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Illusion is a Picard/Crusher story by Allison Martens.
It was the winner of an ASC Award.
Reactions and Reviews
Any Biology teacher would be able to list the accepted characteristics of life—respond to stimuli, metabolize, communicate, reproduce. In fact, in the 6th season episode, "The Quality of Life," Beverly Crusher gives Data what 24th century theorists and scientists believe are those parameters. And anyone who has ever watched TNG knows exactly how Doctor Crusher views her Hippocratic oath and what "living" means to her. Taking place during the first days of the Enterprise-E's maiden voyage, an accident forces Captain Picard to see life through his best friend's eyes. And to reconcile his desires with hers, no matter how much it will hurt.
The Tipster is being deliberately vague with this outstanding story's premise, for to be more descriptive of the plot would be to give away too many of the story's plentiful high points. "Illusions" is philosophical rather than action oriented or even romantic; in fact, Allison apologizes (no need for that) that there's so much dialogue in the story. But the dialogue is supremely perceptive, absolutely spot-on and truthful to the characters. Particularly touching is the conversation between Data and Beverly concerning artificial life and the concept of identity. Each character's actions are exactly how we would expect them to act, from Data and Geordi's ceaseless pursuit of a solution to the problem, to Troi's compassionate efforts on behalf of her captain and her best friend, to Jean-Luc Picard's ability to subsume his feelings and desires for the benefit of those he cares for and loves. In the end, Picard acts as he always has, for the greater good of those involved."Illusions" is perhaps the best on-line TNG story the Tipster has ever read. It is a work of extreme care and skill, despite its somber premise. This is definitely a story to read, but be warned. It is a tear-jerker of the first magnitude, so be prepared! 
- ^ Greatest Fics You've Ever Read, October 1999
- ^ from Coach's Club House #9 (September 1997)