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MIRROR FRIEND, MIRROR FOE came out in 1979. At StellarCon in Greensboro, N.C. that year, I met both authors, though I’m not sure they were promoting this one as the first Trek movie hadn’t been out long and I never actually saw them together the weekend. Asprin was holding court in a lounge the first time I saw him and every other time he was addressing large audiences, telling Isaac Asimov anecdotes and speaking on his relationship with Gordon Dickson, another guest at the Con, how they were drinking buddies for a year before he even knew he was a writer. Asprin was still in business at the time.

The story here is of a Japanese named Hosato(just one of three separate identities he maintained), a saboteur and a duelist, part of his family’s business going back seven hundred years.

He was on Gunbecker’s Planet to sabotage a business. Ravensteel had hired him to hit McCrae Enterprises. Both manufactured robots and controlled ninety percent of the market. Once one company, after the partners had had a falling out, it split into two companies and Ravensteel wanted the opposition put out of business. He got a flat fee for going in and a matching fee for every moth thwey were out of business up to a maximum of one hundred thousand credits.

His cover identity was as Hayama, a fencing instructor for James, the fifteen year old son of one of McCrae’s executives. The boy is a bit spoiled not interested, “Let security take care of it,” is a standard answer to almost everything. The security chief, a young woman named Sasha, is suspicious of him.

James’ father has stalled in his rise and is looking for a way to move up, planning a series of security robots. Told to drop it, not possible, he goes ahead anyway. Not possible for them to work security as they follow Asimov’s Laws of Robotics(they’re mentioned), he makes a fatal mistake in his programming and suddenly the robots are on a killing rampage. Anything human.

Now it’s just Hosato, Sasha, and the boy James to stop them before they can escape the planet.

The best I remember, this was supposed to be a series. The ending is certainly open for it. But no other volumes appeared. Maybe it didn’t sell enough. Certainly a fast moving readable title. Oh, and the character on the cover looks suspiciously familiar, eh?

For more forgotten books, as always, check out Patti Abbott at her blog, Pattinase.

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