J. Bennett's Reviews > Redshirts

Redshirts by John Scalzi
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it was amazing

When Andrew Dahl steps onto the Intrepid, the prize jewel of the United Union's space fleet, he looks forward to exploring the universe and making new scientific discoveries. His first "away" mission is a brutal wake up call that something is not right on the ship. Suddenly, he begins to understand why his lab mates rush out for coffee or duck into the supply closet whenever a senior officer comes by looking for volunteers for away missions. Fellow crew mates continue to be gored, eaten and liquefied on away missions while the senior staff seem to always survive, bruised but alive, to face another day. What is happening aboard the Intrepid, and what is the mysterious "Dramatic Narrative" that seems intent on killing Dahl and all of his friends?

Redshirts is a sweet gift to anyone who has knowingly lapped up the crazy improbability of old (and some not so old) space adventures where drama outweighs plausibility and faceless crew are torn to pieces as a picker upper before the commercial break. Author John Scalzi puts his fingers perfectly on the pulse of these cult shows and breathes life into the poor red shirts that are so often blasted, torn to shreds, and crushed in the background while the heroic officers save the day.

I loved Scalzi's insight and felt that this book was truly written for me. Scalzi has a gift for witty dialogue and proves himself to be a masterful plotter. The story twists and turns and balances precariously on a crazy premise that does justice to the very genre he unmasks.

This brilliant and hilarious roast of the traditional SciFi genre will ring true to any Star Trek fan. This book literally had be laughing and sputtering out loud on a number of occasions (good sputtering).

The codas at the end were strange little offshoots into the fallout of the main plot of the book. To me, they felt almost like writing exercises, perhaps because each coda switched perspectives, from first person to second person and then into third person. At first, I felt the codas took away from the main story, stringing it along and using up the good "Pow!" of the ending. However, the farther I read, the more I came to appreciate these small windows into the souls of minor characters. In a book all about the extras, Scalzi took time to give us a look at his own extras.

This clever and funny book has earned its five stars, in my opinion, but I do wish Scalzi would have provided more detail. The entire purpose of this novel was to shine the spotlight on the extras, to give them names and thoughts and souls. Yet, Scalzi writes them as talking heads, without features, quirks or any tactile detail. In fact, his entire book is almost bereft of all but the most essential details, instead powered by witty dialogue and a well-paced plot.

Still, this book is definitely a keeper for me. I'm definitely recommending it to all my Star Trek geek fans!

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Reading Progress

March 11, 2014 – Shelved
March 11, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
March 15, 2014 – Finished Reading

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