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The framing sequence is set in 2290, shortly after the death of Admiral Melissa Sturdevant. A Starfleet officer reflects on her and how, without her efforts, thousands of people (including the officer's family) would be dead.
The core of the novella flashes back to the mid-2260s, during an attempted coup d'état on the Federation protectorate of Yogyakarta Baru. It outlines the motivations behind the coup and the personalities involved, from the highest levels of Yogyakarta Baru society to the lowest.
On Yogyakarta Baru, trust became a very rare commodity.
The title is taken from lyrics of the song "Hazy Shade of Winter", made famous by Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s, and The Bangles in the 1980s.