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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

7 Comments

  1. Ununnilium
    August 16, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Excellent points all around. I note that the trope showed up before this in comics, with Justice League of America's Earth-3 appearing in 1964. (Of course, that just makes me want to do a similar blog project with that title. Must resist…)

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  2. Adam Riggio
    August 16, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

    You make a good point that Star Trek didn't have precedence for this in sci-fi generally. But Mirror Mirror probably made the most culturally visible and influential version of the evil parallel universe trope.

    And we know it because of the extremely visible way Star Trek is given a salute in every one of these stories using the same trope: the evil goatee.

    Or at least some other form of facial modification of a key character. Doctor Who did it with the Brigadier's eyepatch in Inferno. South Park did it with the kind Cartman's goatee. What other examples are there that I'm not thinking of right now?

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  3. Ununnilium
    August 17, 2013 @ 5:44 am

    Oh, yeah – this is the most culturally relevant version. Evil double = goatee has become a standard trope, even though Mirror Spock isn't actually evil. I note that Mystery Science Theater 3000 went all-out in its version, using goatees, eyepatches, and spangly gold vests with no shirt underneath.

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  4. rayna
    August 18, 2013 @ 5:46 am

    In Jerome Bixby’s original story outline, McCoy had the beard– not Spock. Kirk beams into the parallel universe alone, finding the other Federation was not evil but less advanced technologically, and the other dimension affects him with fainting spells. The alternate Enterprise crew helps him to defeat the Tharn (not Halkan) empire. Also Kirk was married, to the equivalent of Nurse Chapel (from The Star Trek Compendium).

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  5. Josh Marsfelder
    August 18, 2013 @ 8:14 am

    I must say I prefer the version that made it to air.

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  6. rayna
    August 20, 2013 @ 1:14 am

    One other point, fwiw…Bixby’s first story outline had Kirk introducing phaser technology to the parallel Federation, so they could conquer the Tharn. The aired version is almost the opposite, with Kirk urging ‘mirror’ Spock to make his Federation refrain from war, in the transporter scene that “crackles with energy” as you say.

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  7. Adam Riggio
    August 20, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

    That would have made an absolutely terrible episode. Kirk goes to a parallel universe and enlightens them by teaching them better ways to kill things. That's an insult to everything progressive that Star Trek fandom came to see in the show, a betrayal of the values Star Trek eventually grew into.

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