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Reviewer: Mistral Signed [Report This]
Date: 08 Aug 2013 03:20 Title: Chapter 1

Christ, you buried me right into the horror that is the Mirror society. As a father, I can't imagine living in any society where I was forced to treat my child like that. I've read some of your other stories with Doug in them-and you somehow always make him sympathetic, a light in an otherwise dark arena. Bravo!

Author's Response:

Thank you very much!

He has a supreme force of will (and it takes him a long time to get there, I might add). But he eventually does; he lives long enough to do so.

I appreciate your kind review.

Reviewer: trekfan Signed [Report This]
Date: 07 Aug 2013 00:42 Title: Chapter 1

Whew. A harrowing look at how things are done in the Mirror. Doug and others were raised this way as children and obviously it sticks with them, well into adulthood, which I can't blame them for. Doug shows off his wits and observational skills here, knowing he knows nothing about how to operate a 23rd century tactical station but using his eyes finding the most well-worn button, which I really liked. TOS was the last series to really have non-touch screen buttons (at least in terms of Trek time) and though the buttons themselves were jelly beans sometimes, they were always a nice touch on the show.

Doug saving his fellow crewmates was also really good. Not only would they be fighting between themselves, but they'd also be in his debt, which in the MU means he owns them until he calls in that favor. Doug is very much a product of his upbringing, and the MU could serve as a fascinating study on nature vs. nurture.

Also, Hoshi ... still the ever hateable (but fun to read) ruler of the Empire. Well done.

Author's Response:

I thank you, sir!

Yes, he definitely puts Masterson and MacKenzie in his debt (and Mac pays him back with betrayal ... oops, spoilers ...) but of course it's also a show of a better understanding of tactics and thinking ahead. I also wanted them to be kind of blundering along, as that does fairly neatly describe why Hoshi and the folks in the 2150s get a 2260s ship tossed in their laps but they never advance the tech by the time of the TOS episode, Mirror, Mirror.

Thanks. :)

Reviewer: FalseBill Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Aug 2013 21:51 Title: Chapter 1

very good Job with the five sign of weakness Jespah, like all your work you take an idea and explore it.

The warped family relationship and the whole athens vs sparta ideas, add to give Doug 3D, he not a good person but compare to the others of the MU, he could be a saint.

I do agree that some writers of MU don't do the darkness, it the worst of us and that never a nice thing. The indoctrination of the child Doug was well handled.

Author's Response:

Thank you very much!

Reviewer: CeJay Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Aug 2013 18:56 Title: Chapter 1

What a stark reminder of the differences between the prime universe and the mirror one. It's not just that people are inherently less compassionate and evil, they are trained and indoctrinated that way from a very early age. It makes sense, of course, there wouldn't be any other way to maintain an empire built on fear and intimidation otherwise.

Definitely not a nice place live. Hey, I wouldn't even want to visit.

A masterfully told story however.

Author's Response:

Many thanks!

Yeah, it's ... egad ... let's just say bad mojo and it'll be a big understatement.

Reviewer: Niobium Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Aug 2013 04:21 Title: Chapter 1

What I really like the most about this piece is I don't need to have read or seen much in the way of back story to get plenty out of it. I don't need to know this ins and outs of the MU, or who is who in the ENT setting; you give just enough on each person so that as a reader I can dive right in and enjoy it without wondering about what's going on. It makes the piece amazingly accessible.

I think the second, expository section could be shorter, because given the overall length of the piece it slows things down before we get back to some action (in relative terms), but it's also my personal taste to keep exposition super minimal, so that can probably go either way.

The feel of the MU is well realized; I knew hardly anything about it coming in (except that it involved Nimoy!Spock having a circle beard), and now I know plenty just from the characters' dialogue and Doug's internal history and thoughts. In particular the family scene is really great as a microcosm of the MU: it hits on the horrible aspects without making the dad a flat, 2D bad father, so there's depth to the situation.

Author's Response:

Thank you for your kind review!

