Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by JD, Jun 26, 2010.
S&S has the description up for the second and only the second new YA Starfleet Academy book.
Seriously, this sounds like a bad after school special. Romance & adventure? Is there something giving them an edge?
I half expect the last page to have a PSA "Starfleet Cadets don't do drugs!"
Hopefully it'll be handled with more subtlety that this blurb.
That description makes me really sad...
I'm sure there will be some obvious downside to these enhancements/drugs (allowing them to go with the cliche' "drugs are bad"). Honestly, though, I don't think it would automatically be bad if some doctor invented helpful intellectual/physical enhancements with limited side-effects. Another trekbbs thread brought up the advantages Vulcans have over humans. It's natural that humans would want to narrow the intellectual/physical gap (if possible).
And, despite the talk about avoiding genetic enhancements, the occasional comment about 24th century little kids taking advanced mathematics indicate that something has been done to improve the average human's intellectual capacity.
Adderall Receives Honorary Degree From Harvard
Why? It's being written for "Young Adults". 12-16 year old ST and science fiction fans who are reluctant to read longer adult chapter books.
"But some recruits seem better equipped to handle the challenges. Is there something that is giving them an edge?"
Maybe some come from planets with different gravity? And we know that some are aliens.
Other franchises has books and other tie-ins that appeal to younger age groups--Lord knows Star Wars has been doing it since day one--and Trek actually used to do that itself with storybooks before it suddenly kicked kids to the curb at some point...
Which could just be improvements in educational techniques. The thing about present-day schools is that they're not really designed to nurture and improve the mind, they're holdovers from a time when the goal was to shape children into compliant cogs in the industrial machine, their heads filled with rote facts and their capacity for critical thinking and inquisitiveness discouraged. There have been attempts to change that, but there's still a long way to go. In a culture whose school system was really designed to work with a child's natural desire to learn rather than against it, there would be a lot of improvement in the average person's intellectual performance.
"Drugs are bad, m'kay? If you do drugs you're a bad person, m'kay?" - who's letting Mr Macky write Star Trek books?
I bet they're called "stims" like in everything from Babylon 5 to nuBSG
Man, I hate the idea that you have to write differently for a teenage audience. Teenagers aren't stupid. They're perfectly capable of reading on an adult level, and most resent these kinds of books for the simplified nature. I despised it when I was a teenager, and I'm not any fonder of the idea now, honestly.
This. Couldn't have said it any better myself.
I think some folks would be surprised if they took a stroll through the "young readers" section of any decent bookstore, if only to see the incredible variety of books which are available, the themes they cover, and how they go about covering them. You want your eyes opened? Check out that area of the store. It was most definitely a learning experience for me when I started researching writing for kids a few years ago. My preconcieved notions about what constituted "a kid's book" -- some of which had been formed by some lackluster attempts at stuff like Star Wars and...yes...even some of the Star Trek books aimed at such audiences -- were stomped, but good. There's a lot of stuff out there being written the teen demographic that is most definitely not "stupid," and neither does it treat its readers that way.
Writing for teens as opposed to adults -- when done properly -- has little to do with writing "down" to them as much as it does just writing characters with whom the readers can (in theory) better identify, and driving plots from the point of views of such characters. Teens will identify with characters closer to their own age, who are facing the same sorts of challenges and issues they deal with every day (or whatever comparable issues and challenges might be faced by a teen character living hundreds of years in the future, etc.). Stories about those type of people tend to resonate with teens better than...for example...Admiral Kirk facing a midlife crisis, or having to deal with retirement by heading off to a faraway paradise planet with a girl young enough to be his granddaughter.
As for this particular book? All we have to go on is the cover blurb, which likely wasn't even written by the author, so I'd rather wait to see what the actual book is like before getting too worried about this newest attempt to appeal to "young Trekkies." As a dad looking with an evil agenda of hooking his kids on Trek, I'm obviously pulling for this effort to succeed, because it just gives me one more weapon
Anyway, just my $.02, adjusted for inflation.
