Hearts and Minds by Dayton Ward
Star Trek The Next Generation: Hearts and Minds is the latest novel in the Star Trek universe by Dayton Ward. The book takes place in two timelines, one starting in 2031 as an alien ship is shot down over the United States, and the other as the crew of the Enterprise under the command of Jean Luc Picard make what they believe to be first contact with another space faring civilization.
Things are never as simple as they first seem, and in both timelines, complications soon begin piling up. Before the Enterprise can make contact with the alien Eizand, he receives cryptic orders from Starfleet command warning him that this planet, devastated by nuclear war, may hold secrets. Meanwhile, in the earth-centered timeline, the crashed alien craft leads to investigation by Majestic 12, as well as the group of people who have been watching and sometimes guiding human events that fans of the original series first encountered in the form of Gary Seven.
The Eizand turn out to be the race common to both timelines. As xenophobic elements on earth debate taking aggressive action towards this alien race, Picard and the Enterprise are surprised to discover that the Eizand are familiar with Earth. Picard and his crew must unlock the mystery of what led to disaster for the Eizand and trace its history back to 21st century Earth.
Ward does a good job of spending time with both the well-known characters such as Picard, Worf and La Forge as well as lesser known characters and ones from favorite episodes such as Gary Seven. He blends in new characters as well that make for a balanced and interesting cast.
Juggling the two time frames becomes a little distracting at times as it proves difficult for the story to maintain momentum in both. Starfleet’s cryptic interference with Picard’s command annoys him greatly, and it is frustrating for readers as well. Eventually Picard and his crew shed new light on a centuries old event which will reshape how both civilizations view their own respective histories.
I’m a big fan of the continued adventures in the Star Trek universe and the opportunity they present to spend time with favorite characters, learn more about minor characters and meet new ones. Hearts and Minds is a lot of fun for Star Trek fans.
Robert Petkoff is the narrator for this book and once again does a stellar job. His command of multiple character voices is superb and it’s hard to believe that one person is doing the reading. His reading complements the story in both pacing and emphasis. He is my go-to narrator for any Star Trek book and makes the audio version of these stories my preferred way of consuming them. I don’t care what he’s reading, I’ll listen.
I was fortunate to receive a copy of this audiobook from the publisher.
Listen to a sample:
Listen to a sample: