Star Trek Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows
© 2009 various authors, ed. Margaret Clark and Marco Palmieri
The mirror universe of Trek is chiefly known for its inhabitants’ general awfulness and triumphant moral chaos. In The Sorrows of Empire, however, Spock killed his captain and seized control of the Empire not for his own gratification, but in pursuit of a dream. In reforming and weakening the Empire and allowing it to be conquered by its enemies, he established the foundation for a new galactic order, seeding the empire with agents conspiring together to create a peaceful republic from the ruins of both the Terran Empire and the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. Shards and Shadows consists of over a dozen stories spanning the the mirror universe’s trek tenure, and Spock’s secret project — “Memory Omega” — is a persistent aspect of the latter stories. The collection draws on not only the Trek shows, but various series of literature like Vanguard, Stargazer, and Titan. It also visits periods not covered in shows or books. One story follows a young officer named Kirk as he seizes the Enterprise from its ruined drunk of a commander, and another visits the ruined planet of Betazed, where a brothel madame named Troi is hiding desperate secrets.
Below are a few memorable stories:
- “Nobunaga” opens the collection with a mindscrew story, one in which the narrator is losing their mind under interrogation and consequently confusing realities. It’s a bit like the TNG episode “Frame of Mind”, or the Roman Polanski film The Tenant.
- “The Greater Good” revisits the world of Talos IV, where Captain Christopher Pike was once captured by telepathic beings and placed into a zoo. That was in our reality. In this reality, whatever happened turned a brilliant young commander into a lifeless shell — and a ripe target for a rising officer who coveted the Enterprise.
- “A Terrible Beauty” features Keiko Ishikawa, who is definitely more than a botanist and loving wife in this universe.
- “For Want of a Nail”: only one man can stop a centuries-old plan from being unraveled: Reginald Barclay.
I liked this collection more than the previous two, largely because it’s not all torture and genocide; here we have signs that Spock’s plan will at least bear fruit, even if it doesn’t create some uber-federation from the ruins of various nasty polities. I enjoyed the variety of contributing authors, which included favorites from the Relaunch era (Christopher Bennett and David Mack) as well as authors who were active far earlier, like Michael Jan Friedman.