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TAC Reviews...Star Trek: Mirror Universe Books

 

If you are a fan of Star Trek then you have probably come across the Mirror Universe either in the Original Series or Deep Space Nine, however, if you tend to favour The Next Generation or Voyager then you might not be familiar with what the mirror universe is, so allow me to summarise it for you…ahem…it is a mirror universe…clear??

 

Terran Empire Insignia (...I couldn't find a representation of the mirror universe itself...)

 

Now obviously my summary above is just me poking a little bit of fun at my less intelligent readers, there is more to the mirror universe obviously. The five books that I am going to be talking about were first published in 2007 and features a host of characters from the Enterprise-era right the way through to The Next Generation who are invariably evil or battle hardened or something in this alternate universe…not to be confused with the Alternate Universe that has resulted due to Spock and Nero going back in time in the 2009 film Star Trek

 

Now I am not that familiar with the Star Trek Original Series escapades into the mirror universe but from what I have been able to piece together Kirk (and others) from the Primary Universe somehow ended up in an alternate timeline in which everyone was under the oppression of the Terran Empire. Starfleet still exists but the ships are crewed with opportunistic officers that will murder their way to the top, torture one another and trust is a rare commodity. Now apparently, after the cross over with the Primary Universe alternate Spock mind-melded with Kirk and saw that in the universe he had come from there was a United Federation of Planets where races worked together in peace.

 

Jumping ahead to The Next Generation era the Terran Empire has fallen and humans are second class citizens at best but are basically enslaved by the Cardassian-Klingon alliance and are being worked to death under the boot of their savage masters. The Bajorians have positions of authority but essentially killing is the way to progress, Bashier and Kira from the Primary Universe crossed over to the mirror universe during a mishap with the wormhole and managed to spark the Terran Rebellion.

 

Since then the mirror universe has popped up several times in DS9 and they were pretty decent episodes, there was even a mirror version of the Defiant, the fight against the Cardassian-Klingon alliance was pretty entertaining plus seeing some of your favourite characters getting to play their evil alter-egos was a joy.

 

Now…Star Trek: Mirror Universe books…

 

These fall into the trap of taking an interesting universe and making everyone in it so fundamentally unlikable that you are completely unsure who exactly you should be rooting for. There are currently five books which are comprised of three short novels apiece. They start with Glass Empires, Obsidian Alliances, Shards and Shadows, The Sorrows of the Empire and finally Rise Like Lions. I have to admit that I have only read Glass Empires, Obsidian Alliances and a third of Shards and Shadows, the reason is that I can only take so much of either the scheming and corrupt Terran Empire or the asshole Terran Rebellion fighting the equally unpleasant Cardassian-Klingon Alliance before I need a break.

 

There were only two occasions that I can say I was invested in any of the books. The first is in “Sorrows of the Empire” when Spock takes over the Terran Empire and systematically runs it into the ground, knowing the Empire’s enemies will rise up to crush it because he knows that in order for there ever to be a Federation then the human race needs to be downtrodden, rise up and…recognise that peaceful solutions are better than fighting…at least I think that was the point of that story. The second time was in “The Worst of Both Worlds” when we were following Jean-Luc Picard and Dr Soong (the guy who made Data in the Primary Universe) as they attempted to find a cybernetic race that they are hoping to convince into helping them fight the Alliance, or course it turns out that this race (the Borg if that wasn’t obvious) are far more dangerous than the Alliance could ever be.

 

These were two occasions when I was actually invested in the characters and the story unfolding before me as I read. Unfortunately these books are in the minority and we spend the rest of our time in the presence of characters that are such dicks you’d rather they all got wiped out or assimilated.

 

In one of the stories Obsidian Orders named “The Mirror Scaled-Serpent” we are seeing what the Voyager counterparts have been up to now that they didn’t get thrown to the Delta Quadrant. Basically Chakotay is a leader in the Rebellion, Janeway is his engineer and fuck-buddy, Harry Kim is a battle hardened badass warrior and Anika Hanson (Seven of Nine) is a massive slut. Meanwhile Torres is a powerful figure in the Alliance and has a loyal sex slave whose identity we only learn late in the book…it is Tom Paris just in case you don’t get the massive sign the book might as well be holding over him throughout the proceedings. The reason this book in particular really pissed me off is because not one of the characters in it are even remotely likable. Harry Kim is determined to murder as many klingons as possible, he bangs Anika at one point, but it is there for its own sake. It is made clear that Harry is getting no pleasure from it, and Anika basically has sex with anyone that moves so why was it there?? I think that maybe it was just thrown in there so fans of Voyager who were shouting at the TV when Seven asked Harry is he wanted to “copulate” and he said no would “see” the two of them fucking each other into a standstill. Still the fact remains what is the point of it?? Adding nothing to the story and just shows that Anika is a slut and Harry is a uncaring murdering machine, both of these things we already knew. It turns out that Janeway is working for Torres and was screwing Chakotay in order to manipulate him, and by the end everyone it is had so much blood on their hands that none of them are any better than others.

