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The Mirror Maze
by James P. Hogan

Reviewed by Raedom
Posted November 18, 2003

What is your taste in fiction? Do you like science-fiction? Or perhaps political thrillers? Maybe you like a healthy dose of political philosophy. Whatever your tastes, you will likely enjoy this book.

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The intricate plot of Mirror Maze revolves around Mel Shears and Stephanie Carne. Stephanie is a physicist, working for a private company doing development on a hybrid fission-fusion generation project. At the opening of the book, her look-alike sister Eva is murdered by a hit-woman, and the death is made to look a suicide. Most accept this explanation since Stephanie has been grieving the earlier death of her lover. Stephanie goes into hiding, contacting only Mel Shears, whom she has known since their days together at college, and who was once involved with Eva. Together, they piece together the mystery surrounding the death of her lover, Brett, who was killed in an accident when his car plunged into the Pacific Ocean. His body was never recovered, and it's no spoiler to tell you that his death was faked and he has been kidnapped by hostile forces because of his knowledge of the software programming of a new space-defense weapon, uncannily similar to the "Star Wars" weaponry of the Reagan administration.

Further digging by the two turns up the fact that Eva, ostensibly working as a public relations person for the new Constitutional Party, which has just won the presidential election, was actually doing undercover work for the Party among its opponents. She was also working clandestinly for a man named Dave Fenner, who is an agent for an unnamed government agency. Stephanie is talked into taking Eva's place in all these endeavors.

Through flashbacks, we learn of the early relationship among Stephanie and Brett, Mel and Eva, Mel and Brett, and, yes, Dave Fenner and Eva. There are so many twists and turns to the plot that it's difficult to synopsize. Suffice it to say that there is a suprise on nearly every page, including the identity of the person who recruited Brett to become an apparently Soviet spy. (The novel was written in 1989 when the Soviets were still perceived as a threat. This makes the novel a little dated, but does not detract from enjoying a densely plotted story.) The Soviets, KGB, party leaders, and the Red Army also figure prominently in the convolutions of the story.

One of the things I found particularly noteworthy is Hogan's attention to detail. Every character, even minor ones, are extensively described, down to their facial features, hair, and even the color and style of their clothing; and the physical surroundings of each scene is detailed enough that you feel that you are actually there, and that you would know these characters if you met them on the street.

Just as enjoyable, for me, is the political discussions that ensue among the various characters. Hogan is an unabashed libertarian (even though British), and there is much he espouses through his characters, much as Robert Heinlein was wont to do, that I (a libertarian conservative) found that I could completely accept. There was also much that was deeply offensive to me. Liberals reading this book will likely have the same reaction, but will disagree on which parts are laudable and with which parts they disagree. There also seems to be a certain amount of paranoia in his exposition; for instance, he has the extreme left and the extreme right joining forces to defeat the Constitutional Party, and failing that, to cause it embarrassment, with both factions secretly guided by a shadowy group whose only interest is the power they can wield behind the scenes. I never could determine if Hogan actually believed this to be true, or if it was just another of the many facets of this twisting, turning tale. It matters not which is the case, it's an enjoyable story in any event, and I highly recommend it.



Related Links:
James Hogan's Official Website


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James P. Hogan


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