Another leg of my journey through the Star Trek universe took me to a Next Generation novel, Losing the Peace. Taking place immediately after the final Borg battle and right before the Synthesis story in the Titan series, Losing the Peace explores more than the hard science that many have grown to accept from Star Trek novels. Instead, it dips deeply into the emotional turmoil that the survivors of a great war often experience – namely survivors guilt.
In Losing the Peace, author William Leisner explores the concept of survivors guilt in quite some detail. His range of understanding the phenomena is truly unique – applying it to the psyches of alien races from the Star Trek universe.
In the opening we find Captain Picard and his wife Doctor Beverly Crusher on shore leave in France, visiting the Picard estates and trying to come to grips with the great loss of life brought about the recent conflict with the Borg. Even with Picard’s certainty that the Borg are no more, he and his crew must face the after math of that battle and all the potential for conflict that come from surviving such a devastating war. The pregnant Crusher comforts her husband but is called away on her own mission to aid in the care of refugees from the destroyed planets and colonies of the United Federation of Planets.
With out revealing too much for those who may be behind, as I am, on the Next Gen story line, we find many of our favorite characters from the Next Gen, DS9 and even Voyager series scattered throughout the galaxy dealing with the survivors guilt. There is brief mention of favorites like Admiral Janeway, Captain Dax, even Wesley and Seven-of-Nine, but the meat of the story centers around the emotional journeys of Crusher and Lt. Jasminder Choudhury.
Flashing back to Crusher’s earlier years with her first husband, Jack Crusher who died while serving under Picard on his first command the Stargazer, she uses her own understanding of survivors guilt to aid the refugees of Risa and help bring a peace to the host planet that is giving them safe harbor after the storm. Choudhury, the lone survivor of her family from Deneva (with a reference to the TOS episode Operation Annihilate). Her anger and guilt lead her to make irrational decisions, but ultimately with the help of Worf she is able to come to terms with the loss and accept the legacy her family left her.
Unusual for a sci-fi novel, especially a Star Trek novel, I found myself reaching for the tissues while reading this book. Not just in one part, but throughout the story. The emotional level of this book is amazing. You can feel the guilt, the anger, even the joy and acceptance that Leisner’s portrayal of these characters brings to the story.
You’d better understand what is going on if you you’ve been reading the books in order, but Leisner gives enough background to catch up the reader that the novel can stand alone. I know I wish I had been reading the books in the right order, but that’s because I am stickler for continuity.