Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of the NX-01 may have cut their TV adventures short, but they continue in print. This week’s Library Computer takes a look at the Star Trek Enterprise releaunch including an exclusive sneak peek at the next fall’s "Kobayashi Maru," written by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin, as well as a tease on next year’s Romulan War books.
Warning: This story contains spoilers for the Star Trek: Enterprise novels "Last Full Measure" and "The Good That Men Do", along with the Enterprise series finale, "These Are the Voyages."
The relaunch so far
The upcoming "Kobayashi Maru" is a sequel to "The Good That Men Do", also written by the Mangels and Martin, which was released by Pocket last summer. [see TrekMovie.com review] As many Enterprise fans will no doubt already be aware, that novel offered a number of twists, and cast the series’ frustrating final episode, These Are the Voyages, in a surprising new light. Not the least these twists was the revelation that Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker didn’t actually die during the events depicted in holodeck form during the episode.
The initial hints of a different fate for the engineer actually appeared in the wrap-around story of Mangels and Martin’s first Enterprise novel, "Last Full Measure", which revealed that Tucker was still alive some seventy-seven year later, in 2238, and had even contributed “anonymous marginal notations” on the construction blueprints for the Constitution-class Starship Enterprise. The plan to save Tucker, in book form at least, was approved by Paramount, and came from one of Pocket’s managing editors for Star Trek, Margaret Clark, who disliked the final episode of Enterprise as much as many fans did. But Clark says the idea for doing it actually originated onscreen. “Look at the episode… the Doctor looks at Archer, and Archer looks at Reed. It’s like they’re all conspiring about something. So we’re just taking what the actors were doing and saying, maybe there was a subtext that not even the hologram program writer knew about.”
"The Good That Men Do" ran with that idea by positing that Tucker’s death wasn’t real, but was instead deliberately faked. As the book begins, Tucker and T’Pol are on Vulcan, struggling to come to grips with the death of their daughter, Elizabeth, while Jonathan Archer and the rest of his crew are back on Earth, helping to encourage the difficult negotiations for the Coalition of Planets Compact. Meanwhile, dozens of telepathic Aenar are suddenly kidnapped from Andoria. When Shran delivers word of this to Archer and his crew, and asks their help in finding the missing Aenar, Tucker is convinced that the Romulans are responsible. Unfortunately, Starfleet is more concerned about finalizing the fragile Compact to appreciate the bigger threat. To make matters worse, Section 31 reveals that the Romulans may be perfecting a warp-seven stardrive that, matched with the telepathic Aenar, could mean that a remotely-controlled Romulan invasion of the Alpha Quadrant is imminent. So with the help of Reed’s former associate, Harris, Tucker’s death is faked, his appearance is altered, and he’s sent deep into Romulan space to infiltrate the stardrive project and stop it if he can.
Kobayashi Maru…Archer first to face no win scenario
In planning the sequel to "The Good That Men Do", which picks up just hours after that book ends, Clark saw several opportunities. “Manny Coto [the show runner of the TV series in its final season] managed to redeem Jonathan Archer, and he managed to put Enterprise on a fitting path. He was trying to take that show and fit it into the larger Star Trek universe, which we’d seen in the 1960s series.” So when Enterprise was cancelled, Clark felt that it was up to the novels not only to help keep Star Trek alive, but to continue that momentum. “Marco [Palmeri, Clark’s fellow Trek editor at Pocket] and I are always telling fans that we’re like the executive producers on the Star Trek books. We kind of have a white board in our heads that shows where we want the books to go. My idea, like Manny’s, was to make Enterprise as much a part of the Star Trek continuity as possible without making it seem forced or shoved in. So with the next book, we knew we wanted to tell a story that would lead into the Romulan War.”
As most fans are aware, the Romulan War remains one of the biggest unexplored periods of Star Trek history, and it was first hinted at in The Original Series. But the new novel is called "Kobayashi Maru," suggesting ties to the feature films instead, which are set well after this period in the Trek timeline. So what’s the connection? “The Kobayashi Maru was always in the back of my head,” Clark explains. “If you go to any of today’s military academies, in classes they have you revisit real historical battles. They have you refight the Little Big Horn, to see if you can get Custer out of there. They have you command the U.S.S. Constitution during the War of 1812. They have you look at real military scenarios, as if you were there, to see what lessons you can learn.” As we saw in the second Trek film, The Wrath of Khan, the Kobayashi Maru scenario has become just that sort of test for the cadets of Kirk’s era at Starfleet Academy. The historical opportunity was obvious to Clark. “What if the original Kobayashi Maru was like Archduke Ferdinand in the First World War, and it’s only years later when Starfleet looks back, that they realize this was the spark that set off the Earth-Romulan War?” By placing the crew of the NX-01 in the middle of these events, Clark saw a way to further cement Enterprise into the larger Trek continuity. “Jonathan Archer is the man who first faces the no-win scenario. He is the captain that’s first tested in that situation.”