 

Like I said who are we supposed to be rooting for here??

 

The other problem I have with these books is that so many people in them are absolutely retarded…in the same book we have a novel called “Saturn’s Children”. Here we are following Kira after she was exiled following the loss of Terok Nor and is trying to find favour within the Alliance in order to re-establish her former position of power. Meanwhile the Rebellion is working on building eight more Defiant­-class ships so that they can take the fight to the Alliance as the Defiant they currently have is the most powerful warship in the universe. Smiley O’Brian is struggling to maintain control over the rebels who want to strike back against the Alliance in increasingly bloody ways and knows that once the eight extra Defiant ships are completed he will not be able to hold back other leaders who want to smash anything and everything associated with the Alliance. Okay so the Rebellion are going to build more powerful warships, fair enough, unfortunately they go about it in the stupidest way possible. Kira manages to manipulate her way onto Mortok’s ship after she discovers evidence that indicates the Rebellion are building the ships. They travel to the system and sure enough they find the base where the ships are being constructed and are almost ready to launch. The original Defiant arrives in the system under cloak and detects Mortok’s ship on the edge of the system and decide that the best thing to do is launch their new fleet so they can crush the vessel beneath their mighty boot…this makes no donkey bollocking sense…the Defiant detects a single klingon ship at the edge of the system and doesn’t simply fly up behind it, de-cloak and blow it into atoms. It is so stupid that it just does not make any since, how could anyone have possibly thought that this was a good tactic?? How are the Rebellion even a threat to the Alliance if they are lead by people who are thick as pig shit?? Presumably it was done to keep the series going because if the Rebellion can build as many Defiant-class ships as they wished then we would be right back to the Terran Empire again or the Cardassian-Klingon Alliance would be crushed and there would be no more stories.

 

If I cannot get invested in the characters then I cannot enjoy the story…that is why Moby Dick is still sitting within my kindle only half-read…I don’t give a shit about any of these mirror universe counterparts. In Deep Space Nine they were the underdogs fighting for a noble cause…freedom…that is fair enough but in these books every single person is either a murderer, a liar, a whore, an opportunist or all of the above. How are you supposed to root for any of them when you’re hoping the Borg will turn up and just assimilate every single despicable character in the book.

 

If you are determined to read more into the Mirror Universe books then my advice would be this: Small pieces…not very often. The novels within the books are not very long so read one, then give it six months for the bile that has built up in your throat and the desire to beat everyone in the story to death to subside before picking up the next one. Admittedly I will probably make it to the end of the five books because they are all downloaded on my kindle, but as I have said, I will follow my own advice and will therefore probably finish them sometime in the next few years…and that will still be quicker than the time it’ll take me to finish Moby Dick

 

I think that my Thumb has to be Down because if you cannot read something for more than a hundred or so pages before you want to kill everyone you are reading about then it has failed to draw you in and make you care.

 

 

3.5/10 – There are some decent stories here unfortunately for every good one there are at least three that are just a waste of time that invariably end up with everyone in the book dead or worse still alive to continue disappointing readers like me with their unlikable personalities.

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek: Mirror Universe Books (the other two)

 

So after I had finished reading the first three books in this five book story-arc I was so sick of everyone in the stories that I abandoned them. However, eventually the bile that I had in my throat withdrew and I decided to finish the final books and see how things end.

 

 

If you read my previous review on the Mirror Universe books (and I’m assuming you have) you’ll know that basically I found everyone so scheming, so despicable, and so stupid that I stopped reading. All of the characters were thoroughly unpleasant and I had no desire to see any of them win. But I had a gap in my reading schedule and as I had just finished reading The Autobiography of James T. Kirk I decided to return to them.

 

The only stories that I had liked from the previous novels was one involving Jean-Luc Picard as an archaeologist that was working loosely for the Cardassians but basically stayed out of the way of them and the Rebellion. He encountered the Borg and recognised how much worse the Collective was after his lover, Vash, was assimilated. After which he and his companion Deanna Troi disappeared to live out their lives in secret.

 

The other book was about the fall of the Terrain Empire but as the Mirror Books take place in The Next Generation-era we weren’t going to see any more about that story.

