TNG: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by rfmcdpei, Feb 10, 2013.

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Rate Dark Mirror.

  1. Outstanding

    24 vote(s)
    47.1%
  2. Above Average

    20 vote(s)
    39.2%
  3. Average

    5 vote(s)
    9.8%
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Poor

    2 vote(s)
    3.9%
  1. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    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: Feb 10, 2013
  2. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    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!
     
  3. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Oh? How so?
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Everything except the empathic powers. ;)
     
  5. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :techman: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.
     
  6. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  7. bullethead

    bullethead Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.

    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.
     
  8. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Some of them were short sleeved (Riker and Geordi) but not all. I think senior officers could basically wear whatever they wanted.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  10. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  11. bullethead

    bullethead Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  12. CaptainDonovin

    CaptainDonovin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Have not read this one, looks like I have more reading material for my trip at the end of the month.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Right, because humans never do anything self-destructive or die in accidents...


    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.
     
  14. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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    Dark Mirror is about as good as it gets

    and Hwii is awesome
     
  15. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  16. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I enjoyed Dark Mirror, much as I do most of Diane Duane's work.

    Continuity problems be damned; I just shelf it as part of the Young Wizards universe now. :techman:
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Nice idea. (For those who don't know, the book references an aquatic ritual that's an important part of Deep Wizardry.) Although you have to gloss over the way the book refers to Hwiii as an alien delphinoid rather than an Earth dolphin -- something which I suspect Duane was required to do by Richard Arnold or some editor or licensor who had a problem with the portrayal of Earth dolphins as being that intelligent (although the TNG Technical Manual's reference to the E-D having dolphin and orca navigational consultants aboard would argue that such a portrayal would've been perfectly acceptable to the show's makers).
     
  18. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    The Song of the Twelve? (That came up on Goodreads.)

    I found the below blog post

    http://pellucere.dreamwidth.org/230225.html

    that takes note, with some degree of upset, the various Young Wizards references in Dark Mirror. These Easter eggs don't bother me, although they do make me want to actually read that Duane series.

    Never mind the basic premise of Star Trek IV. It's not clear to me that they did a good job of depicting Hwiii as a being foreign to Earth, what with his friend who got podded off of the Carolinas and the very close identification of Hwiii's own multispecies cetacean civilization with the cetaceans of Earth.

    Call it convergent evolution, call it transplantation by the Preservers if you must. It certainly didn't bother me, and actually was something I liked.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yup.


    That's a good idea. Be aware, though, that there are two versions of the first four books; not long ago, Duane revised them to be more contemporary (since, after all, the characters have only aged a few years in-story in the more than two decades the books have been coming out, so aspects of the early novels were outdated, like the computer tech, the lack of cell phones and their associated lifestyle changes, etc.). So you can choose whether you prefer the original versions complete with continuity problems or if you'd rather have the series feel more cohesive by getting the updated versions.

    There's also a spinoff series which is less YA-oriented, the Feline Wizards novels -- definitely worth reading if you're into cats.


    Yeah, it was just a passing reference to Hwiii being from another planet, and it clashes with the character's portayal throughout the book. Which is why I'm convinced it was a change requested in the revision phase and that Duane's actual intent was for Hwiii to be a real Terran dolphin.
     
  20. Santa Claws

    Santa Claws Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's been ages since I read this one; sounds like a reread is in order!

    This. :techman: