Genre: Sci-Fi/Star Trek
Read again? Nope.
This is somewhere in Next Generation's second season--hottie Troi, Riker and his beard, and bitchy Dr. Pulaski. It's a time when Data still hadn't figured out that he could link to a slang dictionary so he could stop interrupting conversations for the obligatory comic relief.
It should be noted that Troi and Riker are prominent on the book's cover...but Troi barely figures in the story.
The Enterprise is escorting five cargo drones in a relief mission to the planet Thiopa. This planet's not part of the Federation or any of the other big political groups, so the Federation's hoping to ifluence them by sending food and medicine to the near-starving, badly-polluted world.
When they arrive, they find that Thiopa is bitterly divided between the polluting technocrats and the nature-worshiping Sojourners.
This is a very linear plot; Thiopa is essentially Ethiopia, right down to regular people being starved while the ruling class (warlords, in their case) feast and live well and demonize the Sojourners as terrorists.
The book drags--and most annoyingly, it just ends. The two rival leaders are given a chance to talk, work things out--but not even face-to-face, just by visual teleconference. They bicker back and forth, so Picard just divvies up the relief supplies and leaves, leaving a good bit of unresolved plot behind without any significant diplomatic effort. One would think that such an important planet would have rated some effort.
Let me summarize the entire story:
"Your world is an environmental wreck. We want to help you, but you have to work together."
"Okay. Here's some rice and grain for you to plant in your polluted ground and arid desert, to be watered by your acid rain. You're farked. 'Bye."
The end. I just saved you almost THREE HUNDRED pages of suck. Characterization was so-so. I could have done without the Data-hasn't-heard-this-figure-of-speech-yet gags. The most wasted character, however, was the so-called ambassador in charge of delivering the cargo to the Thiopans. He wasn't much of a diplomat, really, spending most of his time being an ass to just about everyone, including the people he's supposed to be helping.