by John Scalzi
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Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 148 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great concept, funny enough, decently told. Way too short (especially for the money). Ironically, in a book about how extras are abused for ease of writing, nearly all the characters are as forgettable as Security Guard #2.
Zot79 More than 1 year ago
Well, that was fun. If that sounds like faint praise, it might be. I'd been anticipating this book ever since I heard Mr. Scalzi read the prolog during his tour for Fuzzy Nation. Perhaps I pushed my expectations for it too high. Even so, it was fun. In case you can't tell from the title, or haven't bothered to read the backcover blurb, this is a book about the phenomenon of the high mortality rate among low-ranking starship crew members during away missions. When Mr. Scalzi read the aforementioned prolog and asked the audience to guess at the title, the almost unanimous response was "Red Shirt" (if you still don't get it, watch an episode of Star Trek with the original crew). This story is told from the viewpoint of the low ranked crew and the lengths they go to in order to avoid assignment to away missions or being stationed on decks that always seem to get opened into space during battle. What they discover about their situation and how they choose to deal with it came as a bit of surprise and a bit of a disaappointment. I'd hoped for a different direction. But decided to go along for the ride and mostly enjoyed it. What works in this book is the fast pace and snarky, inside-joke humor. If you get a joke, you're grinning. If you don't, another is coming right up. What doesn't completely work (although I couldn't put my finger on it at first), is that same fast pace. It focuses on dialog and moving the plot along, at the expense of description and introspection. The characters are often difficult to distinguish (you have to remember their names) and scenes take place in featureless voids. Even so, it was fun. I wish I could give it another half of a star.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book tremendously. This book takes a comedic look at the science fiction short cuts some of our favorite TV shows have taken. As long as you are able to suspend your disbelief, this is a great read!
timeliebe More than 1 year ago
::POSSIBLE SPOILERS - POSSIBLE SPOILERS - POSSIBLE SPOILERS - POSSIBLE SPOILERS: REDSHIRTS takes its name from the contemptuous slang term for Security crewmembers on STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES - you remember, the ones who always got killed when they went on missions led by Kirk, Spock and/or McCoy? In this story, Ensign Andrew Dahl comes aboard the Universal Union's Interstellar flagship INTREPID raring to go - only to find out there are lots of things that happen on-board that don't make any sense...including, most disturbingly, the sky-high fatality rate among junior officers who go on "Away Teams" (off-ship missions) led by the Captain, the Science Officer, the Chief Medical Officer, or the eternally luckless but still alive Lt. Kerensky. Dahl and a handful of other recently-transferred junior officers, with the initially reluctant aid of a crazed longtime crewman who lost his wife on an Away Team, begin to piece together the awful truth - that they're throwaway characters on a not-very-good SF television series.... Yes, the premise isn't original, but it's the wittiness and touches of genuine poignancy that Scalzi (OLD MAN'S WAR, THE ANDROID'S DREAM - both of which I've read and liked) brings to the tale that make it worth reading for fans of STAR TREK (the series is explicitly not set in the TREK Universe, and TREK in fact gets mentioned as a television franchise in the book's universe), SF in general, humorous novels, and works of meta fiction. It asks questions about the responsibility of writers to their characters, the nature of reality and fiction, the life stories of those we only know about thanks to a tragic event, and so on. For a book that seems like a goof, it has bits or thematic richness that come back to you later and make you think.
mbgPA More than 1 year ago
The ending plot twist is very reminiscent of late Heinlein books. When he couldn't resolve the plot, PFM (Pure F..king Magic) happened and the problem was resolved. At least, in this book, the plot heads toward and prepares you for the ending. I like the way John Scalzi writes and will continue to purchase his books.
Doc_Rocketscience More than 1 year ago
For a book that, at it's heart, is a series of tropes and cliches, John Scalzi has taken a huge risk here. And it pays off. This is book is [i]clever[/i]. It exists entirely to be clever. And Scalzi pushes the limits of how clever he can be. What Redshirts never is, though, is "too clever by half". It manages to stay grounded and focused, even as Scalzi stacks cleverness in top of cleverness, as he gets meta about getting meta, as he deconstructs his own deconstructions of the sci-fi television series.
Neebs More than 1 year ago
Had me laugh a few times, smile several and finished like a champ.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This isbthe first Scalzi book i read and resulted in me reading all of his other books and ensuring that he's added to my "must read author's list." The concept of Red Shirts is very novel and well written. Character development is top notch. The storh is not predictable. All around a very fun read.
