Thu
Jan 23 2014 11:00am

A Few of my Favorite Things: Keith R. A. DeCandido’s A Time for War, A Time for Peace

A Time for War A Time for Peace Star Trek Keith R A DeCandidoWhen I picked up Keith R. A. DeCandido’s A Time for War, A Time for Peace (2004), I had no intention of blogging about it. I can’t tell whether the title comes from the Old Testament or from the Pete Seeger song. It’s book nine in a nine-book mini-series, and I object to anything nine books in length being described as a “mini-series.” More significantly, I haven’t read the first eight books.

Jumping in at book nine to say several hundred words about the worth and quality of a work doesn’t feel like fair play, but I’m going to do it anyway. I picked up this book as part of my personal mission to read everything ever written about Deltans. Although he doesn’t have much to say about Deltans, DeCandido has written a fun and fabulous book that completely drew me in.

It has all the things that make Star Trek worth reading:

1. Worf does what Worf does best.
Worf is a Klingon ambassador, which seems like it could be pretty tedious for everyone involved. But his embassy is attacked, and instead of high-tailing it out of there and making a plan to escape the Klingon Empire on a bicycle or something, he takes out the terrorists with an off-brand phaser. At least, I assume it’s an off-brand phaser. It’s Breenian, which is something that must have been explained at some point in one of the eight books I didn’t read. But it doesn’t matter that I don’t know that, because this is an exciting action scene with high stakes for both Worf and the story.

2. I wish I worked on the Enterprise.
The characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation spend roughly half of their waking hours working together in the same room. Periodically, they all leave that room, where they were working, and go sit in another room, to talk about their work. They sit in a conference room a few feet from their actual workplace, without muffins or eye-rolling or obvious personal animosity, and solve problems. Facing a performance audit, they simply plan to put their best foot forward. No one talks about performance metrics, best practices, or implementation rubrics. They are delightfully free from jargon and bullshit. Perhaps because the elimination of these streamlines a lot of future business, an intergalactic presidential election only takes a month. The crew of the Enterprise-E also enjoys delightfully futuristic wedding planning, which focuses entirely on how to make everyone happy since money is not a consideration. It’s difficult and traumatic anyway, but as a person who once broke down in tears because there were mushrooms on a proposed catering menu, I don’t see how you can avoid that.

3. Wesley shows up naked.
I have always thought that the entire notion of Travellers is weird. Charlie X and Q had phenomenal cosmic powers, and both of them were intensely annoying. I know there’s a substantial contingent that feels that Wesley Crusher was also annoying—I am not part of that. If my parents worked on a starship, I would have been just like him. Wesley’s scene in this book highlights all the problems that being a Traveller could cause for a person who tries to be thoughtful. He gets confused about the location of Riker and Troi’s wedding and shows up on Earth prepared for the Betazoid ceremony, where nudity would be expected, thus interrupting an important moment in the glacial progress of his mom’s relationship with Picard. This is not a mistake you make if you have to book a flight and a hotel. Though I am also not part of the contingent that wants to see Wes naked, I appreciate this critique of the notion that life would somehow be easier or more fun if only we could unchain ourselves from the natural functioning of time and space.

4. Scotty.
Not only has he been rescued from the transporter buffer, he’s looking out for the Enterprise crew and dispensing career advice. He’s amazing, as always. One of the great injustices of Star Trek is that we have never seen Scotty’s funeral. That’s only forgivable if we get to see the man himself, alive, well, sharing a drink, and reminding us of who we are and what makes us happy. Scotty makes me happy, most especially in the way he’s still alive.

5. Deltans.
Most depictions of Deltans stick to three points: They’re bald, they’re sexy, and they’re bad for you. DeCandido adds that they need water reclamation technology from a species they once went to war with. So now I know that, although they’re good at math, the Deltans aren’t so good at engineering, that their planet has to contend with periodic or regional drought, and that Deltans either do not or cannot use their pheromones to manipulate all other species. That’s a lot of additional dimension added to the characterization of Deltans, in less than two sentences.

