© 2009 William Leisner
Somewhere, up ahead, were people in trouble, in need of help. Picard allowed himself a small, private smile. And the Enterprise is on its way.
Losing the Peace is the first TNG novel set after Destiny, and like A Singular Destiny it follows right behind David Mack's heels, covering the last great Borg War's aftermath. Singular Destiny provided a political mystery that leads into the Typhon Pact, but Losing the Peace is more personal, focusing on our characters as they attempt to pick up the pieces of their lives and those of their fellows in the wake so much destruction and death. Entire worlds are gone, and others have been hit badly: billions are dead, including friends and family of the Enterprise crew.
For whatever reason, I didn't expect much of the book: I didn't know the author and its cover art isn't exactly provocative. I regarded Greater than the Sum the same way before reading it, though, and like it Losing the Peace cast my preconceptions aside and stunned me. While Captain Picard and the Enterprise mount general search-and-rescue operations, Dr. Beverly Crusher travels to Pacifica to investigate claims of a humanitarian crisis related to the refugee camps there. While the work is disheartening enough -- disease is rampant among the refugees, and when the Enterprise finds precious little good news in its own searches -- the reaction of Federation worlds who did not taste the bitterness of war adds insult to injury. Refugees are seen a pesky burden by many, and the governor of Alpha Centaur is so disgruntled about having to divert resources to help distressed planets like Vulcan and Tellar that he threatens to lead his planet to secession. While the Federation survived this great Borg war, it may yet tear itself apart.
As difficult all that sounds, this is a good story -- one of the human spirit struggling to its feet in triumph not just over an outside evil, but over despair, bitterness, and desolation. Our heroes are thrown into the rubble but persist in picking themselves up and rooting around to find the good which remains. Losing the Peace is very much about the characters, and Leiser is as good as Beyer, Mack, and Bennett in that department, judging by this: dialogues is also strong, and the book touched me as a few books do. I laughed, I got teary-eyed, I stood to my feet in indignation and fell back down again in laughter at Picard's Kirk-like response to a diplomatic quandary.
Losing the Peace is an excellent conclusion to the Destiny story: readers who are interested should note that it, A Singular Destiny, and Full Circle unfold concurrently: Losing starts before either, and ends shortly after A Singular Destiny but before Full Circle.
The below image is an alternate bit of cover art, one considerably more varied and attractive.