Robert Greenberger's A Time to Hate, the second part of his entry in the A Time to... series of Star Trek books, continues the story of William Riker and the choices that he has to make. Leading up to Star Trek: Nemesis, Riker has to consider the direction of both his personal and professional life. As with A Time to Love, this was a short yet powerful book with a lot of character development and action. Not only that, it sets the scene for the rest of the series, piling on a little Starfleet intrigue as well.
The planet Delta Sigma IV is falling apart. The Bader and the Dorset, with their natural aggressive instincts returned to them, are finding that one hundred years of peace has not prepared them for violence. Instead, riots have broken out, murders are becoming very commonplace, and vandalism runs rampant. Many blame the Federation, so they take it out on the Enterprise's security officers who are attempting to keep the peace. Captain Picard is trying to buy time for Dr. Crusher to come up with a way to fix things. Meanwhile, Commander William Riker has found his father, as Kyle Riker tries desperately to track down the person who committed the initial murder. Tensions have always been high between the two men, but with Kyle suspected of some involvement in what's happened, these tensions grow ever stronger. However, Kyle is just trying to rectify the mistakes he has made, and he tries to enlist Will to help him. Will personal tensions between the two men keep them from fulfilling their mission? And will Dr. Crusher be able to fix things before the entire planet erupts into chaos?
A Time to Hate is only a minor let-down from the first book, mainly because the first book was so good. There are a couple of minor issues with this one that bring it down a notch. The first is the virtual disappearance of the native who has been leading Will around. Once Will finds his father, Seer is not in the book anymore until the end, and I missed him. The relationship that had developed between Will and Seer was interesting to read about, and I was sorry he was gone. I was worried that he had been completely forgotten until he showed up at the end. I suppose he would have detracted from the arguments that Will and Kyle had, but he would have been a more interesting companion than Bison was. I just found Bison annoying, and even more so when he ultimately didn't have much to do with the ending of the book. Incidentally, Bison is the other minor strike against the book.
As with A Time to Love, characterization is the strength of this book. All of the regulars are once again wonderfully portrayed, especially the Rikers. The conversations between them were great, relating back to the episode of The Next Generation in which Kyle appeared, as well as the book Deny Thy Father. Will is having a hard time forgiving the man for all those years of feeling abandoned as a child, but he slowly comes to realize exactly where Kyle was coming from. Their personalities still clash, but it's nice to see the relationship that develops. What happens between the two men cause Riker to think about a lot of other personal issues, especially his relationship with Deanna Troi. The ending of the book is marvelous (though the climax is clichéd), with some quiet scenes that lead into the next book, setting up both the Riker/Troi relationship as well as Riker's professional choices. We also see some of Deanna's side to this, but this is really Riker's book.
Not as well-done as the Rikers, though still very good, was Dr. Crusher. She has to make a decision about taking over the position of head of Starfleet Medical, which would mean leaving the Enterprise and Picard. She agonizes over whether to tell Picard of the offer, as well as whether or not to take it. Beverly is still unsure what her relationship with Picard actually is, which makes the decision all the harder. I liked the way the book left this, and I look forward to how the last three books finally deal with this. There will be some stress there, especially considering how Picard found out about the opportunity.
Even with all this, Greenberger has time to develop a few minor characters as he uses them to illustrate the situation on the planet. Security Chief Vale comes into her own as she organizes everything, hurting with every loss of security personnel (though again, Greenberger avoids the cliché of having every security officer given any characterization killed off). Some of the engineering staff are also given multiple dimensions, as they beam down to fix some of the infrastructure on the planet and have to deal with their own personal issues. The combination of characterization and plot is especially good in these instances. Because they are minor characters, they *can* die, but they don't always, and Greenberger gives us enough information so we actually care if they do or not.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of clichés in the book. The climax is one of them, and the other is that of "the doctor saves the day when nobody else could figure it out." However, this is mitigated a little bit because it's not a perfect cure, and there are some moral issues to it. This not only makes for interesting drama, but it also may add some spark to the Picard/Crusher issue that's clearly brewing. Add that to the ending where we find out that not all is rosy in Starfleet as the Federation recovers from the Dominion War, and you get a top notch book.
A Time to Hate is the perfect ending to this part of the series. It clears up some stuff but leaves us begging for more.