The Starfleet Academy series of book were 14 titles set in The Next Generation era of the Star Trek TV show. These take place in the Starfleet Academy in San Francisco on Earth, a staging ground for those who wish to become Starship captains to study how to be Jim Kirk. The first three of these books were written by Peter David and focus on the character of Worf and his time as a cadet at the famous Academy. Worf is the first Klingon to ever be admitted to the academy and he will grow up to be one of the most beloved characters of the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series. I think it’s great that Worf is the star of these first few books because he’s one of my favourite characters for TNG but also because Peter David writes Worf really well.
David does a good job showing the reader why it’s important for Worf to succeed at the Academy because he’s the first Klingon to ever be admitted. There is a diplomatic importance to his success. It puts a lot of pressure on Worf and he doesn’t really have it easy in San Fran. He doesn’t really have it too difficult though. Despite his Klingon heritage he quickly made friends during the shuttlecraft ride that first brought him to the academy and he stays friends with them throughout the novel. They even formed a study group together. There is some conflict between Worf and a Brikarian but they by the end of the novel, they’ve become friends due to both being members of alien species that aren’t well represented at the Academy. Alien minorities have to stick together against the mutual threat of racial intolerance. It’s just a little strange that Worf so easily forgets that Zak Kebron, the Brikarian, is the one who antagonised Worf more than any other cadet.
My primary complaint for this young adult novel is that it’s a young adult novel. The cadets are all in their late teens; I believe it’s mentioned that Worf is 18, so really, they’re young adults and a more mature story could easily have been told. I think the decision to market this series to young adults is a good idea but by doing so it took away some of the storytelling potential. David’s writing style doesn’t pander to younger minds, but his trademark humour is nearly absent and the more serious themes and interesting moral dilemmas of his other Star Treknovels is also absent.
A series of shorter novels designed to be sold to younger readers is an interesting idea but despite not seeing signs of intentional dumbing down of Star Trek for consumption by younger readers, there is nothing here to really spark the interest of non-Trekkies or to challenge younger minds. It’s a short book, which is fine, but it feels slight. I understand that not all young adult fiction is 500+ pages novels like Harry Potter but it doesn’t have to be 120 page novellas about going to space school where nothing really happens other than some mild bullying amongst alien cadets. I did enjoy the pencil drawings. I’d like to see that incorporated in other Star Trek novels, especially because a lot of characters and settings never had the opportunity to make it to the small screen and it would be nice to see visual representations of many of the novel-only characters.