F. Paul Wilson and Matthew J. Costello

Warner Books / 336 pages / November 1997

ISBN: 0446604739

What is the fascination with identical twins? Are why is everyone so intrigued by dream analysis? (Even people who scorn it listen in when someone starts spilling their unconscious guts.) Both questions tie in to human beings’ unending search to understand the mind and memory. How does memory “work,” and shouldn’t it work precisely the same for people with identical DNA?

Mirage takes a radical and enthralling dive into the subject with a story of twins who couldn’t be more different — and what made them the people they are.

Julia Gordon is a research scientist working on mapping out the human mind. Her work has enabled observers to move through the “memoryscape” of unconscious test subjects. Now, she is going to be forced to use this experimental device to try to save a mind that is disintegrating.

Samantha Gordon is as opposite as a twin can be. She is the eternal suffering artist, charging through life with little idea of what she wants or where she is headed. Right now, she is heading toward brain death if no one can awaken her from the mysterious coma that holds her in endless sleep.

Stepping into her twin’s mind might be a lot easier if the two didn’t clash at every opportunity. Their relationship is too rocky to even be described as “estranged.” But, at the insistence of the uncle who raised them, Julia has returned to France to try to save her sister and discover what caused the coma.

Someone doesn’t want Julia to succeed. That someone is willing to go to deadly extremes to keep that very information hidden. Whatever is at the root of the tragedy is a secret worth killing for. No matter who gets in the way.

Wilson and Costello are pros at collaborating (Remember the FTL Newsflash on the SciFi Channel? That was them.), and this is a terrific example of the combination of their talents. The action in Mirage is divided between the reality of daily life and the representational wasteland that is Samantha’s memoryscape. Julia must walk the paths of both worlds, even as they deteriorate around her.

Remember, it is entitled Mirage, so suspect everything you see and question what you believe. Nothing in either landscape is as it appears. Don’t trust your perceptions and don’t trust anyone but yourself. To be on the safe side, don’t even trust yourself.

Just wander through the terrain like Julia does, marvelling at the shifting, mutating canvasses that pop up like street signs in an alien tongue. Dali, Van Gogh — so many of the masters contribute clues in this hunt; seeing them through new eyes is a part of the authors efforts to keep readers off balance. It works, as does the rest of Mirage.

Read it. And read Masque, if you haven’t already. If you think it’s fascinating how two minds that start out as one can function separately, just imagine what two separate minds can create when they come together.