 

Star Trek: A Time for War, A Time for Peace is available from Pocket Books.


Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.

18 comments
Andy Holman
1. AndyHolman
If you like Deltans, I recommend you check out the Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations books by Christopher L. Bennett. They have a Deltan main character!

-Andy
Christopher Bennett
2. ChristopherLBennett
Still, it would be nice if they had muffins in the conference lounge.

@1: Ellen has already reviewed the first DTI novel, Watching the Clock. It's linked in the Related Posts section right above the comments, but here's the specific link.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
3. EllenMCM
@2 - I would think on a ship with replicators, muffins would be cheap and easy, which is yet another reason the future is amazing. I need muffins for meetings. Obviously, their meetings are substantially less aggravating.
Christopher Bennett
4. ChristopherLBennett
@3: Yes, but they'd be even less aggravating with muffins. Muffins make everything better.

On the other hand, there was that time when Picard replicated Admiral Nechayev's favorite watercress sandwiches and Bularian canapés for a meeting in order to ease the tension between them. So they do occasionally have comfort food in meetings. Still... muffins.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
5. EllenMCM
@4 - That must have been some tension. I need to see that episode now.
Keith DeCandido
6. krad
Well this totally made my day......

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
tigeraid
7. tigeraid
I would just like to point out, the A Time For... series is my favourite literary Trek of all time.
Keith DeCandido
8. krad
BTW, there's more about the Delta-Carreon dispute in Articles of the Federation, which chronicles President Nan Bacco's first year in office.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Keith DeCandido
9. krad
Oh, and a minor correction: the novel takes place on the Enterprise-E, not the -D. :)

---KRAD
David Stumme
10. grenadier
It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure this series was set the year prior to Nemesis. That being the case, this would be the Enterprise-E, not D.

The Breenian phaser would belong to the Breen, an alien race introduced late in the Dominion War on Deep Space Nine.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
11. EllenMCM
@8 - I was wondering about that. It's on my list.
Christopher Bennett
12. ChristopherLBennett
@10: Actually the Breen were established much earlier than that. They were name-dropped several times in TNG (in "The Loss," "Hero Worship," "Interface," and Generations) and were first seen onscreen (inasmuch as they were ever seen) in DS9's "Indiscretion," well before the start of the Dominion War.
tigeraid
13. Zeno
A nine part series is really too much. Even as a big fan there is so much to read out there and even the single novel stories often had subplots that seemed to exist just to streach the page count. Sarek would have been a stronger book without the entire Peter Kirk subplot.
Christopher Bennett
16. ChristopherLBennett
@13: A Time to... isn't a single 9-part story, but basically a "season" of TNG consisting of four 2-part "episodes" and a 1-part finale. There are evolving character threads and background storyline/universe elements, and events in one storyline have consequences down the road, much as in TNG itself; but each of the five stories is pretty standalone and you don't need to read all 9 parts in one lump. Within Trek-Lit fandom, the last three volumes are considered the most essential ones, with the largest impact on the subsequent narrative.
tigeraid
18. Zeno
There is a fellow who just wrote a very nice review of Diane Duane's The Wounded Sky. This is a really good review. It was done by a fellow named Darren on the movie blog. Please check it out.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
19. EllenMCM
Pete Seeger died last night. Hearing his obit on NPR as I was driving to work reminded me of this, and how, as I was writing it, I imagined Star Trek: If I had a Hammer.
Keith DeCandido
20. krad
EllenMCM: You should know that there's a character in another of my novels, A Singular Destiny, who was partly inspired by Pete Seeger (though he was even more inspired by Seeger's longtime friend and stage singin' companion Arlo Guthrie) named Sonek Pran.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Robbie C
21. leandar
I could swear that the phaser Worf has is a Ferengi phaser Nog gave him. Something to do with there's something about that phaser that it isn't affected by energy dampening fields or weapons deactivation programs or something like that. Not sure without pulling the book up to look.

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