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New Release: Mirror, Mirror by Christina Engela

South African female sci-fi

A few months ago I published two novellas – “Duck Blind” and “The Next Room”, but over the last little while or so it became apparent to me and to my publisher that since these two stories are really so closely related I should wrap them up tightly in one bundle! That bundle is “Mirror, Mirror” – which I’m very pleased to announce, was released during the night!

Brandon Mullins who is responsible for unleashing Moon Books Publishing on the world, asked me to put both novellas into one book – which makes more sense really, especially where both stories run so close to a central point that they contrast against each other! They are, after all, really one larger story – which is how “Mirror, Mirror” came to be!

Since “Duck Blind” and “The Next Room” are now part of “Mirror, Mirror” it just wouldn’t feel right to sell it alongside the separate versions of the individual stories – so we’ve discontinued the two separate titles altogether – and as of now, the only place you’ll find them at all, is in “Mirror, Mirror”.

What’s the story about?

Briefly, “Mirror, Mirror” is a story of opposites, of two conflicting simultaneous versions of reality coming into contact and interacting with each other.

It starts off with one man – Charlie Branson, who is unhappy with his lot in life, which is to pretend to be the captain of a luxury deep space passenger cruise ship – and which is really just a very expensive, extremely realistic earthbound simulator set. His job is to pretend to be the captain of the ship, to complete the illusion of a functioning space liner cruising the simulated cosmos for weeks at a time while the wealthy passengers lap it all up. It’s 2025 and starships don’t exist yet – the starship Freedom is a kind of closed hotel pretending to be a space ship…

Charlie Branson is unhappy because its so wonderful pretending to be a success that he can almost forget his train-wreck of a life that preceded this particular job, and spends all his time portraying himself as a playboy and ladies man living it up as a real starship captain – and wishing it could all just be real! For Charlie, it becomes something almost like a prayer!

Meanwhile, in a rather different alternative reality, a man called Andy Niksn – who looks uncannily like Charlie – is unhappy as well, but for very different reasons. Here it’s 2773 and Andy really is the captain of an interstellar cruise liner called Freedom! He isn’t as in love with his job as Charlie – and he’s in an uncomfortable relationship with one of his colleagues – one that Charlie always had the hots for – and to make matters worse, his best friend has been killed in an accident, leaving him in a deeply miserable state. Andy longs for simpler, happier times.

Fortunately for Charlie and Andy, someone overhears their thoughts – a traveling alien with the ability to exist across different dimensions simultaneously, steps in.

One morning, both wake up in opposite realities… Charlie in Andy’s world of 2773, and Andy in Charlie’s reality. The story explores how they cope and fight to understand what has happened, and how to relate to the people the encounter there, who seem strange and yet so very familiar – especially those who happened to be dead in one reality and alive in the other.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Things aren’t always as they seem. Neither was Charlie Branson – or Andy Niksn.

Outwardly, Charlie appeared to be the successful, respected, somewhat over-paid Captain of a commercial space liner.

In truth, it was 2025 – space liners did not yet exist, and the space liner Freedom was really just a very expensive set – a fancy simulator for wealthy clients the company took on simulated cruises into deep space to forget the real world for a while, to get away from it all – and they loved them for it!

In an atmosphere where people were locked away from reality for weeks at a time, and cos-playing and roleplaying redefined ‘normal’, telling fact and fantasy apart became more complicated than expected. For those who preferred the pleasant escape from the harsh realities of life outside, like Charlie, wishing it could all just be real became something almost like a prayer.

Andy Niksn, by contrast, was the very successful respected and somewhat over-paid Captain of an actual commercial space liner in the year 2773. Trouble was, Andy felt trapped! He was in a relationship – a dead-end partnership that had no future and promised both even less happiness. On top of that, his friend Jim had died recently, leaving Andy in the darkest place he’d ever been – and he didn’t mean space!

Andy wished he could just wake up to a different reality where everything could make sense again! For Andy, this too became something almost like a prayer!

As it turned out, someone heard them.

The answer wasn’t quite what they expected.

“Mirror, Mirror” was born out of the merger of two novellas: “Duck Blind” and “The Next Room”. Both are completely original works I wrote consecutively through December 2019 and January 2020, and released in eBook form as a novella in February 2020. Both were released in their original form as novellas on the same day – in keeping with the synchronous theme of both stories.

Once I’d written “Duck Blind”, which describes the misadventures of Charlie Branson – a man from 2025 who suddenly finds himself aboard a real space cruise ship in 2773 and being mistaken for the Captain of the ship, Andy Niksn – I immediately pondered what might have happened to Andy Niksn, being a real space captain from 2773 who wakes up aboard a giant space-ship simulator hotel on Earth in 2025! I plunged straight into writing “The Next Room” which focused on that more mundane reality – which wasn’t quite so mundane as it turned out, after all!  In both stories I explored the relationships and experiences of the other mirror-opposites of the characters in each story, which led to a number of awkward moments for the characters!

Both “Duck Blind” and “The Next Room” together tell both sides of the same story from the perspective of a different set of the same group of characters in different dimensions and times! Together, or read in sequence, they’re a story of opposites and similarities – and it was quite a challenge to complete – and one I’m immensely proud of!

Until next time, keep reading!


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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2020.

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