Archer and crew dealt with Romulans before (shot from "Babel One")
Maru and connections to Abrams Trek and other Trek novels
Recent hints on the Internet would seem to indicate that the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek feature film may also deal with Kirk’s involvement in the Kobayashi Maru test, but Clark says that fans needn’t worry about a contradiction. “In our book, this is Archer and this is the NX-01 and this is the Kobayashi Maru. It’s not a recreation. This is not a simulation. This is the first time it ever happened – the real events.” So by the time a young James T. Kirk first encounters the scenario, Clark says, “Starfleet recognizes its value as a test of character and command ability. But its Archer and his crew’s situation they’re placed in.”
Clark adds that playing out these original events in the Enterprise novels has offered additional chances to tighten the show’s place in the overall continuity. “There’s some backwards things that we’re laying into "Kobayashi Maru" that explain why Archer’s ship looks the way it does… and also why the Enterprise of Kirk’s era looks the way it does. It’s actually laid out there in one of the movies, all without techno babble. When I pitched the idea to Michael and Andy, they gasped. So there’s a nice through line from Enterprise and our books, to The Original Series and on to the movies.” Clark even hints that this through line continues into the "Star Trek: Destiny" crossover trilogy books coming from Pocket later this year, which are being written by David Mack. "Destiny" is set in the 24th Century, featuring characters from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Titan, but will apparently have at least some Enterprise connections as well.
Next up – The Romulan War
Meanwhile, Michael and Andy have recently turned in their latest revised draft of "Kobayashi Maru" to Clark for editing and proofing. So what’s next for the Enterprise relaunch? Yes, fans… you guessed it – the Romulan War itself. Both Michael and Andy are naturally hoping to continue their wartime odyssey with the NX-01 crew, and Clark has hinted in the past that the Romulan conflict will either be presented as a mass-market trilogy of books or a single, grand large-format paperback. But right now, green-lighting the project depends on a number of factors, including sales of "Kobayashi Maru" and also the new feature film, as Clark rightly needs to make sure that nothing J.J. Abrams does on the big screen contradicts Pocket’s plans for the books. “We’re strictly keeping to the 22nd and 24th Centuries with our novels for the next couple of years. The 23rd Century is J.J.’s domain right now.”
Still, Clark anticipates that, after more than forty years, Star Trek fans will finally get to experience the Romulan War, at least in print, sometime next year. And you can rest assured that there’s no shortage of inspiration for Clark and her writers. “What I’ve told Mike and Andy is that you should look at the Romulans as if they’re North Korea. It’s really hard as a writer to get into an alien character’s mind. So by drawing a real-world analogy, it’s easier to identify with them.” Drawing such parallels not only lends immediacy and relevance, it also follows in the grand tradition of science fiction. “Gene’s stories were always tales about today. In Gene’s day, they were China. But now, you have North Korea. It’s a totally closed society, which explains why we don’t know what Romulans look like. The Romulan Praetor… he’s like Precious Leader. Remember, the North Koreans were so paranoid; they took the U.S.S. Pueblo and held it as a prize of war. They still have it to this day. This is how you have to think about the Romulans.”
Watch for Pocket’s highly anticipated (we expect) Romulan War novels to debut sometime in late 2009.
EXCLUSIVE KOBAYASHI MARU COVER + TEASER TEXT
Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels’ "Star Trek: Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru" will arrive on store shelves in September. To help ease the long wait until then, here’s an exclusive look at the book’s final cover artwork, and a bit of teaser text you just might find familiar…
"Star Trek: Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru" is available for pre-order now
“—imperative! This is the Kobayashi Maru, nineteen periods out of Altair Six. We have struck a gravitic mine and have lost all power! Our hull is penetrated and we have sustained many casualties—”
Despite the layers of distortion imposed by both distance and disaster, Archer immediately recognized the English-accented voice on the other end of the channel as that of Kojiro Vance, the flamboyant master of the S.S. Kobayashi Maru.
“Kobayashi Maru, this is Enterprise,” Hoshi said, her fingers entering commands at a brisk pace as she tried to isolate and enhance the tenuous subspace lifeline she had just reestablished. “Please confirm your position.”
“Enterprise, our position is Gamma Hydra, section ten. Hull penetrated. Life-support systems failing. Can you assist us, Enterprise? Can you assist us?”