Oaths by Glenn Hauman
Published May 2002
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation No Surrender in 2003.
Read September 24th 2015
Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #15: Past Life
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #17: Foundations, Part I
|Original e-book cover
Spoilers ahead for Oaths and the rest of the Corps of Engineers series!
From the back cover:
Dr. Elizabeth Lense has had a fine career. She was first in her class at Starfleet Medical - ahead of the genetically enhanced Julian Bashir -- and a hero during the Dominion War, and is now the chief medical officer on the USS da Vinci. But Captain David Gold notices that her performance has not been up to snuff. She's been listless and stressed, and is delegating most of her responsibilities to the da Vinci's Emergency Medical Hologram.
Her malaise couldn't possibly come at a worse time, because a virus has erupted on Sherman's Planet -- and the planet's entire population, as well as the crew of the da Vinci, are now marked for death by the virulent plague!
Can Lense find her way out of depression to determine a cure? And will the cure be worse than the disease?
Over the past few instalments of the S.C.E. series, something has been going on with Dr. Elizabeth Lense. She has been acting detached from her duties, and has turned over much of her day-to-day responsibilities to the da Vinci's EMH. In Oaths, we finally learn that Dr. Lense is suffering from some pretty severe depression, just in time for a major medical crisis to develop.
|Dr. Lense deals with depression and anxiety in Oaths.
On Sherman's Planet (see "The Trouble With Tribbles"), a plague is running rampant through the population, and an away team from the da Vinci is also infected. Dr. Lense, who is having regular counselling sessions with Captain Gold, must work around the clock to devise a treatment or a cure to the plague.
We learn a lot about Lense and the fallout to her career following the revelation of Dr. Julian Bashir's genetically engineered nature. Lense was valedictorian in their graduating class, while Bashir came in second. With genetic manipulation being banned in the Federation, investigators focused on how Lense could have come out ahead of Bashir, not realizing that he had purposely gotten a question on the final wrong so as not to come in first in his class. That undermining of Lense's confidence, combined with the loss of many of her friends and crewmates during the Dominion War, caused her to spiral down into a deep depression.
Oaths was an interesting character study of someone about whom we haven't learned a lot yet. The counselling sessions are depicted in a unique way, with transcripts from Captain Gold's logs rather than in a standard narrative style. It is good to see a Star Trek story dealing with real problems like depression. It is an important topic that doesn't get enough play in my opinion.
Lense's ultimate solution to the crisis on Sherman's Planet is an interesting one as well, especially given her history with the genetic engineering debate. Also, I do have to say that characterizing being born on Sherman's Planet as a serious birth defect was inspired!
A good character study for Dr. Lense. I really admire the authors of S.C.E. for carrying this story through the past few instalments, and I suppose that ultimately, credit should be given to the editors. The payoff here was fascinating, and featured the exploration of a topic that should get more attention. Depression is a serious issue, and deserves to be explored with sensitivity so as to eliminate the stigma surrounding it and other mental illnesses. I rather enjoyed this story, and while it isn't the best that S.C.E. has to offer, it is definitely a worthy entry in the series.
Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:
Time for a new release once again! This time, a story returning to the classic era of Pike's tenure as captain of the Enterprise; a young Spock is the central focus of Child of Two Worlds by Greg Cox.