Redshirts is Scalzi’s homage to classic the Star Trek television series, where nameless extras, usually wearing red shirts, were routinely sacrificedRedshirts is Scalzi’s homage to classic the Star Trek television series, where nameless extras, usually wearing red shirts, were routinely sacrificed on the altar of silly plot lines. You can imagine Scalzi thinking, as he watched one of these old shows, “Wait a minute. Don’t these guys realize that beaming down to a planet with the captain means their untimely death?” And then running with the story of how a group of underlings deal with the absurdity that seems destined to come their way.
It winds up being an odd book. I liked it, I did. But the whole “novel” portion really does feel like a television show, light on the depth and quick to find a hackneyed solution to the problem posed at the start. Scalzi added three codas at the end which explore (relatively quickly) the ramifications of the core novel from the perspectives of other bit players in the narrative. And, interestingly, since these aren't part of the “television episode” part of the book, they feel much deeper and connect much better to me, the reader.
Kind of proving that the core novel really *is* supposed to be mostly gloss and silliness.
If you’re in the mood for goofy, quick novels this is a good one.
Essentially, this is the story of humanity's first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence, without the magic of warp drives, woSo. Hm. Existence.
Essentially, this is the story of humanity's first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence, without the magic of warp drives, wormholes, or other mechanisms to cheat Einstein. And done in a way that's meant to fit the reality of Fermi's Paradox (why is the sky silent?).
The first 60% of the novel is just wonderful. It's got Brin's touch of connecting just-out-of-reach technology with social optimism, and finding fascinating ways it all flows together. (The idea of a "smart-mob" is here, and terrific.) Reading this kind of conjecture always makes me feel smarter, and that the text is more than just mere escapism.
The last 40% though gets a bit more silly. Some plot threads get dropped entirely, and there are at least a few pieces of "then many years pass..." which left me wanting more. (Though, perhaps, that "more" would have been worse. It's hard to know.) It does feel a bit like "I need to fill out my outline to meet my deadlines" kind of writing. It's quality, but it's missing the punch of the earlier portions of the book.
I'm still giving the book 5 of 5 stars, though. There are a lot of neat things to think about in here, and generally speaking, it is a very well crafted yarn....more
One of the other reviews I read for this book called it "Nostalgia Porn" and that seems like a hugely accurate descriptor. If you're actually in the sOne of the other reviews I read for this book called it "Nostalgia Porn" and that seems like a hugely accurate descriptor. If you're actually in the set of people to whom that nostalgia resonates, this book is fantastic. If you're a young teen who likes hunt for treasure stories, you'll probably like it too.
This is the story of a hunt in virtual reality through 1980s video games and movies. A rather desperate hunt actually, in a fascinating virtual world and in a devastated real world. There are puzzles, which are fun (and which I was quite proud of solving faster than the protagonist), and there is a light touching of the deeper philosophical implications of a populace that spends most of it's time (both leisure and work) in a virtual landscape.
If you aren't a 1980s geek, this book may have very little for you. But if you played old text adventures between your Dungeons & Dragons games, you are smack dab in the middle of this book's target demographic and will probably have a great time. Those descriptor certainly describe me, and I absolutely did have a great time. (And for what it's worth, my teenage, treasure-hunting son loved it too.)
This is the third and final novel in Grant’s “Newsflesh” trilogy, and was wonderful. To start: don’t bother with the book until you’ve read the firstThis is the third and final novel in Grant’s “Newsflesh” trilogy, and was wonderful. To start: don’t bother with the book until you’ve read the first two novels. This set is quite bad for starting in the middle.
But oh, what a great novel this is. You might think that the book would be one fight versus zombies after another, but the Zombie Apocalypse really is simply the backdrop for what this story is *really* about: government agency conspiracy.
And it was fun. Grant’s writing really grips me and draws me in: she does a great job concentrating on her characters and really bringing them to life. These novels understand that the relationships between people and the expression of that relationship is where the humanity and heart of a good story lie, and that understanding really shines through.
Her characters also have to deal with a world that’s been messed with in a terrifying yet fascinating way, and the way they deal with that has been a highlight (for me) of the whole series.
I’m a big fan of these books. You could do far worse than spend your beach time nestled up with them.