On Star Trek: The Next Generation, when Picard became Locutus and helped slay thousands at Wolf 359, that double episode was followed up with the episode Family, in which he travels to France to spend some time with his brother, of whom he does not get along with. William Leisner’s Losing The Peace is that kind of follow-up, giving the readers a moment to breathe after the epic events of Star Trek: Destiny.
If you were to stumble upon this book as a casual Star Trek fan, you’d find yourself quite confused. What, we liberated the entire Borg collective throughout the galaxy? Really? No, really? Well, yes, that really happened. And now we’re all in on the litverse. It’s obvious at this point that there will be no more self-contained Star Trek books.
Losing The Peace offers some nuanced thoughts regarding what might happen in the aftermath of a huge war. We spend some time with a Risian, whose planet the Borg destroyed, while she was handing out cocktails on a cruise ship. Picard is just happy to the Borg voices in his head gone, while Geordi reconnects with his sister. Original litverse characters get their time as well. Choudhury struggles to align her deep spiritual beliefs with all the death and destruction, while Chen finds out her mother has breathed her last breath and her deadbeat dad is now back on the scene.
These scenes are pleasing, and help lay the new foundations. The new normal. This is the new Enterprise crew.
But the primary focus of the book is a refugee crisis on Crusher — a heavily pregnant Crusher — and the role she plays helping with the refugee crisis on the water planet Pacifica. Yes, that’s right folks, we rarely treat refugees very well. Queue the complaints: The book is preachy, is too SJW. Too woke. Better go make an hour-long video on YouTube ranting about it…
Some people, in online reviews, complained that the main story thread was preachy. Trek has always been a franchise that held its moral and ethical head high in the air. Voyager is thrust into a seven-year journey through the delta quadrant all because Janeway put the lives of an alien race ahead of herself and her crew. Picard refuses to unleash a deadly pathogen on the Borg because he didn’t believe it morally correct to wipe out a race using chemical warfare. So if you have a problem with this book, maybe Star Wars is more the sci-fi franchise for you.
Leisner has a good grasp of character. It was nice spending some time exploring Crusher’s backstory; specifically her time after the death of her husband, but before joining Enterprise as the chief medical officer. I’ve always felt Crusher was an under-utilised character, so it’s nice to see her front and centre in the story.
We also say goodbye to Kadohata in this book. She was always a bit of a blah character to me, and I don’t think anyone cried too many tears when Leisner wrote her out of the series. They’ve now replaced most of the original characters introduced early in the relaunch with better characters such as Chen.
The book ends with Picard being offered a promotion to Admiral. He declines, quoting what Kirk said to him in Generations. To paraphrase; Don’t let them promote you. Stay a captain.
I can’t say I loved the plot point in which Picard, yet again, disobeys Starfleet command and takes matters into his own hands. I think that’s has happened in nearly every recent TNG book. Is this behaviour consistent with such a died-in-the-wool Starfleet guy? Yes, Picard learns to loosen up during the show. But I don’t remember him resorting to so much insubordination just to satisfy his own whims.
There were also a few shakily written scenes. On two separate occasions, Leisner described a character as “staring daggers” at someone. Ugh. If I were a Simon & Schuster / Pocket Books editor, I would not let such lazy cliches sneak into a manuscript.
Overall, Losing The Peace was a welcome change of pace. It was nice to read a story where a planet or civilisation was not about to be blown up by the Borg. Instead, Leisner brings things down to a smaller, more human level. It wasn’t a perfect book, and it might be a bit slow for some, but I found it a pleasant read and I hope to see more from Leisner in the future.