Ever feel like your world is slightly off-kilter? That something is just slightly off.
Did you know that this sort of feeling is the atmosphere which good comedy grows out of?
I just finished reading an intriguing gem, a comedic novel, that centers around a pop cultist television Trope.
The novel is Redshirts and all you need to know, as a reader, before jumping into the book is what a Redshirt symbolizes.
What is a Redshirt? A Redshirt is an expendable doomed television/fictional character. The concept comes from the original Star Trek television series.
In the era regularly depicted in Star Trek: The Original Series (1966–1969), red uniforms were worn by members of the operations division. These characters normally performed security, engineering or support services (such as communications officers, administrators and yeomen) aboard starships and starbases. These characters were doomed; doomed, I say. They were the 99%, the non stars, and thus were expendable.
Redshirts, the novel, explores reality from their point of view.
As the book blurb explains:
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, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
I loved this book but to tell you why without “spoilers” is impossible. I loved this book even though I figured it out within the first fifty pages. I loved the novel. I loved the Codas (most reviewers I’ve come across do not get the point of the codas). Basically, I loved this book.
I will admit that I am biased. I regularly read the author’s blog and have been anticipating the book for months! John has written a lot of books; this is the first one that I have read. John Scalzi is a god (she wrote with a wry smile). Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook; Wil Wheaton is also a god.
For additional fun, there is a theme song (more books need to come with theme songs) to check out.
If you want to geek out over the cover art, you can do that here.
Even if you’re not a Science Fiction or pop culture geek, boldly go and read Redshirts; read it for the humour, read it for the laughs or read it just for fun.
A Novel with Three Codas
by John Scalzi
Tribbles & Bits is a recurring blog topic of mine. Tribbles and Bits is a way for me to let you know about a variety of things that I find interesting. The series title is based on an original Star Trek episode and a joke created by my ex…
What do pets eat on the Enterprise?
Tribbles and Bits.
It is the holiday season and I am contemplating traditions (or my lack there-of). Fiddler on the Roof (click the traditions link) is based on a Yiddish short story about a milkman. I found this about by reading the book, Outwitting History, which tells how one man set about to rescue as many Yiddish books as he could and ended up creating a library.
My mind wanders from connection to connection as I contemplate the childhood traditions I wish to keep.
I am a solitary creature. I find peace in oneness and meditation. My best “Christmas” was one spent completely alone but family obligations keep me from repeating this. I am trying, as I get older, to redefine how I want to spend the Winter holiday and how my mother/family wish me to spend it.
I choose to honour their traditions and practice mine in solitude (though I may have found a spiritual community more in tune with who I am now).
Local churches get together to ask; Would You Like To Hold The Baby and I answer yes. Rebirth, renewal and the hope that a new baby symbolizes is important to me. Nieces and nephews all have new babies and I relish the peace as I hold them and remember this is why I create traditions – to pass them on. Though I have no children of my own I have witnessed my actions/words in the familial generations that follow me.
I buy my sister, the grandmother, a Canadian Christmas book to share with her grandchildren. This is what I do – I bestow books; this book, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree is a Canadian-centered 12 days of Christmas. It is a perfect early present ideas.
I buy myself Ganog Chicken Bones. Yes, they have to be from Ganog and I usually buy them for myself because, it seems, many people do not know what they are. What they are is perfection; a pink sugar candy filled with just the right amount of chocolate and tasting like paradise – cinnamon and sugar and bittersweet chocolate.
I tried to explain them to my ex in Montreal. He was going to the store and I wanted him to pick me up some chicken bones. He has no idea what they were and I explained they were candy covered in a pink sugar coating with chocolate inside. He couldn’t get past the concept of actual chicken bones and this is what he saw – chicken bones covered in chocolate and pink ribbon candy. This was pre-internet, now I could search and find an image to show him – though it wouldn’t be as fun as the miscommunication was.
May your celebration of this season of holidays draw deep from the abundant joy, fierce hopes, and enduring traditions of all of our ancestors.
For the most part, I enjoyed my recent trip to Scotland. A lot of my fear centered on the “how” of getting there. If I would have had the time, i would have preferred to go by ship. It’s not the flying I minded as much as the complications around flying. Flying seems less civilized than it use to.
