Volume 16, Number 3, Summer, 1998

The Mirror Maze

By James P. Hogan

Bantam Books
Reviewed by Fran Van Cleave

Jim Hogan has a knack for technological thrillers, and the best thing about them is that they’re no Clancyesque paens to government, but explicitly Libertarian. The action moves quickly, the philosophy goes down smooth — with a kick like Irish whiskey.

In this 1989 novel, Brett Vorlund and Melvin Shears are room-mates at the University of Florida when they meet Stephanie and Eva Carne, look-alike sisters with fiercely independent personalities. Eva does volunteer work for the Constitutionals, a newly formed political party based on the philosophy of freedom, and Stephanie is studying nuclear physics.

Brett and Stephanie hit it off immediately. Shears is attracted by Eva’s good looks, but ends up falling in love with Eva the free-thinker. Freedom can be a painful process, even for bright young men like Mel. The two break up, and after graduation, Eva goes to work for the Constitutionals full-time.

Their candidate, Henry Newell, is elected to the presidency by a landslide, but Eva scarcely has time to rejoice. Stephanie’s husband Brett is missing and presumed dead, and shortly after that, Eva is murdered by an assassin. But Stephanie was the real target, and now Stephanie must assume her sister’s identity, embarking on a roller-coaster ride of triple-agent espionage, double-dealing, billionaire financiers, and Cold War theories turned topsy-turvey. (Hint: Eva was not just answering phones at Constitutional headquarters.)

Shears is enlisted in Stephanie’s charade. As Eva’s former boyfriend, he provides cover and moral support. But the more he learns about the mysterious Dr. Oberwald who involved Brett in the satellite defense program, and the strange coalition of left and right that have teamed up to destroy the Newell presidency, the more he suspects that the standard left/right dichotomy is an illusion—a mirror game, if you will.

Things come to a head with the vice-president-elect’s visit to the Middle East to talk non-interventionist policy with the Egyptians. The coalition’s plot to destroy the Constitutionals with planted drugs turns out to be another mirror maze, a screen for a truly dastardly plot with global implications.

And speaking of global, Hogan has the best line yet on the stupidity of one-world government: “How can you vote with your feet when there’s nowhere to go?”

In case you haven’t read this book yet, I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you how all this is resolved. But I promise you it’s a page-turner, a stunning piece of work.

All trademarks and copyrights property of their owners.
Creative Commons License
Prometheus, the newsletter of the Libertarian Futurists Society, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.