As a two-decade long Trekker, could I give a ‘Star Trek’ novel a bad review? Should I compromise my ideals and pretend everything is rosy or do I tarnish the legacy of one of my favourite shows? Such an impossible decision. Thankfully, that’s what the ‘Kobayashi Maru’ is all about, the impossible choice, the no-win situation that every Starfleet officer has to face at the Academy.
Familiar to even the most casual fan, it was featured in the Abrams film ‘Star Trek’, this novel charts the origins of the Academy challenge which tests cadets on how they react to situation they simply can’t win. Some go down fighting, some run away or some, Jim Kirk I’m looking at you, simply cheat their way out of it.
Before Kirk decided to cheat the system, Captain Archer of the Enterprise, is facing the situation for real. While on dull picket duty, Archer believes that the Romulans are up to something and, of course, he’s right. There’s a dastardly plot afoot to start war between the Coalition and the Klingon Empire but, thankfully, former engineer and now spy Trip Tucker is on hand to save the day from behind enemy lines. Amid all this, a transport ship, the eponymous Kobayashi Maru is being used a bait to lure the Enterprise into a trap.
Much like the show itself, this novel had potential but didn’t really live up to it. There was an opportunity to show how the test came about and its legacy within Starfleet. Instead, it’s tacked on at the end of the novel and the only positive to come from this plot point is the further erosion of Archer’s spirit and soul.
There’s not much love for the characters neither. I understand that this is part of Martin and Mangels’ attempt to re-launch the Enterprise universe but it’s all a little flat with only Archer, T’Pol, Mayweather and Trip getting any real action.
Unfortunately, Trip, one of the series’ best characters, has become similar to ‘South Park’s’ Kenny, constantly cheating death in increasingly ridiculous situations. It’s good that the expanded universe brought him back to life after the pointless decision to kill him off in the show’s finale but I think it’s time for him to come to the Enterprise and the loving arms of T’Pol.
This will suit fans of ‘Enterprise’ who want more after the show’s possibly premature cancellation but casual readers of ‘Star Trek’ shouldn’t expect anything amazing here.
(pub: Simon and Schuster. 475 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), $ 7.99 (US), $ 6.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4165-5480-6)
check out website: www.simonandschuster.com