With a framing story set after the events of The Motion Picture, but with the uniforms introduced in The Wrath of Khan, so sometime during the second big mission, The Kobayashi Maru is more a collection of short stories as each member in a damaged shuttle tells a tale of their encounter with the famous Starfleet test or some other training exercise during their time at the academy.
While officially classified as non-canon, the Pocket Books series of Star Trek books are becoming increasingly entertaining, and attempting to weave themselves more tightly into the continuity tapestry of the universe.
When their shuttle is hit by a gravitic mine, stranding them in space far from the Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scott, Sulu and Chekov struggle to find a way to survive their injuries and find a way to signal for rescue.
To pass the time, four stories are shared from their Academy days, Kirk tells his version of how he bit the no-win scenario that is the Kobayashi Maru, and it’s actually pretty clever, and fun.
Chekov tells a story of a training scenario that took place after his disastrous run on the Maru, and while an interesting story, I had some difficulty relating it to the fresh-faced young ensign who comes aboard the Enterprise during the course of The Original Series.
Sulu tells a beautiful tale of his Kobayashi scenario, and the effect that loved ones can have on you. His story was my favorite, about loss, responsibility, command, and growth.
Scotty’s tale shows how the engineer took command training to please his family, despite his calling to be the best engineer he could he didn’t want to disappoint his relatives. It’s also the shortest of the tales, but definitely shows what happens when someone recognizes your talents, and makes you apply them to follow your dreams.
It’s too bad that McCoy doesn’t share a story. I’m sure even when he was a student at the Academy he must have had a bevy of amusing tales he could share.
In the end, Kirk proves once again that he doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario, and concocts a plan to get them rescued that lets all of them put their skills to the test, and shows how well they work as a crew, and Spock and the Enterprise rescue them just in time.
There are some humorous moments throughout the book, and I like how the tale is told. It totally works, and ends up being fairly fun. And like all short story collections, if you aren’t necessarily a fan of one, just wait a few pages, and there’ll be another one coming along.
Still, I believe they all work, and there are some nice tie-ins, some subtle, some overt, that just layer out the story as well as the reality of the Trek universe.
The Human Adventure continues, as there are still so many Star Trek books to explore.