Star Trek Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions
© 2011 David Mack
“That’s what passes for good news, now? We have a good chance of not dying if we crawl into a hole and keep our heads down? I’d hoped we’d have higher standards by now.”
“We play the cards we’re dealt,” Eddington said. “The real question is: What are we going to do next?
Rise Like Lions is the triumphant conclusion of the Mirror Universe lit series, opening with a catastrophic defeat for the Rebellion that sees the seemingly victorious Alliance undermined by its success. As the rebellion retreats to shelter what’s left of its men and material, the Klingons and Cardassians’ pride drives them to internecine war, and a long-dead emperor’s secret project to build a new Republic activates. Although the Rebellion receives new life by unifying with a slave revolt from the Romulans and is further strengthened by Spock’s version of the Foundation, its leaders remain divided and can only be saved by…Luc Picard, tomb raider turned George Washington in Space. Although readers may object to a few deus ex machina moments, overall Mack’s redemption of the mirror universe is a terrific action novel that redeems the mirror universe.
Star Trek stands apart from most SF series in its unyielding optimism about the nature of man and the future, which is part of why the Mirror Universe has had such a lingering attraction for trek writers since — allowing them to write our familiar characters as weak and corruptible instead of icons of Federation goodness. Even so, in Trek good wins out: Rise Like Lions not only features a Miles O’Brien who would prefer to exile himself from power rather than behave like his enemy, but continues to uplift a former tomb raider to make him a model hero. The soul-deadening violence and general viciousness of the MU stories in general here fast give away to familiar patterns, heroes resisting the darkness and making it flee from them. A new way is being forged from the wilderness of violence and waste. There are a few epic battles here, all edge-of-the-seat events, although towards the end it becomes apparent that Spock’s secret project is a little overpowered. One of the battles isn’t militarily necessary, but happens because the Rebellion wants to prove to itself that it has moral legitimacy: it’s not fighting to restore the old Terran Empire, but to establish something greater and better, a republic that offers freedom, peace, and respect for all persons.
I like Rise like Lions, and not just because its general theme is redemption, and despite my frequent cynicism about the world I really do live in hope — or want to, anyway. I appreciate how formerly minor or misunderstood characters like Michael Eddington here play a major stabilizing role (he’s the rebellion’s voice of reason), and characters who are regarded as rather mundane in the ‘real’ universe (O’Brien and Keiko) here are the heroes. That was a mark of the series in general, allowing readers to see more of Cal Hudson, Sito Jaxa, and Eddington than we did on screen. The book was full of memorable moments, particularly a assassination that is utterly unexpected to those who have seen Deep Space Nine. No spoilers, but if you like Corat Damar already you’re going to want to give him a high five. Although the ending has a feeling of fulfillment, Mack also tacks on an epilogue that hints that another book may follow if readers are aching to see what happens when the Dominion enters the new arena.