Star Trek Mirror Universe: Obsidian Alliances
© 2007 Keith DeCandido, Peter David, and “Sarah Shaw”
Noticeably absent from Glass Empires were any characters or stories from Deep Space Nine, the series which revived and expanded the premise of the Mirror Universe. Obsidian Alliances remedies that absence, with three MU stories from both Deep Space Nine and Voyager. The third story is from New Frontiers, which I ignored completely, having zero interest in that (lit-only) series. The stories are grimmer in general than those in Glass Empires, and again are largely action and personal drama.
In “The Mirror Scaled Serpent”, two beings from the Delta Quadrant are mysteriously thrown across the galaxy and arrive in the badlands, smack in the middle of a chase scene involving a small resistance craft and a Klingon-Cardassian Alliance warship. After being “rescued”, Neelix and Kes are of great interest to both sides: Kes is telepathic, and the Terran Empire destroyed all telepathic species long ago, save for the Vulcans who had the good sense not to expose theirs. Weaponizing Kes could swing the balance of the war. Chakotay and his Maquis crew are transposed as rebels, with slight tweaks: B’Elanna Torres is their enemy, and Kathryn Janeway is now “Kate”, running the rebel engine room with a snarl even after she’s had her coffee. These are not the Voyagers you know and love, of course; Torres is self-loathing and matricidal, Harry Kim is an emotionally scarred orphan whose aim in the resistance is to kill Klingons, and Tom Paris is a er..sex slave to Torres. Neelix and Kes’ characters are largely unchanged, confirming my suspicion that the mirror universe is less a polar opposite of the ‘real’ universe and more of an alternate history where the point of departure happened on Earth somewhere in the past. (Where, who knows? The mirror-Enterprise title sequences hint that powers like the Nazis won in wars instead of losing, and that some power had taken control of Earth prior to the moon landing.)
The Deep Space Nine story, “Saturn’s Children”, revisits Miles O’Brien, leader of the rebellion, as he struggles with his conscience over the rebellion’s actions in the wake of having spent so much time in the Federation. He knows now that Terrans can be principled and compassionate, instead of acting like Klingons with better teeth, and objects to the scorched earth practices of his peer-generals.A disgraced Intendant Kira is forced to serve Chancellor Martok’s bed, but being the Intendant, promptly hatches a plan to return herself to grace and supplant her successor – the ice-cold Intendant Ro Laren. This stories has a host of characters I was delighted to see — Ro, of course, but also Sito Jaxa, a two-episode ensign from TNG who disappeared on a secret mission in Cardassian space. Unfortunately, her tenure here is similarly abridged.
Both tales are enjoyable-enough action stories, but again I was mostly interested in the characterization, and sorely disappointed that Ro and Sito played such minor parts. The continuing growth of the alternate Miles O’Brien is a plus, however. He’s such a doggedly good everyman character, and I’m glad to know he’s fundamentally decent in any universe. The DS9 tale is also notable for its author, Sarah Shaw, who is in reality David Mack, Destroyer of Worlds. I didn’t realize this until I searched for Shaw on Memory Alpha: it was very odd to me that I’d never heard of her before or since. According to Mack, he submitted the story under a psuedonym because he’d been asked to contribute to two volumes of the mirror anthology (the first being Glass Empires) but didn’t want to annoy the other authors who’d only gotten to do one story.
Next up: Shards and Shadows, which has contributions from seemingly everyone in Marco Palimeri’s rolodex. Seriously, there are thirteen authors.