I think the MU gets short shrift from a lot of people, who slap on sexier uniforms and call it a day. I see it as heartbreaking, that ordinary people are caught up by the whims of corrupt rulers.

Reviewer: SLWalker Signed [Report This]
Date: 31 Jul 2013 22:07 Title: Chapter 1

Poor Doug. Man, the mirror universe is a nasty place. I can't help but feel for the kid, because that's way too young to learn those lessons, and he doesn't seem to have quite bought into them as far as it appears he has on the surface. I hope that he succeeds in keeping it all together long enough to get out. (Which, I know, but even so.)

Author's Response:

Life in the MU is harsh. What Doug does is exercise a supreme effort of will, but even then he can't always be moral, and he often is not. It is the big boulder that he has to push uphill for the rest of his days (another reference to paving stones, along with of course the reference of the road to hell is paved with good intentions).

Thank you so much for reading!

Reviewer: Miranda Fave Signed [Report This]
Date: 27 Jan 2012 23:06 Title: Chapter 1

The five signs of weakness are just inspired, chilling and wow. That is an incredible hook and it really nails somehting about the cold character of the MU. It explains some too of the education of fear and obedience and of instilling the calculating, throat cutting universe that has borne of the MU. The various strategies to survive, to show no weakness, all promote the strength of the centralised power of the Empire because from such a young age so many young children are instilled with these tenets that make them wage war with one another in order to survive. Life is reduced to a matter of surivival and individual survival at that.

That little bit is a game changer for me in terms of thinking about the MU. It gives what should have been so readily obvious about the nature of the state and how it ever continued and survived and even came to be of that nature. Fantastic and fascinating and well done.

However, it is the lesson from the father - how he can love in the rivacy of his own family I think that shapes Doug some too - because he showed compassion in seeking to spare the others. Yes, it served his interests - or so that is how he dresses it up - but it seems he is a better man than his circumstances allow - as always that glimmer of hope and decency, that good intention, is what enriches any MU story because it raises the stakes and makes everything else around all the more grubby and horrible. Fantastic job.

Author's Response:

Thank you very much for your kind review!

When the MU is just dark, there's no contrast whatsoever, and then it's just, well, kinda flat. It's just a vehicle for sex and violence, not much better than PWP. So I wanted something more there.

The idea for the 5 signs is an admixture of the ten commandments in reverse (I had originally had an idea for ten or seven, but five really stuck out, plus I figured that would be what a child could remember easily), the 1984 ideals of "War is peace", "Freedom is slavery" etc. and, just, how do you get your overly sensitive child to win at the Hobbesian (the "life is short, brutal and nasty" quote is from Thomas Hobbes's book, The Leviathan)/Sparta/Lord of the Flies game that I imagine education in the MU really is like (one of these days, I swear I will write a Doug Hayes's School Days story).

But, as you noticed, a family kinda can't operate that way. Unless every woman is raped, how are children born? I decided, that's no good. Plus how would children be raised at all? It would end up being such a selfish society, it would essentially eat itself. I didn't want it to be something where extinction would happen in a generation, so families had to be exempt. Plus I wanted to throw out there Lena's problem - she's in a weak position within the family dynamic, so she ends up going along with what's happening. She has few chances to protest. I don't put her in the category of abuse victim. I don't see her that way. Rather, that she would fight back but she's ultimately subordinate. In my MU, women's roles are abhorrent, and Empress Hoshi doesn't do anything to improve them. For MU women in my fanon, a lot of the time, you're either a soldier or you make your living on your back.

For Jeremiah, it's probably a memory of earlier horrors, perhaps him being bullied at school and worrying that Doug would be a victim. But Jeremiah could have waited. Doug is, after all, underage. He could probably have delayed Doug's departure for a year. But then what? Doug would have probably grown softer. Or maybe the opposite would have happened, and he would have become bored and unruly. Hard to say. But Jeremiah, you're right, he's teaching Doug a hard lesson, that he's got to be tough and he's got to put aside childish things (a perversion of Corinthians 13:11). And Jeremiah knows that's got to be taught at some point, so it might as well be as soon as possible.

