Peter David is a prolific Star Trek author whose novels include IMZADI, TRIANGLE, Q-IN-LAW, Q-SQUARED and the NEW FRONTIER series, featuring Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the USS Excalibur, specially created for Pocket Books.
For twelve stories over such a range of time and Trek series, they end up being remarkably similar. They showcase the violence and treachery of the Mirror Universe, all right, but not much more, and the stories themselves are uninspired. Also, a heck of a lot of established characters get killed off. I realise that part of the appeal of the Mirror Universe is that writers can raise drama with the genuine possibility of character death. By halfway through the book, known character deaths becomes routine. Drama is not found in routine.
The first four stories are sent in the Terran Empire. The first story is told in flashback, but you can't tell which point is the present for 'Trip' Tucker. The second story is an intricate story of betrayal. The third is James Kirk becoming captain of the I.S.S. Enterprise. It is good, but told in a creepily light-hearted manner. After these three good stories, the Vanguard story is basically an action set-piece. It is the kind of story that works better on a screen than in print.
After that, the stories are set in the post-Empire period, with a mix of Alliance and Terran Rebellion stories, with the Memory Omega conspiracy as a frequent sub-plot. Three stories feature the Stargazer crew, some of the Next Generation cast, and some of the Voyager crew, and all are basically about the groups treacherously decimating each other. Keith R.A. DeCandido's story is the mirror for the Battle of Marcan V. Part of the interest in the story is that you don't know who is treacherous or who they intend to betray. The other main part is that the writing is very good and, it has to be said, noticeably above the quality of the rest of the stories.
Peter David's story is what Star Trek: Nemesis would be if mirrored, using the Excalibur setting ... and a comedy. Or at least, I found it impossible to take the story seriously. That is especially a shame as it features one of the largest-scale events in the Mirror Universe.
Jim Johnson's A Terrible Beauty is about Keiko Ishikawa. It is an intricate story of decepetion and treachery and a very subtle style of establishing control over people and events, and one of the better stories. There is a story with the Titan crew that is basically the usual slaughter, plus since it's Chris Bennett, some heavy-handed moralising. The last story is a David Mack special ops story. It's not up to his usual standard.
Overall, these stories are decent, but nothing special.
A Slight Stumble2009/1/11
I have much enjoyed the Myriad Universes and Mirror Universes collections and have eagerly awaited this installment since it was announced for last year. However, this entry did not strike me fondly as its predecessors. Some of the offers were quite good (ie Homecoming, The Black Flag, Nobunaga), but others didn't strike me quite well (Sacred Chalice, the format of Family Matters.) Overall, it's a good read, but I would recommend reading the rest of the Mirror Universe books before delving into this one.
Mirror Universe - Part Three2009/2/3
Shards and Shadows continues on from Part One. I noticed, however, that some of the stories referenced other stories in Obsidian Alliances. Fortunately, I had the other book and was able to access the previously-referenced stories to get a better handle of the "thread" contained within Shards and Shadows.
Had a few stories I'd like to see as full length books2009/8/1
Debbie's World of Books
It's been a long time since I have read Star Trek book beyond the ones I own. I found this book while browsing the shelves at the library and was glad to find it. I've always been a fan of the mirror universe episodes and books. It's interesting to see what my favorite characters would have been like if they took a different path in life or grew up in a different environment. This book is made up of 12 short stories that take place at different times and involve characters from each of the Star Trek series. I will admit I did not read the ones about the classic Star Trek characters. Some of the stories were just ok but Nobunaga by Dave Stern, Bitter Fruit by Susan Wright and A Terrible Beauty by Jim Johnson in particular really left me wanting more. I'm going to have to check to see if any of those were fleshed out into full length books. Nobunaga involves the crew of the series Enterprise and centered around Trip (my favorite of the crew) and imagine an evil empress Hoshi. Bitter Fruit is filled with the Voyager crew. It sounds like Kes may have a darker plan in mind for the world. A Terrible Beauty seems to have a mix of characters from various series. We see Riker, Tuvok and Deanna Troi's father. This was definitely another great addition to the mirror universe books and I can only hope some of them were or will be developed into full length books.
I don't generally care for the "Mirror Universe" stories; the basic concept is a fascinating one, but stories set in this universe have a tendency to get depressing, as (unlike in the regular run of Star Trek stories) the world is a dark and unforgiving place, and honor, honesty, and kindness generally are rewarded with a boot to the head. In this book, there is still some of that to be found, but we are BEGINNING to see the possibility of gradual change for the better. There ARE heroes, and sometimes they actually succeed in their missions. That makes this book for more palatable than some of the earlier books in the series.