James Kirk cheated to beat the Kobayashi Maru in Star Trek lore.
By now everyone knows the Star Trek story of the Kobayashi Maru and James Kirk. For those who don’t, he cheated. There, wasn’t too long. Though, perhaps a bit more back story is needed. The Kobayashi Maru is an “unwinnable” practice scenario designed by Starfleet and Spock to test the decision-making of a starship captain in a no-win scenario. How does one react in that situation? Well, in Kirk’s case, he cheated.
This has been visited twice, once in novel form and once in the 2009 film, Star Trek. In the film, Kirk overrides the program and is able to easily dispatch the Klingon attackers while eating an apple and joyously defeating the enemies, all while Spock and Starfleet officers look on wondering how Kirk did it.
He’s eventually brought to a hearing to decide his fate, but the Romulan Nero had other plans that day.
Yet, did you know the novel form told the same story but was actually believable?
The novel adds substance.
The scenario, named after the ship you’re trying to save, essentially asks the captains to decide one of two scenarios; abandon the Kobayashi Maru to the Klingons and avoid war, or try to save the crew of the Kobayashi Maru from a fate worse than death. Hence the “no-win” scenario nature of the simulation.
In 1989, a novel called The Kobayashi Maru came out and depicted how Kirk cheated to beat the scenario and how exactly he did so. In the film version, Kirk, almost childishly, finger shoots the Klingon ships and laughs as they’re all destroyed. A very “Hollywood” scene.
In the novel, however, Kirk and his fictitious crew get their butts handed to them but before they’re destroyed the Klingons stop their attack, instead, respecting Kirk and his ship’s preservence. Having won the Klingons over with his battle-hardened approach, the Klingons depart and leave the two Starfleet ships alone.
Kirk believes that his reputation as a captain, once he takes over the chair, would afford him some leeway with the likes of the Klingons and would therefore be given more respect than your traditional Starfleet captain. It’s a sound opinion and part of the reason why Starfleet rewarded his “original thinking” as opposed to suspending him like in the 2009 film.
The book’s handling of the event shows a Kirk who’s thinking 10 moves ahead, which is why its the better representation of the events.