For Doug, as a child, it's obviously the demarcation between a semi-idyllic childhood (his toy is a velociraptor, after all) and harsh adulthood. There's a reason why the man taking him to Triton is named Brocklehurst - that's a character from the book Jane Eyre, and Doug's shipment to school is meant to evoke Jane being sent to Lowood. But I also wanted him to have hidden redeeming qualities. Doug's not just a mindless drone or a killing machine. He's learned a lot from Jeremiah, but he's also learned from Lena, and that's reflected in other stories I've written about him.

Egad, I can write novels about Doug. Wait, I already do.

Reviewer: Lil black dog Signed [Report This]
Date: 26 Jan 2012 19:42 Title: Chapter 1

Wow jespah!  A truly frightening look at the MU, and all the implications that go along with it.  I just wanted to cry with little Doug during the flashback scene; grab him and wrest him away from that cruel, insensitive life.  If you were going for indoctrination you achieved that, in spades.  I know I'll always remember the five signs of weakness...

Author's Response:

There has to be a reason, I figure, for the MU to be the way it is portrayed. And we can go with it as just sort of a soap opera version of the evil twin, or give it a back story. To my mind, it's Sparta, it's 1984, it's Caligula, it's Brave New World, it's everyone on steroids and distilled down to its essence, in a mockery of the ten commandments, are the five signs of weakness.

Thank you so much reviewing.

Reviewer: Mackenzie Calhoun Signed Liked [Report This]
Date: 26 Jan 2012 18:43 Title: Chapter 1

Quite the portrayal of the alternate universe, something I tend to ham up at the best of times. Interesting to see how children are brought up in that era, especially the 22nd Century. This is almost the literal version of the Mirror Universe Titles (for Mirror Darkly), planes bombing targets, submarines exploding the works. The sheer darkness and sometimes quiet brutality that lines its fabric.

Author's Response:

I figure that all has to start somewhere. Cruelty and greed, in the MU (I figure) is taught at Papa's knee. As for Mom, she's submissive - she's definitely got her part in all of this.

Thank you for your review!

Reviewer: Enterprise1981 Signed [Report This]
Date: 26 Jan 2012 03:52 Title: Chapter 1

The flashback scenes had me thinking that the Terran Empire raised their children the same way the ancient Spartans, while UFP is more similar to Athens. After reading this, it's no surprise MU humanity is that screwed when fathers teach their sons those kinds of lessons.

Just one question, is Doug Hayes the MU counterpart of the prime universe Major J. Hayes?

Author's Response:

YES - I was definitely thinking of Sparta and Athens, and then when you look at the Empire, it's Nero/Caligula/Tiberius/Livia all the way.

As for the other question, I'll send you a note.

Thank you for reviewing!

Reviewer: Ln X Signed Liked [Report This]
Date: 23 Jan 2012 00:17 Title: Chapter 1

Wow that was stomach churning, simply because little Doug had to hear such monstrous, barbaric and immoral things coming from his father. Nice one for making me nearly throw up! If this story can convey to me (and other readers) such a reaction then it is something pretty good.

This story makes me wonder if there is any hope left for the humans in the MU. They deserved to be occupied by the Klingon-Cardassian alliance for their (humans) immorality and sick vile ways.

Let me also say that this story is incredibly hard-hitting especially the child scene. Now I just got to remember to show no weakness...

Author's Response:

Thank you - I am here to make you ill. No, wait, that doesn't sound right.

When I read the subject for the challenge, my first thought was - indoctrination. I'm glad I've conveyed that.

For Doug, it's an amazing act of will for him to become the man who Lili wants him to be (Reversal). It really is a reversal for him - he can not only no longer be the same guy, he has to be the polar opposite.

I know that a lot of people write MU as a bit of a lark, that it's sexy and violent and the characters let their hair down, but the way I see it is - it SHOULD churn your stomach. It should feel like life in a minor key. Bad, bad mojo.

I'm glad I apparently got that across. Thank you for reading.

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