The final Star Trek novel from Pocket Books in 2009 takes us into the mirror universe, with David Mack’s "The Sorrows of Empire". Originally a novella in the 2007 "Glass Empires" anthology, Mack has expanded the story of Mirror Spock’s rise to power in the Terran Empire. Even if you read the original novella, this new novel is twice as long, so there is plenty of new material. See below for our exclusive chapter preview.
EXCERPT: Star Trek Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire
by David Mack
NOTE: Contains spoilers.
The Sleep of Reason
Death was close at hand; Empress Hoshi Sato II felt it. The shadows of her bedchamber vibrated with its icy promise.
Candles flickered on the periphery of the ornately appointed room. A haze of lavender incense smoke lingered like a gauzy blanket above her bed; her Andorian physician, Dr. th’Nellis, had chosen it for its cloying, quasi-medicinal sweetness, in a futile effort to mask the odors of the Empress’s ancient, dying body.
Hoshi II found the fragrance repugnant, but after all Dr. th’Nellis had done to extend her life, she didn’t wish to embarrass him by ordering it removed. The soft-spoken thaan had spent most of the past decade supervising the Empress’s gene therapy, and transplanting vital organs and transfusing fresh blood from lobotomized clones of her predecessor, the original Empress Hoshi Sato. His efforts had verged on the heroic, but there was nothing more to be done.
Her body felt insubstantial, as if it were a feather on the wind. She was as weak as the winter sun, as tired as a dream that wanted to die.
Not yet, she thought, willing herself to live. She had words she needed to speak, a sacred charge she needed to impart.
She beckoned with one withered hand. “Come closer, sister.”
Soft footfalls broke the silence as her teenage twin, Hoshi Sato III, stepped out of the gloom to stand by the bed. The youth caressed a strand of gray hair from her elderly sibling’s cheek with one hand; in the other she held a wineglass filled with cabernet the color of blood. The young woman’s touch was warm, but her expression was cold as she gazed down at the Empress. “I’m here,” she said.
“I don’t have much time left,” the Empress said, her once-melodious voice reduced to a dry rasp.
The cloned echo of her youth replied without pity, “So I see.”
The Empress summoned the last of her failing strength. “I never gave you a chance to know me.”
“I know your reputation.”
“Then you know only a fiction.” A sharp pain in the Empress’s chest stole her breath. When it passed, she continued. “Like the first Empress Sato, I wanted more for the Empire than war and slaughter. I wanted it to be secure. Stable.”
Her heir-apparent let slip a soft snort of derision. “Forgive me for correcting your history, Majesty, but all your predecessor wanted was for her dynasty to be secure, and she saw the Empire as little more than a means to that end. That’s why we exist — because she wanted to make sure her empire had her face forever. We’re nothing more than copies of the biggest narcissist in galactic history.”
“We bear her likeness, but that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to live in her shadow. We can chart our own path, sister.”
The future sovereign smirked. “An ironic statement, coming from you.”
“I ruled according to my conscience, not hers.”
“Strange, then, that your actions and hers proved so similar. In fact, the only substantial difference I see in your respective reigns is that she had to conquer the Empire to became its tyrant. All you had to do was inherit it.”
“A despot is what I became,” the Empress said. “Not what I meant to be.”
“Let me guess: you aspired to a benevolent dictatorship.” She rolled her brown eyes and shook her head. “How banal.”
The sovereign’s voice faltered as she weakened. “I’d hoped to reform the Empire. Curb its excesses. Steer it toward a nobler path.”
“A reformer? You?” Hoshi III laughed angrily. “The Murderess of Andoria? The woman who redefined ‘ruthlessness’ for a generation?”
The Empress exhaled heavily and squeezed shut her eyes in anger and shame. “I confess, I fell for the seductions of power. Couldn’t resist serving my whims … my obsessions … my base desires. It was too much. I … I lost sight of myself.”
Recoiling and adopting a suspicious mien, the younger Sato asked, “Why are you telling me this, Majesty?”
“So you can learn from my mistakes,” the Empress said. “I no longer have the strength or time to chart a new course for the Empire. You do.” She reached out and grasped her twin’s hand, which was smooth and supple with youth. “You can steer the Terran Empire back toward honor.”
