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Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John…
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Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas (edition 2013)

by John Scalzi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,8101833,861 (3.81)1 / 203
Member:mamzel
Title:Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Tor Books (2013), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:2013, Literary Lit (books in book)
Rating:****
Tags:spec fic, screen play, AD, 13 in 13

Work details

Redshirts by John Scalzi

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English (179)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (182)
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First published on Booking in Heels.

Essentially, it's a sort-of-but-not-really parody of Star Trek and those other futuristic sci-fi shows, where dramatic events continuously unfold but every episode is always self-contained. There are four people, main characters, who always survive, possibly injured, but they recover ridiculously quickly and then there are the redshirts. The expendable crew members, a few of whom die every episode just to point out to you how dangerous the mission is. Redshirts is their story.

Let me just say first of all that you don't need to have seen Star Trek to love this book. You only need to know what I've just said - that the main characters always survive and and someone expendable always dies. Oh, and there's usually some dubious science kicking about as well. It's self-explanatory and I assure you it it's hardly a difficult concept anyway.

As befits the genre it's parodying, it does sometimes take a second or two to work out the 'science.' I mean, the writers of Star Trek didn't exactly put a lot of effort into making their sci-fi logical or rational (and it was fine, it worked regardless) so a similar style has been recreated here. Either that or I'm giving John Scalzi too much credit and his knowledge of physics is just rubbish!

I admit that it lost me a little bit when I reached the epilogues. Well, they're called 'codas,' but they're essentially epilogues. Which I hate. I have incredibly mixed feelings about these chapters. First, I accepted their existence as they do sort of add something new to the story, although I wasn't sure if they quite fit the theme. Then I basically turned into Hanna Hulk because one of them is written in the second person and this infuriates me. Then the last one is quite deep, quite philosophical and I really enjoyed it and started wondering if maybe I just hated them on principle? Confusing.

Redshirts is so much more than a parody. It's funny, clever, occasionally philosophical and really made me care about characters I expected to be two-dimensional and flat. I loved this book an awful lot more than I expected to, and I can't recommend it highly enough, regardless of whether you've ever seen a Star Trek episode in your life. ( )
  generalkala | May 21, 2015 |
Scalzi is true to form in his playful novel exploring the infamous redshirt phenomenon in Star Trek: The Original Series. Several new ensigns on the fleet’s flagship quickly realize that something is very wrong-- everyone they meet is terrified to be near the bridge crew and even more fearful of away missions. At certain times things begin happening in regular nonsensical patterns (e.g. in the middle of a fight the ship loses maneuverability, everyone is thrown to the side, one console explodes in a shower of sparks, the captain says something dramatic… and suddenly everyone stops acting “out of character” for the next several minutes). Warned to stay away from “the narrative” and away missions if they want to keep alive, the newest group of redshirts, quickly becoming friends, won’t stop until they understand what is really going on and how they can stop the unbelievable death toll and strange ways of dying on their ship-- a toll only seen on one other ship, the starship Enterprise in the 20th Century television show Star Trek.
The novel is a very fast read, quick, playful, and laugh out loud funny. I highly recommend it for fans of Star Trek, though it will appeal to a wider audience as well. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
Those connected to the Star Trek universe would find the body of this novel a good romp, where the new recruits of an Enterprise-like starship (the Redshirts) suddenly become aware of the pattern wherein they get to play the casualties of any hostile encounter. What they end up discovering is a pretty crazy truth behind their existence.

The novel ends with three coda, told from the personal perspective of three of the characters involved in the narrative, as they must cope with the existential meaning of the truth they discover. These coda have a completely different feeling, more serious and more emotional, and I'm not sure such seriousness is warranted given the craziness of the premise (a craziness the characters themselves are even enough self-aware to admit). ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
I can't believe no one thought to use this plot line before. Very well done, and funny too. ( )
  leewit | Mar 30, 2015 |
This was a lot of fun to read. I plowed through it in a few days, which was a refreshing change of pace. I'd recommend it if you're looking for something to poke fun at the idea that writing (especially bad writing) can be fatal.

I also appreciate how, at the end, Scalzi took the time to make me actually care about the silly, fun thing I'd just read. ( )
  JenLamoureux | Feb 22, 2015 |
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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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Dedication
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.
Quotations
"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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