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Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

by John Scalzi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,6084122,335 (3.77)1 / 412
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.
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» See also 412 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 407 (next | show all)
As one of the new transfers to the Universal Union flagship Intrepid, Andy Dahl has a lot to learn. Including how to avoid being sent on an away mission at all costs, because the low-ranking members of the crew have a high mortality rate on away missions. There's a pattern surrounding five particular high-ranking officers, though, who seem to be able to defy the laws of physics and biology. But while other crew members simply do their best to stay alive, Andy is determined to find the cause for this phenomenon and put a stop to it. And he can't do it alone.

For a character writer/reader reading a book with not much in the way of character development, I really enjoyed this book. The humor that comes from seeing it all as characters in a scripted TV show being real people, especially for a fan of the Star Trek franchise, is what drives this ship. And it's great! This book takes meta to a whole new level and had me laughing several times, especially during the first third.

It probably helps a lot, too, that I don't mind the shallowness of the scenes. When I read my first Scalzi novel, Lock In, I noted that his writing style suited me--no frivolity, not much description. This is the case in this book as well, which I think turned a lot of people off. I didn't mind.

My biggest complaint is two-fold: Too many characters had too similar of names (Dahl & Duvall, Hanson & Hester), which, combined with the lack of character development meant that I usually didn't fully retain which character was talking at any given time. So basically, they were mostly interchangeable. Add to that terribly repetitive dialog tags, and conversations were difficult to get into.

The three codas were a little strange to me. I didn't understand the need for the 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person--the 2nd person one especially was awkward from that POV, and would probably have been better as 3rd person. I did appreciate getting some of this information, but only the 3rd coda really meant much to me.

This book seems to be a hit-or-miss kind of thing, even for fans of sci-fi/Trek shows. For me, it was a hit. I enjoyed it for what it was meant to be, and really liked the way it all turned out. I do recommend that any fans of formulaic sci-fi in the ilk of Star Trek give this book a try. ( )
  Kristi_D | Sep 22, 2023 |
this started out predictable. then it became mind blowingly absurd. by the end, it was sappy and poignant. it was funny all through out, and i loved every moment of it. a very pleasant discovery for me this year.

ps...you'd think wil wheaton not doing voices in his audiobook narrations is a turn off...but so far, i enjoy his performances (including in this book). ( )
  riida | Sep 13, 2023 |
3.8 rounded up. Clever and funny. Imaginative but didn't love the ending ( )
  lieblbiz | Aug 30, 2023 |
Well, that was fun. If that sounds like faint praise, it might be. I'd been anticipating this book ever since I heard Mr. Scalzi read the prolog during his tour for [b:Fuzzy Nation|9647532|Fuzzy Nation|John Scalzi|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1316132345s/9647532.jpg|18280046]. Perhaps I pushed my expectations for it too high. Even so, it was fun.

In case you can't tell from the title, or haven't bothered to read the backcover blurb, this is a book about the phenomenon of the high mortality rate among low-ranking starship crew members during away missions. When Mr. Scalzi read the aforementioned prolog and asked the audience to guess at the title, the almost unanimous response was "Red Shirt" (if you still don't get it, watch an episode of Star Trek with the original crew).

This story is told from the viewpoint of the low ranked crew and the lengths they go to in order to avoid assignment to away missions or being stationed on decks that always seem to get opened into space during battle. What they discover about their situation and how they choose to deal with it came as a bit of surprise and a bit of a disaappointment. I'd hoped for a different direction. But decided to go along for the ride and mostly enjoyed it.

What works in this book is the fast pace and snarky, inside-joke humor. If you get a joke, you're grinning. If you don't, another is coming right up. What doesn't completely work (although I couldn't put my finger on it at first), is that same fast pace. It focuses on dialog and moving the plot along, at the expense of description and introspection. The characters are often difficult to distinguish (you have to remember their names) and scenes take place in featureless voids.

Even so, it was fun. I wish I could give it another half of a star. ( )
  zot79 | Aug 20, 2023 |
Much of what I have to say about Redshirts has been already said, and better, by other reviewers: the core of the novel is a fun, scifi-ish, meta-ish romp that is of decent quality, whereas the novel really comes into its own in the three codas, which are each beautiful and existential meditations.
I have only two complaints: Scalzi tags his conversations way too much ("she said") and it particularly bugs when listening to the audiobook. Wheaton, who is an exceptional narrator -- full of verve and hitting exactly the right cynical tone -- uses exactly the same cadence for every tag and it almost sounds rhythmic in this way that is very distracting. The second complaint is that the conceit of the books was well known a priori, and yet the majority of the book is spent leading the reader to it and describing it -- I would have rather spent more time with the characters -- and more fun, satirical romps through SciFiVerse. ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 407 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Scalziprimary authorall editionscalculated
Getty ImagesPhotographersecondary authorsome 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 Wil 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 . . .
“In other words, crew deaths are a feature, not a bug,” Cassaway said, dryly.
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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.

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