Tuesday, September 04, 2012


Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas John Scalzi

First off, I read and enjoyed the hell out of this book BEFORE I knew just how much I loved John Scalzi.

I enjoyed this book so much, I want to go read his other stuff, even though it's pretty standard SciFi which is not a genre I tend to read unless Han Solo is on the cover. (Not that I don't enjoy SciFi when I do read it, it's just something that's lower on the list of genres I enjoy, so I just tend to not pick it up.)


So the basic premis is that (Andy) Dahl, (Maia) Duvall, (Jimmy) Hanson, Finn, and Hester are all new crew members on the Intrepid, the Capital Ship of the Universal Union.

While they're excited to be at such a prestigious posting they quickly realize a few things-- the Intrepid has a startling high death rate. Away missions are suicide, unless you're a senior officer. Decks six through twelve have an even more unusually high death rate in battles. Every so often, things stop making sense and you find yourself saying the stupidest things, then it stops.

They meet Jenkins, who tells them what's going on, and warns them to steer clear of THE NARRATIVE.

But Dahl has a few ideas up his own sleeve and is tired of what's happening, and is going to fix it.

This book is in no way, shape, or form about the nameless red-shirted crew members on Star Trek who die right before commercial break so Shatner can get all dramatic. Nope. nope. nope. Not at all.

It's an entertaining premise, but I was worried going into it-- was the premise enough to carry the entire book? Or would it be a joke that got old in 50 pages but I still had to slog through the rest?

NO WORRIES. It's a joke that holds. Part of the reason is that Scalzi creates real characters and real relationships. Even though it's satire, it has much more depth and meaning than I was expecting. It's a great look at making your life (and death) matter, the art of writing, and taking charge of your destiny. All while being really funny. (I want a science box!)

With the exception of Star Wars, I'm not a huge SciFi nerd. I've never actually seen an entire episode of Star Trek (any version.) I haven't watched that much SciFi TV since SeaQuest went off the air. But Scalzi didn't just dash off a 314 page joke. He wrote a really good, really funny meta-story.

I mean, when one of the officers gets clued in to what's going on? BRILLIANT. (And hilarious.)

So, while this is part send-up, part love letter to cheesy SciFi, it's also a really good story, so you don't need to be well-versed in your cheesy SciFi to enjoy it.

I mean, it's a book that makes me want to read more in a genre I typically skip.

Like I said on the top, I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Book Provided by... my local library

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