Book Review: Redshirts

I’ve made a terrible mistake. I should have learned my lesson. I just reviewed a humorous novel last week. I just wrote about the problem with discussing humor, where the selling point is so personal and spoilers are doubly destructive. So no, we won’t talk about that again (too late, I know).

So, what to say about Redshirts

I guess we’ll join this away team, hold our breath, and hope The Narrative passes us by. 

The Basics:

Title: Redshirts
Author: John Scalzi
Genre: Science-Fiction, satire, humor
Publisher: Tor, 2012

Spoiler-Free Summary: 

Everything about this situation is…

Andy Dahl is a new ensign aboard the Federation Universal Union flagship, the Enterprise Intrepid. From the jump, something is off about this new assignment. When officers are near, everyone around him finds a reason to become incredibly busy. When not sprinting from station to station, they hide. The reason for this reticence soon reveals itself: The Intrepid is the most lethal ship in the galaxy. At least one crew member, usually more, dies on every away mission. It is not a matter of if, but when your number is called. Survival means avoiding, shirking, and throwing your fellow crew members under the bus. 

Andy won’t take it lying down. He seeks out a ghost in the machine, and drags his fellow newbies on a high stakes adventure across the universe almost guaranteed to fail. Staring certain death in the face, they comfort themselves knowing that, at the very least, they will have tried. 

Why this book might be for you:

Looking up, (remember one paragraph ago? Good times!) the summary makes Redshirts sound like a grim thriller. Nothing could be further from the truth. Using gallows humor and gut-busting parody, Redshirts lampoons everything familiar about the space opera genre with affectionate wit. 

Scalzi writes with a clear, crisp style that I personally find appealing: 90% action and dialogue. It moves the story along briskly.

But, none of that matters. I can tell you if you’ll love Redshirts in three questions: 

  1. Do you love Star Trek
  2. Do you recognize Star Trek’s flaws? 
  3. Can you laugh at said flaws? 

If you answer “yes” to these three questions, you will love Redshirts

Alternative test: Can you laugh at this BSG pun?

Where can you find more?

Gee, that Scalzi guy sure has written a lot of books. Check ’em out.

Happy reading, folks.

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