewmember of Engineering? We know that they can have fun in the Prime Universe, as we've seen them being festive and having fun, but they try so hard with this book to show the differences that it comes off as unnatural.

The Mirror Universe is simply TOO close to ours when it comes to the characters. The only thing that really changed was their personalities. At no time did they have to worry about running into people that had physical differences. That was one of the things that made the Mirror Universe so interesting in Mirror, Mirror and later in In a Mirror, Darkly. There was characters who actually looked different. Infact, they are so close to each other, they even have the same possessions and even do the exact same hobbies (ex. both Picards are painting the exact same picture at the exact same time). Remember how in the TOS Universe they made it a point that only a few things remained the same with their characters and it was strange when they saw the stain on stain on McCoy's table? That level of difference doesn't exist here.

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The reasons for the invasion really is poorly written and the set up for it makes little sense. Somehow the galactic arm they were on breaks off of the galaxy and in the matter of a few decades it's so far away they can't traverse the distance? Even for sci-fi that is a pretty shaky premise. And if indeed the United Empire of Earth (a truly lazy and unimaginative name in my opinion, the Terran Empire is just a much better name to call it) really is desperate to keep growing, why would the fact that it would take them a decade to cross the expanse keep them from invading the rest of the galaxy?

Also, they propose the idea that two of the same item can't exist in the same universe at the same time for any lengths of time because the mass of both identical things would cause the galaxy to implode in that sector of space. Um.....okay, I might be no teacher of theoritical sciences or whatnot, but I have to call shenanigans on that. It realy makes no sense, even by sci-fi standards. If space is infinite, having two of the same thing in the same galaxy wouldn't do anything. Unless you have two of the same planets cose enough they mess with each other's atmosphere.

The conclusion of the conflict is ridiculous. They use hyperstrings that connect the two universes together to shoot back the ISS Enterprise and decide to outfit all the planets of the Federation with the technology to slingshot back each invading ship. That just seems lazy and too much of God-tech for belivability, even by ST standards. 

 

Summary

 

As much as I want Dark Mirror to stand as one of the better books of Star Trek literary history, it falls short of it. Much of it was lazy, despite a little more imagination could have fixed much of the issues. It does have the feeling of a two-parter episode arc and while I encourage anyone who wants a Mirror Universe that has what I feel is more plausible timeline then what we got in canon to read, it has too many issues to be taken too seriously.

I give Dark Mirror by Diane Duane a B-

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I remember liking it quite well overall.

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I remember liking it quite well overall.

It's a good book, but like I said, I found quiet a bit of the setup, reasoning and execution to be lacking.

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I remember liking it quite well overall.

It's a good book, but like I said, I found quiet a bit of the setup, reasoning and execution to be lacking.

I tend to give anything MU a bit more latitude than other books simply because they're really meant to be largely devoid of substance. The universe itself is just a plot device for ham-fisted moustache twirling.

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I remember liking it quite well overall.

It's a good book, but like I said, I found quiet a bit of the setup, reasoning and execution to be lacking.

I tend to give anything MU a bit more latitude than other books simply because they're really meant to be largely devoid of substance. The universe itself is just a plot device for ham-fisted moustache twirling.

True that. lol

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