To protect the cargo ships essential to the continuing existence of the fledgling Coalition of Planets, the captains of the United Earth’s Starfleet are ordered to interstellar picket duty, with little more to do than ask “Who goes there?” into the darkness of space.
Captain Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise seethes with frustration, wondering if anyone else can see what he sees. A secret, closed, militaristic society, convinced that their survival hangs by a thread, who view their neighbors as a threat to their very existence with only one goal: attain ultimate power, no matter the cost. The little-known, never-seen Romulans seem to live by these same principles.
The captain realizes that the bond between the signers of the Coalition charter is fragile and likely to snap if pushed. But he knows that the Romulans are hostile, and he believes they are the force behind the cargo ship attacks. If asked, Archer can offer no proof without endangering his friend’s life.
To whom does he owe his loyalty: his friend, his world, the Coalition? And by choosing one, does he not risk losing all of them? What is the solution to a no-win scenario?
Even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan you’ve probably heard of the infamous no-win Starfleet training scenario: Kobayashi Maru.
We’ve only seen the exercise twice on screen: first, at the beginning of The Wrath of Khan when Saavik takes the test. And second, in the 2009 Star Trek reboot when Chris Pine’s Kirk rigs the scenario to beat it. Though we’ve seen both Saavik and Kirk go through the test, we’ve never actually seen how the no-win Starfleet training scenario came to be.
The previous Enterprise book, The Good That Men Do, retconned Trip’s death at the ending of These are the Voyages. He’s now working undercover for Section 31 to gather intel on the Romulans. Technically you should read that book before jumping into Kobayashi Maru, but it’s not necessary–I haven’t read it yet and I was able to follow along with minimal confusion.
As far as Star Trek books go, this one was pretty long at 475 pages. And it felt long. The first half was pretty slow to build up, dragging in a few too many places. I put it down a few times and moved on to–and completed–other books. But once I reached the second half, the tension finally showed itself. It took me several weeks to get through the first half and only a matter of hours to power through the second half.
Overall, it’s a tense lead up to the Romulan War, and an insightful look into what could have been season five of Enterprise before it got abruptly cancelled.
I’m making my way through the first Romulan War book now so stay tuned for my review on Beneath The Raptor’s Wings.
This Kobayashi Maru book is not to be confused with The Original Series novel The Kobayashi Maru by Julia Ecklar (though that book was also a great look into the TOS crew’s past).