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A Time To Sow & A Time To Harvest

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at May 1, 2004 - 8:08 AM GMT

Title: Star Trek: A Time to Sow
Authors: Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore
Release Date: April 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-8299-9

Title: Star Trek: A Time to Harvest
Authors: Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore
Release Date: May 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-8298-0

The second duology in a series of novels that is intended to answer many of the questions about The Next Generation characters raised by the movie Star Trek Nemesis, A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest pick up where the previous novel in the series, A Time to Die, leaves off. You do not need to have read the two previous books in this series to understand and enjoy these two new instalments. All of the plot elements from A Time to be Born and A Time to Die that are critical to know for this story are recapped within the narrative of A Time to Sow. Thankfully A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest do a better job of developing the characters than the preceding books did with an action-adventure mystery full of surprising twists and turns.

Over two hundred years ago the planet Dokaal was on the verge of being torn apart by global seismic events when its people sent three probes into space bearing a desperate plea for help. Assigned to investigate when one of the probes is discovered, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E discover the last of the Dokaalan struggling to survive in an asteroid belt. Still laboring under a cloud of suspicion and the ramifications of their previous mission, Picard and company find themselves drawn into a web of intrigue that quickly escalates into a deadly confrontation with an old enemy.

A Time to Sow begins leisurely, with the first 100 pages setting up the main storyline as the authors take the time to establish the background necessary to allow the Dokaalan to become three dimensional for the reader. Through the personal journal entries of Hjatyn, a Dokaalan living on one of the mining colonies, the destruction of Dokaal is relived. The poignant journal entries build empathy for the aliens.

With two novels to tell their story, Ward and Dilmore don't rush to jump into the action at the expense of bringing real depth to the characters. The pacing also makes for some great scenes between the major characters and actual character development for some of the minor ones. The outstanding characterisation is one of the highlights of this story. The bridge scenes, for example, read as if you were watching a TNG episode.

Those readers who might feel frustrated over the initial slow pacing will be amply rewarded when the Enterprise-E reaches the Dokaalan system and the tempo picks up in dramatic fashion. While navigating the asteroid belt the ship intercepts a distress call and immediately jumps in to rescue a large group of Dokaalan miners who are threatened when the reactor of one of the asteroid mining facilities goes critical. After this rather dramatic introduction, the crew of the Enterprise starts to work with Dokaalan survivors and it soon becomes apparent that something isn't quite right.

Ward and Dilmore carefully start to lay out the clues to the mystery as they gradually ratchet up the tension level so that by the time you move on to the second half of the story in A Time to Harvest you just have to know what happens. I won't spoil the fun by divulging any more of the plot but I will say that as the story races towards its climax in A Time to Harvest, the patience of the reader is amply rewarded.

The one problem that the story told in A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest suffers from is too much recapping. At times it almost feels as if the authors were working from the premise that the reader might not remember enough of the details from the episodes they reference in the story to get it without having their memory jogged. That isn't necessarily a problem except in the instances when the recapping interferes with the flow of the plot, or is repetitive.

Overall however, A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest were an entertaining and enjoyable read, particularly if you enjoy these characters. As interesting as the story was it was the profundity that Ward and Dilmore brought to their characterization that really stood out. My favorite scenes were between Geordi and Data, which perfectly illustrated the significance of their friendship and what makes their relationship so special.

It was refreshing to see some of the minor characters like security chief Lieutenant Vale and Lieutenant Taurik get some development as well. I can't help but hope that what the authors did with the Trill helm officer Lieutenant Perim is followed up on in subsequent novels. Some of the character driven scenes are obviously meant to lay the groundwork for the novels that will follow these, such as the hints that Worf is up to something.

A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest take the crew of the Enterprise full circle. As the story opens the crew is communally frustrated, at a very low point in their lives and careers, but what they experience on this mission seems to bring about a renewal of their individual and collective spirits. The reader gets to experience that journey along with the characters, and it is a journey you'll be glad you took.

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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