Young Hoshi’s brow knitted with confusion and amusement. “Why would I want to do that, Majesty? I’ve spent my whole life preparing to rule. And now, on the cusp of my coronation, you expect me to renounce the plenary power that’s my birthright? To shoulder the burdens of a prince’s throne while denying myself its most cherished perquisites?” She brusquely pulled her hand from the Empress’s grasp. “Have you finally lost your mind?”
“No, I’ve finally found my reason.”
The nineteen-year-old lunged forward as if to pounce on the bedridden sovereign. Perched on her fists, she hovered over her crone of a sister and let her lips curl into a menacing snarl. “You’re just a confused old woman,” she said, her voice freighted with contempt. “Honor? Nobility? You mewl like a coward fresh from a Klingon mind-sifter, or a child on her way to the agony booth.”
Regret swelled in the heart of the Empress. There would be no counseling her successor, no mitigating the ferocity or terror of the reign to come. This new monarch was a child of raw power and old privilege, a twisted product of the corrupt imperial court, a scion of cruel ambition.
“Heed my words, or don’t,” said the Empress. “But do not mock me, child.” She waved her hand dismissively. “I need to rest. Leave me.”
“In a moment,” the teen replied, locking eyes with the Empress.
Empress Sato II inhaled and savored one last breath tinged with lavender incense. She knew what was coming next.
The girl grabbed a pillow from the bed and pushed it down on the Empress’s face, leaning into it with all her weight and strength.
The Empress flailed feebly with her emaciated arms. Through the smothering mass of the pillow, she heard her successor pretend to comfort her.
“Shhh. Sleep, sister. It’ll be over in a moment.”
Within seconds the last spark of the Empress’s will faded, taking with it her panic and fear. Her arms came to rest at her sides.
Poised on the edge of oblivion, she expected to hate her killer.
Instead she felt only gratitude — because the Empire had at last become someone else’s problem.
The official release date for "Star Trek Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire" is December 29th. You can pre-order it from Amazon.
LOL, first at 130am Hawaiian time. Actually, this is an excellent ‘what if’ series of novels, and the new one is most welcome. I look forward to it.
Sounds really interesting so far. Sadly, they really don’t seem to do a whole lot with the front covers these days. Actually, kind of amateur looking.
I think this will be a great Novel. The Fall of the Empire maybe. it will be great to see how it ends and of course in the 24th century the Empire Rises again. Looking forward to reading this and seeing how things go. Long Live the Terran Empire.
It does sound interesting, and Mack is a great author (he does wonderful work on the Vanguard series). He seems sort of to be the TOS/ENT torch bearer for Pocket these days.
And yes, that cover is atrociously bad.
as a writer, i appreciate this writing. i just read the star trek 09 novel and the level of writing in that book suuuuuucked. And no, i’m not a hater of the movie, just the book.
All books based on movies suck.
David Mack does it again. We seen this scene happen way too many times (the ‘child’ murders the ‘parent’, and the wheel of fate turns yet again) but Mack has the ability and the empathy to bring out a uniqueness to the whole scene.
Plus, am I the only one who could actually imagine a young Linda Park snuffing out an older Linda Park? Creepy.
The Mirror Universe is another great example of an alternate universe. The fact that Kirk, Scotty, Uhura and McCoy didn’t disappear when they got sent to the Mirror universe is proof of the mutiple universe theory. Also, Bob Orci himself has stated on these blogs that the fact Prime Spock didn’t disappear in the alternate universe is proof that in the Abrams universe, time is not linear and alternate universes do exist.
My God, can these book covers possibly get any worse? Answer is yes. A long time ago, Star Trek novels had nice painted covers, actual works of art instead of these photoshopped pieces of crap.
I always found the “Empress Sato” thing to be one of the weaker writing decisions (among many) in ENT. It was an unfortunate end to a great set of episodes. Good to know Spock is taking over…
#9: Those covers sucked. This one isn’t great, but I much prefer the modern, more photo-realistic, covers to the generic paintings that they used to do.
Not true at all.
The book for Generations made me like that story. The movie sucked, but the book was great.
Bad Photoshop job on the cover.
And to answer your next question, yes, I could.
The novelizations for the TOS films are generally treasure-troves of expanded story-telling. I think Vonda McKintyre and J.M. Dillard did most of them, and perhaps someone here who remembers can put names to each book. Even Star Trek V was a good read.
The ST09 novelization was a surprising let-down due to Alan Dean Foster’s rep in old-line Trek fandom for his “Log” series based on TAS. It seemed rushed, and despite its apparent best-seller status, not many around here found it that interesting (let’s hope his next one is better).
