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The Trek Nation - A Time To Love, A Time To Hate

A Time To Love, A Time To Hate

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at June 27, 2004 - 5:37 AM GMT

Title: Star Trek: A Time to Love
Author: Robert Greenberger
Release Date: June 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-6285-8

Title: Star Trek: A Time to Hate
Author: Robert Greenberger
Release Date: July 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-6289-0


The A Time to... series of novels have been a bit underwhelming thus far but in A Time to Love and A Time to Hate the series begins to come into its own with the strongest pair of novels yet. It doesn’t require non-stop action and excitement to provide an absorbing tale, although both these novels have their share of tension and conflict. Robert Greenberger takes the simple and straightforward approach of letting the characters be the center of the story, which makes for an extremely rewarding read.

Jointly colonized a hundred years ago by two violent races previously hostile to each other, the Bader and the Dorset, the Federation member world Delta Sigma IV has always been a model of interspecies cooperation. When it was discovered that a naturally occurring gas is shortening the inhabitant’s life spans it seemed as if Starfleet Medical had found a counter agent. But someone has seriously miscalculated and the Enterprise-E is assigned to investigate when mysterious outbreaks of violence seem to be linked to the treatment.

To complicate matters, Kyle Riker, William Riker’s estranged father, the man who headed the Federation delegation working to study and resolve the medical issues of the Bader and Dorset, is missing and he aims to stay that way. The situation quickly dissolves from bad to calamitous as escalating violence begins to spread across the planet and the governing council proves to be incapable of making any decisions. Called upon to provide everything from medical aid and security to damage control and repair teams for an entire planet whose population is hostile to each other and to them, the crew of the Enterprise soon realize that they can’t hold the planet together for long.

Knowing they are on their own, Beverly Crusher works frantically but when she does unravel the mystery behind what has been triggering the long-suppressed aggression of the Bader and Dorset, the answer just provokes more questions. Speed is of the essence and finding a solution must take priority, and when a solution is found it is far from ideal. To save the populace of Delta Sigma IV, Picard must also condemn them.

As A Time to Love opens Captain Picard, and by extension his crew, are still laboring under the shadow of their encounter with the “demon ship” (A Time to be Born, A Time to Die). Now considered a liability by many at Starfleet Command this latest is just another in a string of what one Admiral called “lousy assignments” meant to try to nudge Picard toward retirement. Beverly Crusher is contemplating a return to Starfleet Medical and Riker and Troi have started to give serious consideration to their own futures.

Given everything that has gone on in the characters lives over the course of the first four novels of this series it is refreshing to have Greenberger focus on the characters and their relationships with each other. It gives the reader an opportunity to really get to know each character a bit more at this point in their lives; the years have brought changes to them all. The years have also meant new crew members, characters we don’t know as well, and these two novels also provide an opportunity to get to know several characters like security chief Christine Vale a whole lot better.

There is a lot going on in A Time to Love and A Time to Hate. Several sub plots weave themselves together into one cohesive whole. A Time to Love starts out a bit slowly as each of the numerous character arches are established but once that is accomplished the story begins to pick up momentum. One of the strongest sub plots is Will Riker's hunt for his father, that storyline supplies much of the mystery and intrigue but also builds on everything we already know about their relationship. Fans of the William Riker and Deanna Troi romance will no doubt be satisfied by the direction their lives take in these novels.

In case I’ve given you the impression that the story is all about the characters let me assure you that these two novels aren’t without action sequences, although primarily it is hand-to-hand combat and the majority of the action takes place in A Time to Hate. As you read you also begin to get an inkling that there is something more than meets the eye going on with regards to the Bader and Dorset’s medical issues but the major plot twist in the final pages of A Time to Hate still comes as a complete and shocking surprise.

A Time to Love and A Time to Hate finally have this series heading in the right direction. After all, isn’t that what drew most of us to Star Trek in the first place, the characters? No matter how great the adventure, who cares if you aren’t interested in the people who are having that adventure?


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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.