To go by ship, even though this would have meant a longer journey, seems calmer. I like to go places slowly. It helps me to acclimate. I hate going to sleep in one country and waking up in another. Though, not sleeping on the plane was worse. On my Scotland trip, I slept the whole way there because our plane was around eight hours late leaving. We all slept. On the way back, even though I lost time (such a strange concept – losing time), I only slept a little bit. After that I was bored and wanted to consistently whine – “Are we there yet?’
On a ship, there would have been time and space to wander in.
In my everyday life, I am a walker.
I walk to work in the morning; rain or sleet or snow or heat. I walk home in the afternoon; spring, summer, fall and winter. I walk to the shops – I’ve walked over two hours once or twice because it was nice and I was too impatient to wait and wait for the bus. I occasionally take the bus; if it is too humid and hot or when the wind chill is minus too darn cold to tolerate. I took a taxi last time to my doctor as it was an early morning appointment. I do not own a car. I do not want a car. I would consider car sharing – I do drive. I have on occasion rented a car.
I have always been a walker. I come from poverty. I grew up in a small town. My mother did not own a car or drive until I was a teenager. I walked miles out of town to see friends. I babysat and walked the girls to the pool every summer. I enjoy the quietness of walking. I don’t use headphones. I listen to the city. I am aware of my surroundings…
that is, when I don’t have my head in the clouds, day dreaming or my nose in a book that I just can’t put down even for a second. I ramble in my everyday life.
Why shouldn’t I then also want to ramble in my travels? I want the journey to be as pleasant, as leisured, and as slow as the destination. Or I want the travel to be instantaneous; one minute here; the next minute there. Like using the transporter on Star Trek…
I would worry though about my bits getting scrambled on the way. I wouldn’t want to arrive somewhere looking like I’ve gone through a fence.
So, how to travel without the stress of traveling when I have no time to meander? I like Flat Stanley‘s solution. Oh, to just be able to mail yourself somewhere. This is the no risk way to see the world. Shh; don’t spoil my happy with talk of logistics.
I want to know who walked here.
Here in Canada it was Victoria Day weekend so yesterday was a holiday.
A friend and I went to see the new Star Trek. She for the second time; me for the first.
I’m not a Trekkie. I couldn’t tell you most of the minutia of the Star Trek Canon. My friend probably could – the most minute details stick in her head. I’m much better at banal trivia.
So why was I interested in seeing this movie?
I’m old enough to remember the original series. It was a show my younger brothers watched and we girls ignored. I grew up in a one television household. We mostly watched T. V. in the summer. Mom only had a T.V. for her soaps and family friendly evening shows. When we went to visit my dad and my other siblings there were two televisions. (Dad worked as an electronics repairman). The television in the Living room was controlled by Dad and off when he wasn’t home. The T.V. in the Family room was ours – whoever got to it first controlled it. This would usually be the boys because the Family room was also their bedroom.
Thus, lots of Star Trek and other such shows. So, what I know of Star Trek I picked up in the back regions of my brain as I traveled through the Family room or sat reading in a back corner. And by watching my brothers. It was obvious they enjoyed the show a lot. What wasn’t always obvious was why. The original Star Trek wasn’t actually great literature!
However, It was okay background noise. There was an inter-species cast and comforting commonalities from week to week. There was a woman in the cast and, even though she didn’t get to do much, she was out there exploring space. It wasn’t hard to figure out what was going to happen, who was going to die, or who got the girl. Yes, Kirk was and is a man whore!
This new movie incarnation was familiar and fun. Lots of space and excitement and old friends. Uhura’s character was fleshed out. Maybe she’ll get more responsibility in the next movie and become more of a feminist (please). And it would be nice to see more alien races studying at Starfleet.
But, for now, for me, it was a perfect summer movie to see on the big screen. My television at home is barely bigger than my computer screen – there are just some movies that I need to see in the theater.
Movies like Star Trek and last year’s Die Hard and next week’s Terminator! It is summer. The season for loud noises, bar fights, excitement and men chasing each other with loud, noisy vehicles. When do I get my turn to shoot at things and be destructive?