Didn’t take long for the haters to circle around and start their spiel.
#2, and exactly how many pieces of art have you created?… and just what do you think is wrong with the covers?
I like them better than the fantasy muscle-boung covers of most fantasy books these days.
That said, I recognize your right to your opinion… even if I disagree with it.
#14; “The ST09 novelization was a surprising let-down due to Alan Dean Foster’s rep in old-line Trek fandom for his “Log” series based on TAS. It seemed rushed, and despite its apparent best-seller status, not many around here found it that interesting…”
It was. Even Mr. Foster himself said he wasn’t given much time to spend on the project. If any blame must be assigned it was on Paramount’s end for waiting so long to make up its mind in whether to release a movie novelization.
I agree that Forster’s animated logs were incredibly well done, and expanded nicely on the 22 minute cartoon episodes.
Seeing the book’s cover almost makes me want to read novels…just to see how the mirror mirror story turned out….almost…so close..
Sorry, but the cover looks like something from JibJab. BarBara Luna’s face is lit in a way that doesn’t match the lighting on the cleavage of whomever they used for the cleavage. Spock is fine, but I can’t help but see how they’ve taken BarBara’s 1967 face and pasted it on someone else’s body. There were plenty of pictures of her below the neck from the 60’s, why couldn’t the artist have used one of those to work with?
She’s still beautiful today, and it wouldn’t have been that hard to get a picture of her now and work from that even so at least her head looks like it belongs on the body.
Funny though, considering the story involves clones of Hoshi pieced together from organ parts, etc. Perhaps Mistress Marlena Moreau has had her head placed on another body. Then the cover would make sense, eh?
TWO Hoshi Sato’s!?
What’s that, I hear you say?
One’s a bed ridden old woman, and the other one is a teenage Hoshi? And both are clones?
On a serious note, I am really looking forward to this. Dave Mack is a great guy.
For example, the shot on the right center of the montage of one of her appearances with Wild Wild West:
Or High Chapparal, in yellow…
Or like from this show called, erm Star Trek? Right center shot, a dress even.
Karen Traviss’ novelization of Star Wars: The Clone Wars didn’t suck. That was a case both of the novelization being extremely good and the novel being better than the film.
– I’ve been watching a lot of WWW the last year, and someone needs to just do a fun little “slow news day” article on the numerous guest-star crossovers between that and Trek. There are a lot.
I was surprised to hear that David Mack has another book out (albeit an expanded previous story I haven’t read) and am looking forward to it!
Although I don’t give a whit about the cover in regard to the story I can understand the opinions. I’m not crazy about some of them as well but I can deal with it.
I just finished David Mack’s latest Vanguard book “Precipice” and enjoyed it immensely. INCLUDING the cover. He could write a phone book and I would buy it if it had one of his exquisitely detailed fight or space battle scenes in it! I hope he will grace us in this thread with a visit and inform us if their are any plans on the horizon for someone to continue the Vanguard story line. It’s just too good a story to leave us where it did!
Think I’ll read this and see how well it will mesh into the Shatner/Reeves-Stevens series of novels dealing with the Mirror Spock and Kirk’s counter-part Tiberius. And for those of you who haven’t read those best-sellers, the time period takes place after Generations and Kirk’s rebirth.
I know….” ‘The Return’ and the following novels after are not canon and Kirk is dead!” Sorry, these are good books and I suppose I’d rather think he lives and is still saving the Federation along side his friend Picard.
Go ahead. I’ll let you vent.
I find it funny that people are getting pretty worked up over a book cover. It isn’t that bad. And even if it was, I am reminded of an old adage: You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. On the other hand, we are all Trek fans and this is a Trek site. I guess “nitpicking” is the name of the game! I shouldn’t expect anything less, LOL!
I am looking forward to this one but the cover art really does suck big time. If I had the means even I could do better.
I don’t care what Paramont says but I think the shatnerverse series should be considdered canon! When the origional Captian Kirk writes something like that and they approve it then they decide to drop it all together to me that’s lame! I tjink it’s a cool way to introduce Kirk to the Borg! And JJ Abrams has the opprotunity to make thus cannon next time around if he just tries!
The ST:Vanguard books have wonderful covers…
#24: Having read the original novella upon which this MMPB is an expansion, I can tell you that The Sorrows of Empire is a completely different — and utterly superior — take on the history of the Mirror Universe.