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Star Trek novels
#61
Dark Mirror by Diane Duane (1993)


I'm not a TrekLit guy - after the Shatnerverse Mirror Trilogy, this is the first Trek book I've read in at least a decade. But, it's been challenging me from the Screen Junkies set for a while now, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Fine, fine, I see you; heading to the library now...

First thing: it's too damn long. The first third is mostly dry astrobabble setting up the cross-universe mechanism by way of mysterious natural interstellar strings, which, zzzzzz. It also spends a lot of time on a sentient dolphin character, who floats around on a levitating field of water, with robotic hands. What does this have to do with the Mirror Universe? Not much.

When the plot finally starts up, it's a slow burn even then. Only Picard, Troi, and Geordi actually interact with the Mirror crew, and then mostly separately. Indeed, dolphin character aside, the entirety of the action could easily have been an episode (probably a two-parter, but possibly a single one, with enough trims), leading me to wonder if author Duane (who co-wrote TNG 1x6, "Where No One Has Gone Before") was trying to pitch it as such, but it was published too late for that - maybe this was a re-use of a spec script? Anyhow, the story does eventually build up considerable tension, with the standout character being the terrifying and sexy Mirror Troi. And then things conclude with a lengthy starship chase, which, for unconvincing reasons, threatens to destroy either the Mirror or Prime galaxies. (The idea is that imported mass from another reality, if left around, will cause a cosmological apocalypse within a century or so, but it's hard to believe that there isn't enough natural cross-universe particle migration to have done that already - and the ENT ep "In a Mirror, Darkly" shreds that idea anyway.) The chase on its own would have been just fine without that extra element.


Conclusion: the latter middle half and climax make the whole thing more or less worthwhile, but it could have stood to lose a good third of its volume in editing. And while I wouldn't call it mindless, there's really only one mirror character that the heroes make an effort to reach out to, and it's an interesting choice. That Mirror Troi, though...

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