Customer Reviews for

Redshirts

Average Rating 4
( 141 )
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(61)

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(42)

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(20)

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(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

Entertaining and quick read

I have an inherent fondness for Scalzi books. He and I share a similar sense of humor and of drama. Redshirts is a great example of what I'm talking about here. This is a darkly humorous book, somewhat of a send-up of Star Trek, but told from the point of view of the "r...
I have an inherent fondness for Scalzi books. He and I share a similar sense of humor and of drama. Redshirts is a great example of what I'm talking about here. This is a darkly humorous book, somewhat of a send-up of Star Trek, but told from the point of view of the "redshirts" of the crew, those extras whose sole job it is to die horrible deaths so that we know our heroes are in danger. In this case, the protagonists of the book are newly graduated cadets of a Universal Union who all score the most prestigious posting in the Fleet, the Intrepid. As far as they know, they live in a normal universe, leading relatively normal lives. They bond over drinks in the space station bar before the shuttle takes them to their new home. Once aboard the Intrepid, they start to notice that things are very odd there. Whenever the Captain, the Science Officer, the Engineer, or any of the other "main cast" crew members are walking down the corridor, all of the other crew members suddenly find reasons not to be found. Our protagonists discover why, as they go on "away missions" and barely survive. As they talk with other crew members (once they survive their "initiation"), they discover that for some reason, the rules of physics and statistics are severely bent out of shape in the presence of the "main cast" officers.

There were a few editorial oversights with mixed up names and such. I can generally overlook that, but it was jarring this time. Also, some of the names of the protagonists are visually similar and it took me a while to sort out which backstory belonged to which character. But the biggest complaint I had with the novel was that it seemed to end too soon. I don't mean the book was short; I mean that it felt like one of those TV shows where everything looks like it's wrapped up neatly but you still have fifteen minutes to go, so you expect that there's some big twist that's just about to happen to make the story that much more interesting. This novel seems to set up such a big twist, but then suddenly ends. It was disappointing because that apparent big twist had such potential.

After the main story ends, the book has three "codas", extensions of the main story with characters that were featured in the main story but were not the main characters. Each of these codas were interesting additions to the story in very unique ways. The first coda is a first-person narrative told in blog/epistolary form. The second coda is written in second-person, a very unusual and difficult style that rarely works. This time I thought it did, exploring the thoughts and feelings of someone who has been told he was in a terrible accident with severe brain damage, and is trying to account for a couple of weeks missing from his memory. Finally, the third coda is in... you guessed it, third person, which tells the story of an actor who learns how profoundly and positively affected someone was by her portrayal of a bit part character, someone who had all of a couple of minutes of screen time. It's sweet and perfectly caps a story line from the main story.

posted by jkusters on June 9, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

A Good Quick Read

It should be said that your enjoyment of this book will likely hinge on being, at least in some small way, a fan of classic Star Trek. And in poking fun of the same old tropes, it uses them all, some repeatedly. I was left wondering if I would have gotten more enjoyment...
It should be said that your enjoyment of this book will likely hinge on being, at least in some small way, a fan of classic Star Trek. And in poking fun of the same old tropes, it uses them all, some repeatedly. I was left wondering if I would have gotten more enjoyment from a standard episode of the show than I did this satirical send up. But that probably says more about my personal tastes than the quality of Mr. Scalzi's work. All in all, it was quite enjoyable.

posted by 339600 on June 20, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    Hilarious and well written

    I enthusiastically recommend.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    You need only know two things to sum up my thoughts on Redshirts

    You need only know two things to sum up my thoughts on Redshirts by John Scalzi: while listening to the book, I laughed out loud and I cried. I don't often cry when reading books. The last time was the seventh Harry Potter book, but I expected to when I cracked that book. When I cued up the audiobook of Redshirts, I didn't even see it coming, which is, to be honest, better. So, if you want to stop reading this review right now, go ahead. If you want more details, read on.

    Redshirts is John Scalzi's parody/love letter to Star Trek. After a funny yet unexpected prologue, the novel introduces Ensign Andrew Dahl, newly assigned to the starship Intrepid, the flagship of the Universal Union. (Think Enterprise) Dahl and his new group of friends start to get accustomed to their new duties and lives aboard the Intrepid but the seasoned crew members all act weird. It soon becomes apparent that the members of the Away Missions (off the ship for you non-Trekkies) always seem to face some heretofore alien presence. Said alien almost always inflicts bodily injury or death to a member of the away team, yet the senior command staff never suffer any harm. It's as if the lower staff members are jinxed to die if they go on the missions.

    Where Scalzi provides the bulk of his humor, early on, is in the myriad ways the crew employ to avoid going on an away mission. Naturally, Dahl gets himself assigned to one and, while he is injured quite badly, he survives. The other crew member does not. As a long-time fan of Trek, I was laughing at all the obvious references to actions done in a 1960s-era television show for dramatic purposes and what really might have happened were all this stuff real. Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, provides the narration with just enough snark to truly bring out the best in Scalzi's prose. He reads the boisterous captain's lines with gusto, the science officer's lines with calm precision, and the rest of Dahl's friends with skepticism that borders on incredulity.

    Now, the story turns on a plot device that I loved. In fact, as a seasoned crew member gathers Dahl and his friends to explain his theory as to why all these occur on Away Missions, I had a thought: what if Scalzi did This Thing? Well, cool as it is, he did. I will not give it away here because I want you to be surprised.

    The full title of the book is Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas. In short, these are three epilogues that resolve some of the more human aspects of the story and, for me, these are what gave this book its emotional depth. In the final two codas, I was listening while doing something else which is one of the best reasons to listen to audiobooks. As the second coda wound down, I paused and felt the tears sting my eyes. You know, I thought, if that coda got me this way, I knew I was in for it as soon as I learned the subject of the final coda. I had to get up and walk away from everyone as I listened to the last coda. It got me, and it got me good. It got me so good, in fact, that, later that day, I could barely get through a retelling of the story to my wife without breaking down. Not sure she's ever seen me that way over a book.

    You know what? I haven't seen myself that way, either. I loved this book, both for the laughter and the tears. It moved me, and isn't that what a great story is supposed to do?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    Great scifi romp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Frakkin awesome

    A really fantastic.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2012

    More than just a Sci-Fi Parody

    If you've been a geek for any length of time you pretty much know what this books is about - The "RedShirts" from Star Trek, always doomed to die when they go on an away team with named members of the "cast".

    I am a long time Scalzi fan and I went in expected a funny parody/sci-fi romp. I certainly got that, but I also go an unexpectedly philosophical look on what it is to be alive. A surprisingly deep take on a pretty silly sci-fi trope.

    The main book is a quick, fun read and the 3 "codas" which follow it give some nice closure three of the side characters in the main novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    Entertaaining and funny

    If you are even the slightest bit of a star trek fan you will get a kick out of this book. I wish my dad was still alive. I would love to laugh with him over this book.

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    Up To The Scalzi-ian Standard

    Much like Old Man's War, I could not put this book down. I am glad that I did not read the free preview that was available, or I would have been miserable until the book came out. Redshirts had everything that I look for in a book, and added so much more. Now I have to wait for the next Scalzi book, and that makes me a little sad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    VERY VERY Funny!

    You'll be in stitches from the very first chapter!

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  • Posted June 5, 2012

    If you've read other Scazi books and liked them, this is up to h

    If you've read other Scazi books and liked them, this is up to his usual standards and you should read it too.
    If you haven't, Scalzi writes fast paced plot driven stories with plenty of twists and turns and a somewhat sarcastic sense of humor. That describes this book too.

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