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Book Reviews: Dark Mirror + Q&A

Star Trek The Next Generation: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane
This 1994 novel was a good sequel to the iconic ‘TOS’ episode ‘Mirror Mirror’ in which Kirk and Co paid an unwanted visit to the Terran Empire. Sadly this book was later invalidated by the ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ mirror universe episodes. The crew of the Enterprise D are studying hyperstrings in a purgatorial area of space when they are stolen into the mirror universe by the greatest menace they will ever face: themselves. The crew view their mirror doppelgangers with incomprehension, but the only way to get home is for three senior officers to sneak onto the ISS Enterprise and be traumatised by what they find there. Picard is too in love with his own sadness at his harsh mirror doppelganger and his toxic reputation and vile acts. Troi finds her mirror doppelganger is a filthy sadist who pouts moodily while wearing street-hooker attire and showing off bare whore legs in slag heels. The slutty and uncontrolled mirror Troi indulges in sexualised abominable behaviour, Troi is kind of envious. Geordi strumps around realising his mirror doppelganger acts like something that sniffs around petrol stations at night.

They get deliciously nostalgic for home as they encounter the manky, unwanted and unloved mirror Wesley, mirror Worf who chokes on his own shame and exploitation, mirror Barclay who enjoys fear, risk and exhilaration and mirror Riker who is a  profoundly annoying Milk Tray man gone wrong. The society that created these inhuman types is revealed as a shabby, sordid, highly toxic, lurid, abhorrent, blinged up, blow hard oligarchy that somehow manages to run a pervasive, unequal, chaotic Empire with over powered starships crewed by the nastiest pieces of work in existence.

Appalling unspeakable things have been done in this dark, dark place yet the doppelgangers are mad sad self deluders lost in a slew of resentment and denial about the cesspit Empire that is such an unmanageable mess even the Milky Way itself has effectively cast off the Empire. The crew must plot an escape and foil their doppelgangers amidst emotional punches, provocations, epic hubris, intolerance, violence and mumbling creepers lurking around corners. This was consummate fun as the unsavoury adversaries are foiled as the philistines they are, techno babble is revelled in and Picard urges an Empire subject to create a more pluralistic society.

Best Lines:
“It’s not always safe to say no to Commander Riker.”

“His face had a calculating look about it, like that of someone who spends his life anticipating trouble and isn’t entirely disappointed when it finally arrives.”

“Planet surface was cleansed of alien life-forms, later relocated to orbit around Gamma cephen prior to resettlement by approved species.”

“He gets what he’s brought down on himself.”

“You haven’t had a scruple for years.”

“They had now succeeded in exterminating, or dominating, almost all life with which they had come in contact.”

“The simple, quiet, patient dark, in which everything ended sooner or later.”

“There are literally no more worlds to conquer.”

Star Trek The Next Generation: Q&A by Keith R.A. DeCandido
This 2007 novel interrupted the Borg onslaught saga to tell yet another tale of Picard and the shameless, reviled Q. It seems there has been meaningful depth, quality and content to Q and his semi-transgressive behaviour all along. Q the notorious trickster has a plan. Shame it is interrupted by the banal, ludicrous Crusher/Picard goofing romance. Then by Miranda Kadohata doing the logistical problems of being a working mother and First Officer. Then by the terribly serious new security chief Leybenzon who causes much iliberal antagonism. Both Leybenzon and Kadohata would be killed off in later books but the core characters are sadly sacrosanct. Exposition is dumped, a non-terrifying threat engages in misbehaviour. This was a deficient tale with a paucity of interest, cloying plot devices, Picard indulging in pathetic self-delusional rudeness and Q being vindicated amidst tedious action and DeCandido’s horrible way of writing. This book was such a dog, it could win at Crufts.

Best Lines:
“No forward motions designed to unconvincingly intimidate?”

“Picard had other methods of dealing with Lore if the android ever got delusions of grandeur.”
Tags: 2nd hand book store find, book review, star trek

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