It’s no secret that I revel in escapist reading from time to time. Between January of this year, and the beginning of July, I’ve been re-reading the Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Time To… series, a collection of nine novels, the first eight of which are in pairs, that span the time between the last two Next Gen movies (Insurrection and Nemesis).
The specific novels are:
STTNG: A Time to be Born, by John Vorholt
STTNG: A Time to Die, by John Vorholt
STTNG: A Time to Sow, by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
STTNG: A Time to Harvest, by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
STTNG: A Time to Love, by Robert Greenberger
STTNG: A Time to Hate, by Robert Greenberger
STTNG: A Time to Kill, by David Mack
STTNG: A Time to Heal, by David Mack
STTNG: A Time for War, A Time for Peace, by Keith R.A. DeCandido
You can read them individually, I suppose but they’re better savored as a whole collection, and while each of them have great moments, together they give a really plausible picture of how Starfleet reacted to the events of First Contact and Insurrection, explain why Data says in Nemesis that he has no feelings after two and a half films worth of emotion chip issues, and set-up the wedding of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, and their move to the U.S.S. Titan.
It’s no secret that I’m a great fan of Keith DeCandido’s work, so it should come as no surprise that his book, the last in the series, is my favorite. His take on the canon characters is always spot-on, but he also adds a political background – think “The West Wing in Space” – that I maintain would be an awesome series in and of itself (he revists the political aspect of the United Federation of Planets in a subsequent novel, Articles of the Federation).
Star Trek novels are my comfort-books, and I often read them when my day job has me so exhausted that I don’t have the brain power for reading deeper fiction, or writing my own stuff. There’s a ten-year span of TrekFic that I think of as the “DeCandido Years” where continuity was followed and all of the writers used some of the same original characters. These are, in my opinion, the best of the genre, and the A Time To… books are the best of the era.