Redshirts, the expendables?

This is a book review, and it’s very fresh!



Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

by John Scalzi

Kindle Edition

Print Length: 316 pages

Publisher: Gollancz (November 15, 2012)

Read from July 25 to August 04, 2013

Rating: 3 / 5 stars

I was very curious to read something by John Scalzi. I’ve heard that his books were awesome and had that piece of ironic humor we usually find in the work of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett (and that we all LOVE).

So, I’m a John Scalzi newbie. I started reading “Redshirts” without any real high expectations; I just knew what I read in the book description on my Kindle. And by that I mean: I knew it was a science fiction novel probably inspired by Star Trek. And that it involved the so called Star Trek’s “redshirts”. I didn’t want to spoil my expectation reading other reviews about the book.

Now, some fast clarification. I must say that I am not a huge fan of Star Trek. I enjoy the universe; I have seen the classic movies and some of the old series. Oh, and the new movie too. In addition, I confess: for me Star Wars >> Star Trek. Yeah, now judge me.

Okay, so back to the book. It was a very delightful and fast read. Scalzi really knows how to write interesting characters and get us hooked in their story. At first, I was not sure the book was supposed to be a parody of science fiction series. And then I realized it had some clichés and narrative patterns like: overly dramatic dialogues in action scenes, absurd situations and, of course, some inconsistent physical laws.

It is very difficult to talk about the plot of the book without giving away spoilers. However, I will do my best. In short, the protagonist, Dahl, is recruited to work in the Xenobiology lab inside the ship called Intrepid. Dahl notice that weird and curious things happen with the crew of the ship, and that everyone is afraid of the so-called “away missions”.  The death rates of people involved in the away missions are abnormally high, and that triggers Dahl to search for information and statistics. The reference of the “Redshirts” of Star Trek is actually explained in the book, as we can read in the next quote:

“You know, in the original Star Trek, they always had Kirk and Bones and Spock and then some poor dude in a red shirt who got vaporized before the first commercial. The moral of the story was not to wear a red shirt. Or go on away missions when you’re the only one whose name isn’t on the opening credits.”

I will not say more about the story itself because I’ll probably spoil the narrative. But, I can say that the plot is VERY creative and that I was totally surprised when the major “mystery” of the story was revealed. Then, when you think the book is over, there are there Codas telling more of the story in different points of view, from different characters and using different voices (first person, second person, third person). Very interesting (and fun)!!

Overall, the book is very amusing! There were various moments I caught myself laughing aloud with some dialogues! And the very first explanation of the mysteries and the plot twist are fantastic!

But at the end of the book I wanted to know more about the story. The explanation given for the “mysterious” occurrences with the crew of the Intrepid was not complete, for me. I felt there were many things hanging in the air. I thought the final Codas were going to tie up all the loose ends and I was a little frustrated in not getting a full explanation.

So, I guess that’s why I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars. I was excited with the roll of the story, and in the end, I got a little disappointed. But that must be me, who wants explanations for everything!! I guess I was not in a very generous mood when I rated the book…

That does not mean I won’t ever again read John Scalzi. I definitely will!!

Oh, and his blog is a must see/read:

2 thoughts on “Redshirts, the expendables?

  1. ” And then I realized it had some clichés and narrative patterns like: overly dramatic dialogues in action scenes, absurd situations and, of course, some inconsistent physical laws.” — exactly, it’s a fun meta parody…. his other works are rather more of the space opera tilt…

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