Although I'd never read a YA book now, I must admit to having fond memories of Atlantis Station, Capture the Flag and Worf's First Adventure.
^ I remember liking Capture the Flag in particular from the SFA line, mostly because I played the game as a kid
I even pitched a YA novel to Pocket way back when (Riker and other cadets vs. Orion pirates...I'd even written the entire story because I didn't read that part of the submissio guidelines which read "Don't do that shit."), and received a very nice rejection letter from the editor at the time, letting me know everything I was thinking and doing wrong with respect to my story and writing sample.
Bottom line? Writing correctly for the kids/teens market ain't easy.
Okay, putting my school librarian hat on here:
Some kids are " perfectly capable of reading on an adult level", but lots of kids - and way too many adults - are not. If you read any of the previous ST YA novels, and didn't like what you were reading, perhaps you simply weren't of the same reading age as the kids those books are designed for? That's why it looked to you like they'd been dumbed down.
YA novels are a misnomer, but they're called "Young Adult" novels because they are aimed at kids who are still quite a way off being "young adults". That's all part of the marketing strategy. Kids with lower reading ages than their chronological age, lower than all of their peers, and who are not ever reading for pleasure.
By using a more controlled vocabulary, shorter chapters, larger fonts, colour plates, b/w illustrations, appealing covers, young protagonists of slightly higher age than the intended readers, and highly-covetable media tie-in titles, otherwise reluctant readers can often be cajoled/coerced/tempted into "having a go". YA books are aimed at kids who do not usually find reading to be pleasurable. But... often motivation for reading is all that was needed to kick a kid's ability to strive for higher reading ages. They already had the basics (word attack skills), after all, but felt no compulsion to use them because reading was a yukky thing the brainy kids do.
If YA novels do their job properly, the kids who do "switch on" to reading with them won't need YA titles forever. If they are really engaging with the topic, they'll often do a leap of faith to related adult books on the same themes/characters/genres.
Marketing/sales will always have an influence here, of course. As one of the editors explained a few years ago, if there's already a sizable collection of YA books on a certain topic, the publishers will often move on to a new funkier, more popular topic-of-today, because kids pass through the "need to read YA titles" phase quite quickly and they are eager to move up to adult novels in the same genre. You'll often see media tie-in YA titles come out in blocks of four, maybe followed by another block of four - and then that might be it, because the next YA demographic cohort is already champing at the bit for the next "in" thing, not last year's thing. Meanwhile the old YA demographic's cohort members are either reading adult books (the job done) or back to more physical things (sport, computer games, dating).
You bet. "Young adults" may not be confident readers but they can spot a phony author a mile away!
Why not? The fact that I'm 47 isn't going to stop me from reading these new books. I was in my 30s when the last Trek YA books were being published, and I read them, too. It's another way of looking at one of my favourite fictional universes. And it's not like it'll take a lot of time to get through them.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to waiting for that cheap box set of The Darksmith Legacy (Doctor Who books for kids) to show up in my mailbox.
It's entirely possible I just never came across the right books at that age. Once I was 10 or so, I had started reading Tolkien, Eddings - and especially the D&D Forgotten Realms and Star Trek books.
ps - I would certainly consider the Harry Potter books to be 'YA' done right.
I dont think I read any YA books. I went from Encylopedia Brown to Jules Verne.
Only the first two. On purpose.
Notice how Rowling forces her audience to "step up" as the books got darker, chunkier, more complex. Her YA audience was growing up with the books. ie. Start the first one as a YA and then keep climbing.
Yeah, like the His Dark Materials trilogy, which are aimed at kids (supposedly), but get into some pretty deep stuff like the origin of consciousness, religion, and physics. Plus, the books are pretty violent, one character spends the about half of book two with two of his fingers cut off, bleeding to death.
Separate names with a comma.