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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

View Poll Results: Rate Dark Mirror.
Outstanding 23 48.94%
Above Average 17 36.17%
Average 5 10.64%
Below Average 0 0%
Poor 2 4.26%
Voters: 47. You may not vote on this poll

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Old February 10 2013, 06:27 AM   #1
rfmcdpei
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TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Diane Duane's 1993 Dark Mirror is one of the select Trek novels to have its own Wikipedia article. That speaks to the high quality of this novel, the first to take a look at (a) Mirror Universe in the 24th century.

Dark Mirror is set largely in the mirror universe of the original series, where the benevolent Federation was a genocidal Earth-dominated empire and the personalities of the crew were twisted to match. Deep Space Nine took the mirror universe in a rather different direction from Dark Mirror, what with Earth by the 24th century being a conquered holding of the joint Cardassian-Klingon hegemony and all. In Dark Mirror, the empire is quite intact, thank you very much, having spared the Klingons to serve as warrior slaves (but as we learn in passing, having obliterated the Romulans and countless other unmentioned species). All of the crew of the Enterprise-D save Data (Soong died in a purge) have their counterparts on the I.S.S. Enterprise, and yes, they are very twisted, as our Picard discovers to his horror when he reads this ship's record (the destruction of an alien lifeform menacing Farpoint Station, the prejudicial terraformation of the Ferengi homeworld, the sterilization of Ligon II's secondary continent in response to an attempted hostaged-taking, et cetera). Oh, and the Empire is looking to our universe as ground for conquest, and has abducted the Enterprise-D.

Dark Mirror depends on a single twist for much of its effectiveness: What would the characters we know from ST:TNG be like if they were evil? It's proof of her genius that Duane makes the evil be the product of some of their good versions' personal aspirations. Does Deanna Troi wish she had stronger telepathic powers? She does here; what she does with them, now ... Do fans wish that Crusher and Picard had a relationship? They do here; what happened to Jack, though ... Are Deanna and Riker together? Yes, and they're horrible together and to each other. Is Geordi a powerful figure commanding respect? Yes, and he's a monster. Probably the most compelling of Duane's alternate-universe characters is the amiable monster Picard, the Worf who quietly maintains as much dignity as he can in trying circumstances, and the Security Officer Deanna Troi whose inquisitive steely viciousness prefigures Deanna's televised appearance as an undercover Tal Shi'ar officer. (I read somewhere that Duane received multiple requests from fans asking for pictures of her mirror universe version of Deanna.) Duane's original character on our side, the dolphinoid scientist Hwiii, did work for me, although friends have told me otherwise.

The broader plot, depicting the skill and bravery of the Enterprise-D's crewmembers as they infiltrate their Imperial counterpart and foil their dastardly plans, is equally entertaining. Somewhat surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the technobabble: the depiction of the multiverse as a sheaf of universes moving at varying speeds in relation to each other, some easier to reach than others, sounds plausible, while mining the idea of cosmic strings likewise worked for me.

Dark Mirror doesn't fit in with televised canon on the Mirror Universe--the Terran Empire that was crushed by the Klingon-Cardassian alliance thrived here--while the physics of interuniversal transfer and the consequences likewise differ. More subtly, knowledge of the Mirror Universe is much more widely known in the televised canon than in Dark Mirror, where knowledge of the Mirror Universe has been strictly classified for a combination of strategic and ethical reasons. That still doesn't mean Dark Mirror mightn't be wedged in. There's a very large number of universes out there, after all, including multiple iterations of the Mirror Universe, while the specific mechanics of interuniversal transfer chosen by this universe could well be much more traumatic. Even if it isn't, Dark Mirror still stands as a very good novel written by a talented novelist at the height of her powers.

(I saw a 2009 thread talking about Dark Mirror, but no ratings thread. I thought it was about time.)

Last edited by rfmcdpei; February 10 2013 at 06:44 AM. Reason: typos
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Old February 10 2013, 06:38 AM   #2
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Evil Troi is marvelous, and more than a bit scary because we once met a Star Trek fan who turned out to have many of that character's attributes!
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Old February 10 2013, 06:43 AM   #3
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
Evil Troi is marvelous, and more than a bit scary because we once met a Star Trek fan who turned out to have many of that character's attributes!
Oh? How so?
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Old February 10 2013, 10:37 AM   #4
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Oh? How so?
Everything except the empathic powers.
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Old February 10 2013, 05:15 PM   #5
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I really liked this book.Deanna Troi is a ruthless& scary person in this book.I re-read this book a few months ago.It was a well written story and Diane did agreat job writting a Mirror universe novel.
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Old February 10 2013, 05:52 PM   #6
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I'm a big fan of this book, although it's been so long since I read it that many of the details have faded. Very, very good, but not quite Duane's best. Above average from me.

I seem to recall some of the mirrorverse uniform descriptions as being quite amusing.
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Old February 10 2013, 07:06 PM   #7
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I think this is the only TNG-era story that really got what made the mirror universe so appealing, which makes it stand out against everything derived from the DS9 MU. There are some things that make it feel a bit dated/cheesy (the dolphin officer, mostly), but the story definitely felt like it could've been a fantastic movie with a few tweaks here and there.

