[Book Review] Star Trek Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru

Kobayashi MaruStar Trek Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru
Michael A Martin & Andy Mangels

Genre: Sci-fi


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).

Book Links: Book Depository | Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK


3 thoughts on “[Book Review] Star Trek Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru”

  1. Dana, I’ve never heard of anyone else I know having read this book until now! I read it about 6 or 7 years back and really enjoyed it. I love Star Trek, so I was trying to borrow all the spin-off books from my library at the time. Have you read any of the Starfleet Academy books? I read The Delta Anomaly because it was about Kirk when he was a cadet, and I remember being a little disappointed with the pacing and that there wasn’t more drama in it. Great review!

    1. Aaah glad to hear you’ve read it too! It doesn’t seem to be at all a popular book (I think it’s out of print now) even on goodreads it has less than 700 ratings.

      I think I may have read a couple of the Academy books a looong time ago (I would bring in Star Trek novels to school for ‘reading time’ when I was 11 haha) but I don’t remember any of it if I had. I heard similar thoughts about the pacing/lack of tension

      I’m planning on making my way through all the relaunch novels (there are so many!)

      1. Yeah, I don’t think it’s very well known, but the people who’ve read it seemed to enjoy it! Yes, there are sooooo many relaunch books that it could take a while to get to them all. I have no doubts that you’ll manage it though 🙂 Happy trekking and reading 😉

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