The adventures of the crew of the NX-01 continue with Kobayahi Maru as the first novell set after the final episode of the TV-show. Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin tell the story of Archer trying to proof for Romulan attacks on Coalition Freighters, Trip still playing spy-games and T’Pol and Reed going totally nuts. But is it worth all the madness?
Enterprise did something that was completely untypical for a Star Trek-series: It ended after just 4 seasons with a quite sudden final episode. Back before it was announced that this show would only have 4 seasons, I was really looking forward to learn the story behind the Earth-Romulan war. A handful of episodes during the 4th season of Enterprise like United also laid some groundwork in this regard, but nothing on a bigger scale.
That changed in last year’s novell The Good that Men Do where Trip infiltrates the Romulan Star Empire and you get to know the Romulans of that era a little more. “Kobayashi Maru” continues that story line and can actually be counted as the first part of a real continuation of the series. It mostly tells the story of how T’Pol and Archer try to deal with Trip no longer being there and the Romulans and Klingons becoming more and more threats to the still young Coalition of Planets.
The situation becomes more and more complicated thanks to a series of attacks on Coalition freighters for which some people think the Klingons are responsible while Archer more and more suspects some involvement of the Romulans. The Enterpries and the Columbia are order to protect these freighters but Archer wants to find the people actually behind those attacks.
The book also tells the story of the destruction of the Kobayashi Maru, a freighter which later became the namesake of the famous final exam on the Starfleet Academy.
Thanks to all these conflicts the story never gets boring thanks to tons of battles, spy-games and people acting behind other people’s backs. Heck, you even get Archer fighting the Klingon admiral Krell in a battle of honor. So there is nothing to complain on this front. It also builds up the whole storyline for the war against the Romulans as well as for the cold war between the later Federation and Klingon Empire, so there is quite a lot of background information for future references in here.
But sadly the book has a couple of problems, which are hard to explain without spoiling the story. I’ll try it this way: Sometimes I really have to wonder, if people (no matter who) can do whatever they want without (a) Archer thinking that they might have crossed the line and finally acting accordingly and (b) the rest of the noticing anything even if it’s completely obvious. I don’t even want to start with the rest of the “T’Pol & Reed-situation” since no matter how I look at it, I get a headache. Some goes for all the Starfleet and Coalition brass and how they act in a crisis.
The other huge problem of this book is for the last 2 decades the story around the Kobayashi Maru and its destruction in particular has become kind of a mythos in the ST-community. This book should have actually come up with some great story around that, but the freighter and its crew only get some relatively show appearances (3 IIRC) including the final moments. Really disappointing.