Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Posted May 14, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Book Review: Redshirts by John ScalziRedshirts by John Scalzi
Genres: Fiction, Humorous, Science Fiction
Published by Tor on June 5, 2012
Pages: 317
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library


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 facts 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.

A science fiction parody about Star Trek…and be sure to learn the lesson from this! Avoid the Narrative!!

My Take
It starts off a bit lame with a ship’s crew and its leaders actually on an away mission. It’s just so dorky, and you start questioning why a captain of the ship would put himself in danger? Why wouldn’t the mission briefing be more complete? And it all starts to make sense when Dahl and company run into Jenkins.

It does ratchet pretty quickly into too-funny-for-words territory, and Scalzi makes you want to know the big secret behind the silliness in ship operations. If you’re a Star Trek fan, you already know, but it’s Jenkins explaining the Narrative that will crack you up, and then Nick’s analysis of his own handiwork that opens up the truth. Now if that ain’t incentive to work them words, keepin’ people alive…lol…

“Things quit making sense. The laws of physics take a coffee break. People stop thinking logically and start thinking dramatically.”

“…make a decision … take an action … It’s like an irresistable impulse …”

Sure explains all that jostling during a battle on the starship Enterprise, lol. That pants thing with Kerensky/Corey was too funny. It wasn’t the taking of them that was so hysterical, but the psychology of it and how it related.

You have GOT to read the codas at the end. Think of them as epilogues with good info. That first one is Nick’s, and you gotta wonder if Dahl is right what with all the mistakes Nick makes in this coda. You’ll get closure on Matthew’s recovery.The third one is hopeful with Samantha on a blind date, a lot more positive than the Intrepid‘s big finish. Too funny…Scalzi is very imaginative.

Persevere. It’s well worth it for the laughs and to see how they fix things.

The Story
No matter what, if you want to survive, do not be around when they need bodies for an away mission. ‘Cause that’s what you’ll be and Dahl, Duvall, Hanson, Finn, and Hester are determined to change Intrepid‘s luck. It’ll mean stealing a shuttle and kidnapping part of the crew to travel back in time.

The Characters
Ensign Andrew Dahl chose not to become a priest of the Forshan religion, partly because he simply couldn’t conform to some of the requirements — that one on self-impregnating for one. He also knows the four major dialects of the Forshan. Maia Duvall. Jimmy Hanson is the son of one of the richest men in the galaxy and Andy’s friend. Crewman Finn and Jasper Hester have been, sort of, shanghaied onto Intrepid. Finn’s a, um, creative seller while Hester is too desperate for friends.

The crew of the Intrepid includes:
Science Officer Q’eeng, Captain Lucius Abernathy, Chief Engineer Paul West, Medical Chief Hartnell, and Lieutenant Anatoly Kerensky, the astrogator and part of the bridge crew, who seems to lead almost all the away missions and has magical powers of recovery.

Jake Cassaway, Fiona Mbeke, Ben Trin, and Lieutenant Collins are assigned to Xenobiology; Jenkins used to be assigned there before his wife, Margaret, bought it.

Ensigns Davis and Chen really ratchet up the absurdity. Sid Black was taken by an ice shark.

Bullington is captain of the Nantes; Jer Weston is part of her crew.

The Box is a technical marvel which always delivers just in time. Casey Zane is a librarian friend of Dahl’s.

The Chronicles of the Intrepid
Brian Abnett is Dahl. Marc Corey plays Kerensky. Matthew Paulson, Hester on the show, is in a coma. Charles Paulson is the show’s producer. Judy Melendez is Paulson’s runner. Nick Weinstein is the chief writer. Samantha Martinez played Margaret for an episode.

The Cover
The cover is a close-up of a red shirt with a hint of neckline at the top and a pair of stretched out, curved diamonds holding a Dub U just below center, and the author’s name writ large in black while the title is smaller in a raised white.

The title is the clue, for it’s the Redshirts who are at risk.

Reviewed by Kathy Davie, who is fast gaining followers in Goodreads and Amazon for her honest book reviews. Passionate about reading, writing, and editing, she searches the Internet for tips, tricks, and warnings with a keen interest in ideas that will foster reading in children as well as adults while aiding writers in their craft. Kathy blogs daily at KD Did It Takes on Books.

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