Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Losing the Peace

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Losing the Peace by William Leisner
Published July 2009
Read March 19th 2020

Previous book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Titan: Over a Torrent Sea
Next book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Titan: Synthesis

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Spoilers ahead for
Losing the Peace!

From the back cover:
Fortune has smiled on Lieutenant Jasminder Choudhury, chief of security on the U.S.S. Enterprise. She has survived. But her homeworld, Deneva, one of the planets targeted in the massive Borg invasion, has not. The entire surface has been wiped clean of everything, killing anyone who did not evacuate and rendering the planet uninhabitable. Choudhury is left to wonder whether her family was one of the displaced. Or are they all gone forever? 
The Enterprise is just one ship, and Jasminder Choudhury is just one officer, yet her story is being repeated over and over across the galaxy. Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons haunt the space ways, seeking comfort, looking for someplace safe, somewhere, anywhere to find solace. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is ordered to do everything he can to rescue and if need be to recover the lost souls from the Borg invasion. 
For the first time in generations, citizens of the Federation know want, uncertainty, and fear. Bloodied yet unbowed, the Federation stands on the edge of a precipice. The captain of the Enterprise finds himself in the unenviable position of wondering whether it is true that those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace. 

My thoughts:

The galaxy is in turmoil. The recent Borg invasion has devastated many worlds throughout the Federation and the surrounding powers. Billions of lives have been lost, and the traumatic effects are keenly felt by both governments and individuals. With all that has transpired, it would be foolish to think that everything would be back to normal for the Federation simply because the Borg threat has been neutralized. Losing the Peace is about picking up the pieces and licking the wounds inflicted by the Borg conflict. While it would not serve the overall story to remain mired in the post-invasion doldrums forever, it is necessary to take a breath and address the massive damage inflicted on the Federation. Ultimately, Losing the Peace is the first step in moving forward from Destiny, and the story rightfully takes its time in doing so.

The Federation is hurting, and part of the Enterprise's assignment is to relieve some of those pains. The state of the Federation mirrors that of the characters in the novel, such as Jasminder Choudhury. Her family was lost in the Borg invasion, and she is understandably suffering. She is but one of countless people whose lives have been completely upended by the invasion, not to mention the billions who are now displaced due to the loss of their homeworlds. I appreciated the time the book takes with Choudhury's story, as well as the role Worf plays in it. As has been a hallmark of this period of Trek literature, Worf is shown to be much more than the hot-headed security chief he was often portrayed as during the TNG days. A thoughtful and caring partner for Choudhury is a role that is fitting for the man Worf has become.

Worf has experienced a great deal of growth since his early days aboard the Enterprise-D.

The best Star Trek (in my opinion) deals with issues that resonate with the current day, and Losing the Peace is no exception. The refugee crisis experienced by the Federation has obvious parallels to the ongoing and worsening refugee crises we are going through here in the 21st century. Many of us can't imagine experiencing something that completely upends our way of life (although the events of recent years may have done a bit to disabuse some of that notion). Most refugees from war-torn regions or victims of environmental disasters likely didn't imagine that they would find themselves in that situation either, but end up in horrible circumstances through no fault of their own. Written back in 2009, with each passing year, the message of Losing the Peace becomes more and more relevant.

Leading the charge to assist the refugees on the planet Pacifica is Dr. Beverly Crusher. I appreciated the novel's focus on her character, as oftentimes she is relegated to background status, especially in the TNG films. In Losing the Peace, she works alongside Miranda Kadohata assisting the refugees with their medical needs, and ultimately advocating for them in the face of a hostile populace. We even get a few flashbacks to earlier in her career, fleshing out her character in ways I wasn't expecting. 

Dr. Crusher coordinates relief efforts on Pacifica, and we get more insight into her character than I anticipated.

The other main plot in the novel has Captain Picard dealing with the president of Alpha Centauri, who is threatening to withdraw his world from the Federation over the refugee issue. Picard's solution is one that I desperately wish would work in the real world. He essentially kidnaps the president, bringing him aboard the Enterprise to witness first-hand the plight of displaced Federation citizens. This causes the president to have a change of heart and open his world to the refugees. If only compassion were able to be elicited from world leaders in this way today!

Final thoughts:

Much like Keith DeCandido's A Singular DestinyLosing the Peace by William Leisner serves as connective tissue between the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy and what comes next. Readers may be disappointed that there are no huge battles, no amazing feats of Starfleet derring-do, but to me, this is a strength of Losing the Peace. With a focus on the characters and their trauma, this novel is a thoughtful and poignant look at issues that are relevant to today's world. I feel like it would be easy for Losing the Peace to be forgotten among the larger "event" novels, but dismissing this story would be a mistake. The novel has a lot to say, and does a very good job of crafting a tale that becomes more relevant with each passing year.

More about Losing the Peace:

Also by William Leisner:

My next read:

From 2020: Christopher L. Bennett's Star Trek: The Original Series: The Higher Frontier.

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