Saturday, October 25, 2014

Trek Novels - Star Trek: The Kobayashi Maru

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a Trek novel. This one gets the vote for today. I picked this book up some time ago. The title kind of called out to me and it looked interesting. For those who don’t know, the Kobayashi Maru is a scenario that Starfleet cadets go through at command school. In the scenario, a Starfleet ship gets a call from a downed freighter in the Neutral Zone. They go in and end up facing three Klingon cruisers. It’s a no-win situation that designed to see how cadets deal with loss. It was first introduced in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan and again in the rebooted Star Trek from 2009.

Julia Ecklar is the author of the novel. I’ve actually never heard of her. She’s done other novels. She also teamed up with other authors to write other Trek novels under the name of L.A. Graf. The Kobayashi Maru actually takes place sometime after Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Now, I have to imagine Kirk and crew in those gray and tan suits… oh man. I should be able to persevere.

Star Trek: The Kobayashi Maru 
Author: Julia Ecklar

BRIEF BLURB: While Kirk and some of the crew are on the search for a missing team, their shuttlecraft is heavily damaged. While they deal with the situation, Kirk, Sulu, Chekov, and Scotty talk about their experiences with the Kobayashi Maru.

The Enterprise heads to the Hohweyn system in order to make contact with a lost research group. Since the system has a lot of anomalies, Kirk, McCoy, Chekov, Sulu, and Scotty take a shuttle into the system. The shuttle gets heavily damaged by an anomaly which leaves the crew adrift and unable to contact the Enterprise. While they do what they can to repair the ship and get moving, McCoy convinces Kirk to talk about his time doing the Kobayashi Maru.

During his days at command school, Kirk had to take the Kobayashi Maru. He wants to beat the scenario since he doesn’t believe in a no-win situation. He took the test twice in order to beat it. He even tried to study other captains’ methods in battles. Since there are technically no rules, Kirk reprogrammed the situation in order to save the freighter. His superior gets on him about it, but he doesn’t get into any trouble on it.

After Kirk ends his story, Chekov is kind of forced to talk about his experience. Unlike Kirk, Chekov completed his test by going all-kamikaze on the Klingons. This riled up his superior and they got into a conversation on the whole thing. We also find out that Chekov idolized Kirk who was a standup cadet. Later, he and his cadet mates have to go through a survival exercise that pits all of them against each other. Chekov and the cadets decided to survive at all costs but they all eventually “die.” Chekov learned from his superior that Kirk did the same scenario and succeed by organizing his mates and not killing anyone. I think Cadet Chekov could have also used some advice from Dr. Cox from Scrubs.

After Chekov ends his story, Scotty tries to get them moving. While Scotty does his thing, Sulu recounts his experience. After he spent some time with his great-grandfather, Tetsuo, he headed off to his first year at command school. He and his classmates first go through an exercise that mimics space politics. When he finds out that Tetsuo has stopped taking treatments for his terminal brain tumor, Sulu stops talking to him. A couple of months later, he finds out that his great-grandfather has died. When he eventually takes the Kobayashi Maru test, he surmises that it could be a trap and decides not to go. He almost runs into a mutiny situation, but his science officer calms the rest of the cadets down.

After Sulu ends his story, Scotty tries his plan. It does what it can, but the Enterprise doesn’t show. Since they’re out of ideas, Scotty talks about his time in command school. While he was always wanting to an engineer, he went to command school for his family. He takes his test and uses the Perera Field Theory to destroy the Klingon vessels. As more came, he did what he could to take them down. It turns out that the theory is possible in a simulation but impossible in a real-life battle situation. When he tells his superiors that he originally wanted to be an engineer, they’re able to get him transferred to engineering school.

After Scotty ends his recollection, the crew get some rest. Kirk gets an idea on how to get the Enterprise’s attention. They all put their heads together and basically create an electromagnetic black hole out of the shuttle. Eventually, the Enterprise finds the shuttle and gets the crew on board.

This was a pretty nice read. I didn’t know what to expect with the book. If this were an episode, it would be a decent filler episode. Kirk and the rest of the crew sound perfectly in character. It was also cool to read about other members of the crew since most stuff tends to center on Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. I also liked that Chekov’s and Sulu’s stories were a little more fleshed out than the others were.

I liked all of the flashbacks. My favorites are a tie between Kirk’s and Sulu’s. They all gave an idea on who the four were before their time on the Enterprise. I wonder if the writers of the 2009 movie read this book since some of what Kirk and Spock said in that movie is said here. It was also cool to see how each of them approached the test. Chekov’s and Scotty’s solutions cracked me up. I seriously think that Chekov’s solution needed a remark from Dr. Cox.

Unfortunately, it can’t all be good. Sometimes, the book tends to get a little dry at times. I think the best example of this was Chekov’s story. While I liked it, it’s probably my least favorite of the four. It just gets boring at some places and I think I skipped over some of what was written. It turned into strategy and that can sometimes be boring. The present situation and resolution also didn’t amount to much. Since the book is essentially about the Kobayashi Maru tales, the accident really doesn’t matter. Other than that and a couple of minor quibbles, this was good.

Overall, it’s a good story and you should check it out if you haven’t. If you’re curious on how the original crew faced the no-win scenario, pick this up. Well, I out of things to say. I need to read about another cosmic event. Peace and God Bless.

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