Capture the Flag (Starfleet Academy, #4) John Vornholt
114 pages; published 1994
114 pages; published 1994
Starfleet Academy attracted only the best, the smartest, the most ambitious. They were young people who didn’t fear outer space or the unknown. They didn’t fear Romulans or Tholians. They wanted to command starships, space stations, planetary outposts, and have hundreds of people following their orders. Only failure at the Academy could stop them, and each cadet had his own secret fear about that. (1)
I don’t read a great deal of science fiction*, preferring to watch it (though I watch plenty to make up for it). I do, however, have a real fondness of Star Trek fiction. Moreso than any other genre, these are my real comfort reads. The character are already oh-so-well known to me, the world already so real. it’s something I can read for pure, stress-free enjoyment.
So this week, in between lots of naps and rushed assignment completing (fun, fun week) I picked up one that I’d been saving.
This book is part of the Starfleet Academy series (“before they became officers aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, you favourite characters struggled through the Academy…”) aimed at YA fans of the series. This was focuses on Geordi La Forge during his first year at the Academy. Having travelled the galaxy with his ’fleeter parents, Geordi’s blindness and reliance on his VISOR has never been a problem, but now at the Academy he finds that it separates him from the others, causing him to always be chosen last.
When he wins a game of elimination against the strong, athletic and very arrogant Cadet Jack Petty, La Forge is made a captain in the upcoming round of offworld war games. He picks himself an unusual team – an Andorian, a Tellarite, a Vulcan, and a Saurian – all those who are usually chosen last. They’re not exactly an imposing group, but they intend to do their best. After all, as Geordi sys, that’s the most anyone can ever ask of you.
I was very curious to read these books, interested to see how they would approach the characters for a younger audience – especially considering that, presumably, they are already fans of the show and, as such, would reject too heavy a modification.
In that regard I think Vornholt did a well. Characters, locations and procedures all stayed true to form. I was hoping for a little more of a back story (along the lines of Jeri Taylor’s wonderful treatise on Kathryn Janeway, Mosaics, or the rest of the Voyager senior staff, Pathways), but not being a writer involved in the creation of the show I can understand why this was not the case. I also would have liked to have seen more of Academy life than just Geordi’s gym class, but as this was only one part of a larger series (and not the first part at that), I imagine I can look forward to that in other installments.
If you’re an avid fan of the show(s) who likes to taste all the different avenues this universe has explored then I’d recommend the series. I did enjoy it, and found it a nice change of pace from the action of the mainstream novels. If you’re a non-obsessive fan of show (as if that exists) then I’d maybe just stick with the regular novels. The book did not have a great deal of substance and didn’t reveal anything too exciting about the characters. 3/5
*I’d like to try to change this – anyone got a favourite they’d like to recommend?