The fifth book in the “A Time To” Star Trek: TNG series.
Publication year: 2004
Page count: 279 and an excerpt from the next book
Publisher: Pocket Books
The story continues right from the previous book, A Time to Love.
Enterprise-E and her crew are on planet Delta Sigma IV where two species, the Bader and the Dorset, have lived in peace for decades and now have become aggressive towards both each other and Starfleet personnel on the planet. The people are rioting and fighting, and Picard sends his security people to try to pacify the situation but the Starfleet personnel are vastly outnumbered. Also, the Bader and Dorset are not used to aggressive behavior and so they don’t have effective local police forces.
Doctor Crusher has found out that the reason why the two aggressive people have been living so peacefully side-by-side, is that a plant life on the planet is drugging them; subduing their violent tendencies and also their creativity. Crusher is working on a cure and wondering if she has a right to change a whole species. She’s also (still) thinking about leaving the Enterprise and taking position as the head of Starfleet Medical again.
Kyle Riker, Will’s father, has been on the planet but disappeared when the violence started. Will searched for him during the previous book and has now found him. However, Kyle doesn’t have answers for his son. Kyle is determined to find the man who started the violence and he also wants to solve the whole problem himself. He convinces Will to join him. Will is pondering about his own life, a possible promotion and his possible future with Troi.
In addition to the regular crew, Engineer Anh Hoang is significant POV character. She’s struggling to continue with her life after her family died in the Dominion War.
Unfortunately, the plot depends on people not using standard Starfleet technology and behaving otherwise stupidly. Kyle has a way to block Enterprise’s sensors from tracking himself and Will. Security personnel constantly rush into burning buildings to look for people rather than use tricorders and transporters. They also engage in hand-to-hand combat rather than use phasers. There’s a lot of repetition and the two books could have easily cut down to one. Kyle’s actions also don’t make sense. He’s supposed to be a tactician and yet he thinks that he can alone solve problems that the whole Enterprise crew can’t.
Unfortunately, the Bader and Dorset weren’t very sympathetic and so their problem isn’t engaging. They blame Federation constantly, even when a crowd of them can see that the people bombing the hospital are they own people and not the Starfleet security officers who are trying to *rescue* people from the burning hospital. Maybe their intelligence and cognitive abilities were over ridden by the aggression, or something. Their leaders are a joke who don’t get anything done and about halfway through the book I was ready to leave them to their fate.
(The repetition actually worked in my favor this time because I had a very stressful time at work when I was reading this and had trouble concentrating.)