 

One of the characters I didn’t mention from the previous books was a guy called Mac Calhoun because I wasn’t 100% who he was or what his struggle had to do with anything. Ultimately he took command of an incredibly powerful starship called Excelsior (?) and joined with the Romulans after Romulus was destroyed by the Alliance. This wasn’t to say that I didn’t think the stories about him and his crew, a couple of which were familiar faces from Next Generation were bad, I just didn’t see what they had to do with the characters we’d seen during the DS9 cross-over episodes.

 

Now following on from the previous books we have the Rebellion very much on the back-foot as their fleet of Defiant-class ships have been destroyed and several of their leaders killed, retarded leaders, but leaders none-the-less. Miles O'Brien is in command of the Rebellion but things are not going well and various power struggles are taking place within the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance.

 

I have to say that these books are far better than the previous ones because the different dangling threads start to come together. Memory Omega, a secret organisation created by Emperor Spock, that has been working in the background actually takes an active role in the stories now. They have somehow found a fleet yard that exists beyond the galaxy, that has advanced technology that enable ships to travel instantly from one location to another. O’Brien and Mac are locked into a stand-off by their own pride, arrogance, and the fact that neither is willing to act under the other, so the Rebellion joining with Mac’s Romulan forces seems impossible. But Memory Omega recruits none other than Picard to be the new leader of the Rebellion, as a neutral party he is in the perfect position to be in command. Initially he is more of a figurehead but as the stories develop he begins to get a feel for command, and becomes the Captain of Legend he is in the Primary Universe.

 

What I particularly liked is that the remaining characters are not all despicable assholes that deserve to die. In previous stories, Janeway, Harry Kim, Riker and numerous others were basically grizzled warriors obsessed with killing regardless of the cost. Essentially they had abandoned their humanity for the sake of revenge. If you’re going to do that then you have to make them likeable or charismatic or really develop their characters so the audience understand why they act that way. The previous stories didn’t do that which is why I, for one, was so un-invested and didn’t care about them or what happened to them.

 

This time around the survivors of the previous books have a clear goal in mind, and are able to do things because it is the right thing to do. The Klingons at one point develop a weapon that can destroy a star (like Soran did in Generations) and decide to destroy the Bajoran sun to obliterate Terok Nor as well as Bajor. The rebels fight to repel them because allowing the Klingons to commit genocide isn’t something they will allow, despite Bajor being a long-standing ally of the Alliance. Many die as they struggle to repel the attacking forces.

 

Sadly there are still some weak links with Kes being one of them. In an earlier book (I forget which) Kes and Neelix end up in the Alpha Quadrant in a reverse of what happened to Voyager when the Caretaker brought them to the Delta Quadrant. As a powerful telepath Kes was taken to Memory Omega to undergo training to develop her powers, by now her mental abilities are formidable. There is a bit of a damp squib moment when she escapes from Memory Omega, she goes to find Neelix who has become a captain in the Rebellion and tries to persuade him to come with her. He refuses and initially wants her to fight alongside the rebels as with her powers she’ll easily be able to crush the Alliance’s forces. She refuses and instead removes Neelix’s self-will making him her puppet. Once the brainwashing is stopped by Tuvok who has a device that can dampen her powers, Neelix rejects her, horrified that she would do such a thing to him. Kes then spends the majority of the rest of her time unable to use her powers and bitter that Neelix is lost to her forever. Tuvok is forced to deactivate the device when the Rebellion’s forces look set to be crushed by the Alliance enabling her to destroy the invading fleet. Moments later she declares herself Empress and destroys the device in Tuvok’s hand only for him to tell her that the dampener will kill her unless it can be deactivated…using the device she just destroyed…wah, wah, wahhhhhh…so Kes’ dreams of grandeur disappear as her head basically explodes.

 

Generally though the last couple of books focus more on the positives and the fact that the Rebellion is ultimately looking to make peace with the Alliance rather than slaughter them all. The characters are more likable and making Picard the commander of the Rebellion works as he is similar to his Primary Universe counterpart and is not an asshole that you want to die.

 

There is a lot of crap that you basically have to wade through to get to a decent ending, but the ending is, it has to be said pretty good. The assholes are dead and the remaining characters are people who the reader will actually like and was glad to see survive to see Spock’s dream realised. The final books get a Thumbs Up as they bring together all of the dangling threads left over from the previous stories and apart from the odd misstep they are generally pretty good.

 

 

7/10 – You have to get through a lot of crap to get to this point, but if you can make it through the lies, treachery, idiots and characters you long to see die then these final books will leave you with less of a bad taste in your mouth when you think of the Mirror Universe Books.

 

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© Chris Sharman