Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Time to Hate

Star Trek: The Next Generation
A Time to Hate by Robert Greenberger
Published June 2004
Read September 12th 2018

Previous book (A Time To): A Time to Love

Next book (A Time To): A Time to Kill

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E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for A Time to Hate

From the back cover:
The recurring blood feuds between the Bader and the Dorset ended mysteriously a century ago when both races colonized the planet Delta Sigma IV. But, unknown until now, it was a reaction to a naturally occurring gas that led to their harmonious existence... a reaction that would eventually mean certain death for the planet's inhabitants. What the Enterprise crew believed was a cure for the population -- a treatment introduced into Delta Sigma IV's environment by Kyle Riker, a man at odds with his son, Commander William Riker -- has instead triggered worldwide carnage, as long-suppressed aggression and hostility are suddenly and violently unleashed. 
Caught in a world on the brink of self-destruction, Captain Picard -- a man still waging his own personal battle for redemption in the eyes of his commanding officers -- must somehow find a way to resolve this catastrophic event and save his crew, even as the implications of his actions may ultimately doom an entire race... 

My thoughts:

Sometimes, all of the options to solve a particular situation are bad, and the person making the decision must choose the lesser of two evils. This is the dilemma facing Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise in A Time to Hate, the conclusion to Robert Greenberger's duology that started in A Time to Love, and the sixth book overall in the A Time To series.

On planet Delta Sigma IV, the violence gripping the two species who live there is worsening. The Bader and the Dorset, historically enemies, came together a century earlier on this colony world and flourished, exhibiting a level of cooperation unprecedented among the two races. Unfortunately, Dr. Crusher has discovered the alarming truth: the cooperation between the Bader and the Dorset was brought about by exposure to a gas that occurs in the atmosphere of Delta Sigma IV, a gas that is also unfortunately responsible for a shortening of both species' lifespans. Captain Picard must decide whether or not to allow both species to revert to their "natural" state, the likely result of which would be the two sides wiping each other out, or engineer the gas so that the life-shortening effects are eliminated while retaining the "sedative" effects that led to the peace between the Bader and the Dorset. In the end, Picard orders Crusher to reformulate the gas so that it retains the sedative effects but no longer kills the inhabitants of Delta Sigma IV, a decision that is obviously a difficult one.

Kyle and Will Riker spend much of this novel together, adding much depth to their relationship as father and son.

The strength of this story lies with the characters, rather than the plot elements, in my opinion. We get to see Will Riker interacting with his father and trying to come to terms with the kind of man that Kyle Riker is. Sadly, we don't get to see how that relationship will progress in the future as Kyle is killed while saving Will's life towards the end of the novel. This has a profound effect on Will, and I have to admit that it was something I did not see coming. This part of the story was very well-written, and I found myself experiencing shock that Greenberger took this step.

At the end of the novel, we see Riker proposing to Deanna Troi, setting up the marriage we see in Star Trek Nemesis. It was nice to have the dots connected and see where this development came from. During their whirlwind tour of Delta Sigma IV, the Rikers were apparently in a place where Will was able to purchase an engagement ring. It seems odd to me that during this crisis he would be able to go into an alien jewelry store and buy a ring for Deanna while accompanying his father (who is a fugitive from the Delta Sigma IV government) without arousing any kind of suspicion, but sure. I'll go with it.

The other major character development we see in A Time to Hate is the deepening of a rift between Picard and Crusher. Beverly has been offered a position as head of Starfleet Medical, and while she has discussed it with other members of the crew, she hasn't brought it to Jean-Luc at any point. Picard has, of course, learned of the offer, and is frustrated that Crusher hasn't seen fit to confide in him. This was frustrating to read, as this breakdown of communication will obviously lead to greater problems between the two of them. While it was sad to read about, it struck me as eminently realistic and, sadly, something that happens often in the real world. Healthy communication is important, people, in any relationship!

While I was slightly disappointed in A Time to Love, I found myself enjoying A Time to Hate much more. In the former novel, I felt that too much time was dedicated to setting things up and treading water, seemingly to stretch the story out. Things are paced much better in this novel, and I found myself much more invested in both the main plot and the character work in A Time to Hate.

Final thoughts:

An improvement over the previous novel, A Time to Hate does some much-needed character advancement, both between Will and his father, and among the rest of the crew. The overall plot with Delta Sigma IV still felt somewhat rote, but the dilemma that faced Picard added a compelling element to that story. I'm interested to see if there will be any fallout from his decision in the remaining novels in the A Time To series. 3.5/5.

More about A Time to Hate:

Also by Robert Greenberger:

A Time To...

My next read:

My much-delayed video review of Star Trek: Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow is up next!

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