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Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John…

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas (original 2012; edition 2012)

by John Scalzi

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1,449None5,151 (3.84)1 / 173
Title:Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Tor Books (2012), Edition: First Ed, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Redshirts by John Scalzi (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
When I finished this book, I savored it until the last page, then slammed it shut resolutely and announced to the empty room, "Well that was fucking awesome."

It was. Just the premise alone was sheer genius because who among us hasn't felt pity for Ensign No-Name, blithely joining the away-team in his pristine red shirt, completely unaware of his impending doom? This book is cleverly written, and just in case you didn't understand that John Scalzi is a master of The Narrative, he finishes with a series of codas from differing points of view that will leave you satisfied, happy, and whole at the end. All is right with the universe. ( )
  Johanna_Talbott | Apr 7, 2014 |
4.5 stars Originally posted at FanLit.

"This is the part where you run and scream a lot."

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Intrepid, a spaceship that has the reputation of killing off most of its non-essential crew. The captain and senior officers and one or two especially good-looking guys always come back from planetary ??awayƒ? missions alive (though often mangled up a bit), but always, always, at least one, and often many more, of the crew is killed. When Dahl and a few other new recruits begin investigating, they discover that the statistics just donƒ??t work out right. There is definitely something weird going on. With the help of a computer hacker who hides in the bowels of the ship, they set out to get some answers and make a discovery that completely changes how they view the world.

Iƒ??d love to tell you more about the clever plot of Redshirts, but I donƒ??t want to give it away. I hope itƒ??s enough to say that I was delighted from the first page and I laughed a lot. Redshirts is a spoof of Star Trek; the title refers to the ever-changing expendable red-shirted crewmen who go down to the planets with Kirk, Spock, Bones, et al., but usually donƒ??t return. Most Trekkies are sure to find it hilarious. Though Scalzi mocks Star Trek plot clich??s, thereƒ??s a sincere sense of affection and nostalgia for Star Trek that I found charming. Also charming is the reminder that all those expendables have real lives, too.

Redshirts is self-aware metafiction divided into three parts: a novel and three codas. While the novel is a comedy, the codas are meant to make us think about life and death and our place in the universe. The conceit starts to wear a little thin by the second coda, but rebounds for a gut-wrenching twist at the end. If you donƒ??t like metafiction, Redshirts may not be for you, though Iƒ??d encourage you to try it anyway, especially if youƒ??re a Star Trek fan.

I listened to Audible Frontiersƒ?? audio production of Redshirts which was read by Wil Wheaton. I donƒ??t know if Wil Wheatonƒ??s narrations are always so good, because Iƒ??ve only heard him narrating novels written by John Scalzi, but let me just say that in my experience, Scalzi Wheaton = a brilliant performance. Wil Wheaton totally ƒ??getsƒ? John Scalziƒ??s characters (and itƒ??s not just because he used to play an ensign on Star Trek). If youƒ??re an audio reader, you definitely want to read Redshirts in that format. If youƒ??re not an audio reader, Redshirts could convert you. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
My teenager picked up this book to read. A big Star Trek fan (but not quite a Trekkie), I could see how this book appealed to him.

I have never read Scalzi although I see he has quite a few publications out there. I started reading this book because I loved the whole satire/humor combination. The lives of people on a spaceship in the future is controlled by the writers of a TV series in the past. What Scalzi is doing here is parodying the beloved Star Trek series and its' propensity to kill off minor characters, particularly those wearing redshirts.

I thought the concept was great however, felt Scalzi missed the mark. The characters were flat and the writing felt rushed. Actually the whole story seemed rushed. I was quite disappointed when it was over.

A story of this concept works off of a time/space conundrum which can be tricky. The author needs to ensure that his train of thought is clear and concise and worded carefully to avoid confusion. Scalzi failed here and I found I was constantly re-reading chapters for clarification.

A cute concept but it didn't quite reach its' potential. ( )
1 vote NancyNo5 | Mar 29, 2014 |
Ah, Scalzi. You never disappoint.