danthebookman71 More than 1 year ago
Any geek worth his or her salt will know where the title for this book came from. For those of you who aren’t Sci-Fi nerds, it comes from Star Trek and a “redshirt” is a low ranking crew member who accompanies the Captain and other bridge officers on dangerous missions away from the ship. The redshirts almost always die. This concept is so ingrained into Star Trek lore, that J.J. Abrams even included it in his movie re-booting the franchise a few years ago. Here, Scalzi puts his own unique — and hilarious — spin on the idea in his newest novel.  Regular readers of my reviews may remember what a huge fan I am of John Scalzi, and will note that I have blogged about several of his books before. So, suffice it to say, that I’ve really, really been looking forward to this one! Ensign Andrew Dahl is a recent graduate of Space Fleet Academy and newly assigned to the Universal Union’s flagship vessel Intrepid. He makes a few friends with other new crewmen (and women) while waiting to board the ship and as soon as he’s on board he’s approached by the Chief Science Officer, Q’eeng. Dahl is accompanied to his assigned department (Xenobiology) and on the way Q’eeng asks him if he if he is interested in participating in away missions. Dahl isn’t necessarily keen to leave the ship on any dangerous missions, but he gets the impression that Q’eeng wants him to agree, so he does. After a few strange incidents in the Xenobiology lab, he and his friends discuss the odd start to their assignments in the mess hall — and they all seem to have noticed some of the same strange things about the U.U. ship Intrepid. Everyone on board, from bridge officers to department heads, to crewmen (and women), behaves VERY strangely about away missions. Soon, Dahl and some fellow ensigns accompany a couple of Lieutenants to a space station which emitted a distress call to which the Intrepid has responded. The two away teams find themselves in some very deep doo-doo because the machines on board the space station have gone berserk and are killing all the humans. Needless to say, once the survivors have returned to their ship, Ensign Dahl and his crewmates begin to put two and two together about why everyone board is so twitchy about away missions and working directly with the bridge officers. As the tagline on the front of the book says, “They were expendable … until they started comparing notes.” What follows is a rollicking send up of that old sci-fi show we geeks love, which also has some thought-provoking big ideas and "meta-ness" behind it. If you liked Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series of books, if you enjoyed the movie Galaxy Quest, and definitely if you are a Fan of Star Trek (Trekkie or Trekker), you have got to read this new novel by this award-winning author and all around cool guy.
Swany6mm More than 1 year ago
This book had me laughing from the get go. I grew up on Star Trek and even though it goes so far as to make sure you understand it's NOT spoofing S.T. (oh come ON, you KNOW it is!), it does a GREAT job of picking on ALL Sci Fi shows along those lines. There were times where the book seemed to get a little slow, and some things felt a little "forced" (no, I don't mean Star Wars, I mean as in the author kind of jammed a couple things in there un-natural like), but, over all, this book is a good read for anyone who likes Sci Fi and a MUST READ for Trekies ;)
Brown419 More than 1 year ago
This book is excellent, It takes all the adventure of Star Trek and combines the excitement that only a written page can give.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I came back to finish this book after a two-year hiatus at the 50% mark. I wasn't a fan of the change of tone, pace, or time-place. But today I was of a mind to finish this book, and I'm glad I did. The characters and the philosophizing made it worthwhile. The meta is strong in this one, but it's got heart. 4 stars.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Redshirts by John Scalzi is a very highly recommended sci-fi spoof; I heart Redshirts with all the hearty heartness a heart can heart. (Borrowed from Scalzi) Why on earth did I wait so long to read Redshirts? There were several parts that left me laughing so hard I was gasping for breath with tears in my eyes. (The magic box, pants.... okay, let me get it back together again.) Redshirts deserved the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. It should be almost a given fact that anyone who would want to read Redshirts knows that if you wore a redshirt, you were a disposable character in the original Star Trek series. "Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on 'Away Missions' alongside the starship's famous senior officers." Immediately, Dahl notices that the experienced crew members avoid Captain Abernathy, science officer Q'eeng, and astrogator Kerensky, especially if their appearance has anything to do with finding members for an away mission. It is well known that every away mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces and at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Oddly enough, Captain Abernathy, Q'eeng, and Kerensky always survive. Although Kerensky is often wounded, he always recovers remarkably quickly. The lower ranking crew members all know that in order to survive, you must not go on an away mission. Even more startling is what Dahl discovers through the ship's hermit, Jenkins. Once he and his trusted colleagues figure out what is really going on they need to devise a plan to stop it and save more redshirts from certain death. The story of Dahl on the Intrepid is told in the first two-thirds of the novel. This is followed by three codas set in 2012 which finish the story. I savored every part of this novel. Scalzi's writing is incredible. In Redshirts, he creates a hilarious parody of bad science fiction shows, but more importantly it highlights how bad science, lazy writers, inconsistent plots, and killing off characters just to keep the tension high can detrimentally affect a series and reflect adversely on the shows fans. Good writing, real science, developing characters beyond clichés of a type, and believable plots can make the same show even better. The codas pull it all together and give it depth - questioning what is real and what is fiction?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Has the concept been done, yes. But this really is a great twist on looking at the problems created in bad SF, while remaining cognisant of plot and humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DavidWiley More than 1 year ago
This was my first time getting to read a Scalzi novel (trust me, it won’t take another 31 years to read my second!) and I was absolutely delighted with this book. I can’t thank my local library enough for giving John Scalzi in the long list of recommendations for what I could read as part of my 2016 Reading Challenge. The book delivered on what I had expected based on its premise: humor, sarcasm, wit, and fun. I found myself struggling to keep the laughter in while sitting next to my wife, as I did not want to disturb her reading. But there were times when that was simply not possible. The story itself covers the first 2/3 of the book, and that was easily the fun romp of a story I was needing. The final third is broken down into three parts, or Codas, with each one covering a smaller story with a character that had appeared during the story. It is a break from the light-hearted fun of the main story, but each of them is interesting in its own right and are certainly entertaining in a different way. While I found myself missing the main story (it was disappointing that it had ended so soon!) I did find those Codas to be enjoyable. And they were a little more serious in style, which allowed them to explore some deeper issues than would be expected during the main story in Redshirts. I would certainly recommend this book, of course, to anyone who was is a fan of Star Trek as you will get more out of the humor than a non-Trek fan. Anyone who is looking for a light, fast, humorous read should seriously consider picking this one up as well. Sci-Fi fans in general would be wise not to miss this book. The only caution would be that the book is best suited for older teens and up, based on some language and content. Final verdict: Read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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It's clever but not worth parting with money to read.
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