(written from a Production point of view)
Kirk and his crew face certain death… while journeying deep into their own pasts!
- From the book jacket
- A freak shuttlecraft accident – and suddenly Captain Kirk and most of his senior officers find themselves adrift in space, with no hope of rescue, no hope of repairing their craft, or restoring communications – with nothing, in short, but time on their hands.
- Time enough for each to tell the story of the Kobayashi Maru – the Starfleet Academy test given to command cadets. Nominally a tactical exercise, the Kobayashi Maru is in fact a test of character revealed in the choices each man makes – and does not make.
- Discover now how Starfleet Cadets Kirk, Chekov, Montgomery Scott, and Sulu each faced the Kobayashi Maru… and became in turn Starfleet officers.
Kirk's story relates how, after failing the test more than once and becoming more and more obsessed with it, he cheats and reprograms the test to make it think he was so famous and respected in battle, that the simulation adversaries instantly surrender and offer assistance.
Chekov's story begins the review of his decision to self destruct the ship so that it doesn't fall into enemy hands. It then relates his (and his classmates) rather humorous misinterpretation of a Starfleet Academy exercise in which the class is left on an empty space station and ordered to 'stay alive.' Many booby traps, ambushes, and hacking into computers later, Chekov ends the exercise by 'suicide stunning' himself and several of his former teammates (who had captured him) so that nobody wins. He later learns that Kirk successfully completed the exercise with high honors, having ensured that no one died.
Scotty's account of the test relates how a teacher and mentor at the Academy recognized Scott's genius at engineering but also recognized Scott's family's need for him to complete command school for family honor. When Scott lasts longer than anyone else ever on the test, using his knowledge of engineering and theory, the same teacher has him kicked out of the school, pronouncing him unfit to command, as one of the theories he had used only worked in the program, but wouldn't in real life (Scott knew this). This allowed Scott to return to engineering full time… his true love.
Sulu's story relates his relationship to his great-grandfather. Soon after Sulu enters Command School, his grandfather makes the decision to stop taking treatments for a terminal cancer, thus choosing to end his life with dignity. While this estranges the pair for the final several weeks of the grandfather's life, it teaches Sulu the value of learning to let go… a lesson he uses to refuse to even try to rescue the Kobayashi Maru during the test.
Between each story is related how the four work together to survive and send a signal to call for help from the Enterprise.
- The ship pictured on the cover is a Tritium-class ship, designed by Rick Sternbach for the Spaceflight Chronology. It is not clear if it was meant to represent the fictional space vessel Kobayashi Maru. In the original design it was a prototype Starfleet ship that only entered limited production, not a neutronic fuel carrier ship.
- In the Interplay game Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, the Kobayashi Maru level can be reprogrammed as Kirk described in this novel. Even the dialogue is similar.
- The image of the KM itself on the cover would later be used as the basis for the design of the ship when it made a canonical appearance of it in 2009's Star Trek. 
- James Kirk
- Hikaru Sulu
- Montgomery Scott
- Pavel Chekov
- Kojiro Yance
- Fictional character, captain of Kobayashi Maru
- Fictional character, Klingon commander of IKS Kh'yem.
- Admiral who supervises Kirk's test and serves on the evaluation board for Scotty's.
- Admiral who supervises Scotty's test and serves on the evaluation board for Kirk's.
- Aldous Kramer
- Commodore, Chekov's cadet bloc instructor and test supervisor, also supervises a subsequent command scenario in which Chekov participates.
- Rachel Coan
- Commodore, Sulu's cadet bloc instructor and test supervisor.
- Commodore who serves on the evaluation board for Scotty's test.
- Commodore who serves the evaluation board for Scotty's test.
- Lt. Commander, member of Howell's staff and friend of Kirk's at the academy. Human, but born and raised on Vulcan.
- Sasha Charles
- Chekov's academy classmate and girlfriend at the time of his Kobayashi Maru test.
- Robert Cecil
- Chekov's best friend at the academy.
- Alan Baasch
- Chekov's academy classmate and arch-rival.
- Tetsuo Inomata
- Sulu's great-grandfather, affectionately called "Poppy".
- Maria Theresa Perez-Salazar
- Sulu's academy classmate, and his first officer during his Kobayashi Maru test.
- Enterprise shuttlecraft.
- IKS Kh'yem
- Fictional Klingon battle cruiser faced in the Kobayashi Maru scenario, commanded by Commander Kozar.
- Kobayashi Maru
- Fictional 3rd class neutronic fuel carrier under Captain Kojiro Vance.
- USS Yorktown
- Constitution-class ship Cadet Chekov commanded a simulation of.
- USS Exeter
- Constitution-class ship Cadet Sulu commanded a simulation of.
- USS Saratoga
- Constitution-class ship Cadet Scott commanded a simulation of.
- 2244: Scotty's test.
- 2254: Kirk's test.
- 2259: Sulu's test.
- 2267: Chekov's test.
- 2273: The shuttle accident.
- The Kobayashi Maru at Wikipedia
- The Kobayashi Maru at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- The Kobayashi Maru at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
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