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
^ IIRC, the mirror universe uniforms were the same as their primary counterparts, except the collars were higher and the colors were darker (plus many crewmembers wore personal sidearms or blades). Alternate Troi was the only one who really wore a completely different uniform style, for obvious reasons.
IIRC, there was something about the guy uniforms showing off a lot of muscle or something, which made me think they were short-sleeved or something.
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Old February 10 2013, 07:08 PM   #8
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

^ Some of them were short sleeved (Riker and Geordi) but not all. I think senior officers could basically wear whatever they wanted.
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Old February 10 2013, 07:49 PM   #9
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

bullethead wrote: View Post
There are some things that make it feel a bit dated/cheesy (the dolphin officer, mostly)....
I'll never understand why people think that. There's overwhelming evidence that dolphins are sapient beings whose mental capacity may match or even exceed our own in some respects. You'd think SF fans would be thrilled by the idea of real alien intelligences coexisting with us here on the same planet. It's the sort of thing that should inspire awe and wonder in the lover of SF, and it's an idea that's been explored by many respected SF writers over the decades, from Arthur C. Clarke to Larry Niven to Anne McCaffrey to David Brin to Douglas Adams to William Gibson -- and by nonfiction science writers such as Carl Sagan. So I'm always bewildered when I come across the reaction that it's somehow silly or cheesy to portray intelligent dolphins in fiction.
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Old February 10 2013, 07:58 PM   #10
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I haven't read this one for a while now, but from what I remember, it was impressive! The evil Troi was one of the best elements; not to mention the mirror ISS Enterprise-D sounded neat looking. (I want to see a real image of it!)

I'll have to give it another go.
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Old February 10 2013, 08:24 PM   #11
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Christopher wrote: View Post
bullethead wrote: View Post
There are some things that make it feel a bit dated/cheesy (the dolphin officer, mostly)....
I'll never understand why people think that. There's overwhelming evidence that dolphins are sapient beings whose mental capacity may match or even exceed our own in some respects. You'd think SF fans would be thrilled by the idea of real alien intelligences coexisting with us here on the same planet. It's the sort of thing that should inspire awe and wonder in the lover of SF, and it's an idea that's been explored by many respected SF writers over the decades, from Arthur C. Clarke to Larry Niven to Anne McCaffrey to David Brin to Douglas Adams to William Gibson -- and by nonfiction science writers such as Carl Sagan. So I'm always bewildered when I come across the reaction that it's somehow silly or cheesy to portray intelligent dolphins in fiction.
Stuff like seaQuest DSV and the 80s whale craze probably tainted the idea for a lot of people, although I would imagine seaQuest and its horribly "cutesy" voice for Darwin had the more negative impact. And I think the gradual jading of our society probably soured lots of people on the idea, especially when dolphins would wind up stranding themselves and dying - it's hard to keep your hopes that dolphins were really intelligent alive when they keep beaching themselves for no apparent reason.

With Dark Mirror, I think the problem is more about the image of a dolphin flying around in a water-filled space suit thing than anything else. It just seems like a really ridiculous image and concept to swallow, one that just ruins suspension of disbelief because of how absurd it is.
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Old February 10 2013, 08:24 PM   #12
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Have not read this one, looks like I have more reading material for my trip at the end of the month.
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Old February 10 2013, 09:01 PM   #13
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

bullethead wrote: View Post
And I think the gradual jading of our society probably soured lots of people on the idea, especially when dolphins would wind up stranding themselves and dying - it's hard to keep your hopes that dolphins were really intelligent alive when they keep beaching themselves for no apparent reason.
Right, because humans never do anything self-destructive or die in accidents...


With Dark Mirror, I think the problem is more about the image of a dolphin flying around in a water-filled space suit thing than anything else. It just seems like a really ridiculous image and concept to swallow, one that just ruins suspension of disbelief because of how absurd it is.
Why is it ridiculous? Rather, how is it any more ridiculous than a human in an air-filled spacesuit floating around in vacuum? Frankly what I'm hearing sounds like sheer prejudice -- an alien intelligence shaped like a human and existing in the same kind of environment is acceptable, but one that doesn't remind us of ourselves is somehow a lesser form of life. Maybe you need to watch "The Devil in the Dark" again.
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Old February 10 2013, 09:29 PM   #14
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Dark Mirror is about as good as it gets

and Hwii is awesome
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Old February 10 2013, 11:19 PM   #15
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Re: TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

bullethead wrote: View Post
Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
^ IIRC, the mirror universe uniforms were the same as their primary counterparts, except the collars were higher and the colors were darker (plus many crewmembers wore personal sidearms or blades). Alternate Troi was the only one who really wore a completely different uniform style, for obvious reasons.
IIRC, there was something about the guy uniforms showing off a lot of muscle or something, which made me think they were short-sleeved or something.
Basically, everyone--including the command staff, even Picard--had uniforms that exposed large swathes of skin. LaForge's uniform was compared to a stoker's.
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