Redshirts: A No Spoilers Review

August 5, 2012 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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.

You must, MUST I say, check out the art contest and winner.

Finally, get your own red shirt here or go to the Tor link to explore more wardrobe possibilities.

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
Tor Books


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