This book feels less epic than "Fuzzy Nation", which felt even less epic than "Old Man's War". It's good, but not great. If you're a Star Trek nerd, you've already heard all the jokes. It's really just a throwaway sci-fi cliche, drawn out very, very long. But only Scalzi could write a book like that and make it good. Although, as you can tell on the cover, the book has to tack on three codas and still falls short of 90,000 words.

It feels like nothing that happens really matters, because the main characters have no faces, no personality (although that might be the point). It might work as a high-level pitch, but not in fiction. Not if you want the reader to latch onto the characters and sympathize. The ending(s) feel syrupy and forced. I heard a lot of people were crying at the end, but I wasn't one of them. Because the characters did not offer enough emotional capital to invest in.

I feel like it's spread out too thin. I can almost see in the text that Scalzi was stretched too thin to give this book as much polish and thought as his other books. That it's the result of being SFWA president, and taking care of a family, and a blog, and conventions, and all sorts of other things that I'm sure came up. ( )
1 vote theWallflower | Mar 17, 2014 |
On the Intrepid, the space fleet’s flagship, it’s a well-known fact that it’s wise to try and avoid away missions. Especially if these involve the captain, the chief science officer, the lead engineer, the doctor, or the dashing lieutenant Kerensky. Because these missions always involve mortal danger, and always lead to the death of at least one low-ranking member of the crew. Everybody knows this, and a whole culture on loopholes and the noble art of being somewhere else has evolved. But what nobody seems to know, or even reflect over, is WHY. Not until Dahl and his fellow rookies stumble onto the hermit Jenkins, the “Yeti in the walls”, and learn of his wild and crazy theory about “The narrative”.

This is a clever piece of meta-fiction with more than one twist. Kept mostly light and humorous, towards the end it still digs a little deeper into what constitutes a life and how we depend on each other. It’s not at all bad. The characters are more than a bit flat though (which is a tad troublesome, since the difference between a badly written cutout and a real person is a major point in the book), occasionally, to use Claire’s words, “hardly making two dimensions”, and I must say I was a little surprised at how weak it felt stylistically. It’s clear Scalzi is a scriptwriter – once he gets to write pure dialogue passages, it flows so much better.

The last three “coda chapters” are probably the best thing about the book for me (despite the second person ploy that just feels unnecessary), adding depth and a sense of realness to the whole thing, and pushing the book up slightly above average. The last part even moves me. ( )
4 vote GingerbreadMan | Mar 5, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Scalziprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hayden, Patrick NielsenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lutjen, PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Redshirts is dedicated to the following:

To Will Wheaton, whom I heart with all the hearty heartiness a heart can heart;

To Mykal Burns, my friend since the TRS-80 days at the Glendora Public Library;

And to Joe Mallozzi and Brad Wright, who took me to space with them.
First words
From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abernathy, Science Officer Q'eeng and Chief Engineer Paul West perched on a second, larger boulder, and thought, Well, this sucks.
"Someone who knows that no matter what, you don't deal upward on the chain of command," Dahl said. The crewman grinned.
"I don't think luck had much to do with it."
"That's it? 'The Box'?" Dahl said.

"If it makes you feel better to think it's an experimental quantum-based computer with advanced inductive artificial intelligence capacity, whose design origins comes to us from an advanced but extinct race of warrior-engineers, then you can think about it that way," Collins said.

"Is that actually what it is?" Dahl asked.

"Sure," Collins said . . .
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Book description
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 even more thrilled to be assigned to the ship's xenobiology laboratory, with the chance to serve on "Away Missions" alongside the starship's famous senior officers.

Life couldn't be better... until Andrew begins to realize that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship's captain, its chief science officers, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) sadly, at least one low-ranked crew member is invariably killed.

Unsurprisingly, the savvier members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs. 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.

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Enjoying his assignment with the xenobiology lab on board the prestigious Intrepid, ensign Andrew Dahl worries about casualties suffered by low-ranking officers during away missions before making a shocking discovery about the starship's actual purpose.… (more)

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