Redshirts by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If the ending didn’t leave me crying for some nebulous reason this would have had a lower score. But it brought out some weird emotion that many books can’t so it gets 4.
It’s review time.
I really enjoyed this book. There aren’t many books that can get meta effectively within it’s pages but Scalzi did it well. It is rare that I laugh in books, yet I found myself constantly laughing in this.
Let’s start with the fact that Redshirts is about the concept of Redshirts from Star Trek. In case you don’t know, Redshirts were the characters on the show who always died. You have to understand the easiest way to up the stakes for the main characters is to have someone die. Obviously you can’t kill main characters regularly, so the Redshirts serve the job.
What this novel does is focus on the Redshirts instead. When Ensign Andrew Dahl is assigned to the most hazardous ship in the fleet he quickly realizes that something is wrong. The journey that we take when Dahl tries to figure out what is going on is hilarious and entertaining.
Unfortunately because of the nature of the plot, I don’t feel like I can talk about it much without spoiling people, so I will refrain. I will say that the twists and progression of the plot made sense and were well pieced together. I really enjoyed this entire book.
I mentioned previously that this is a funny book. Humor is so hit or miss with me. I’ve found a number of books considered funny to be dull. I tend to gravitate to either off-beat, nerdy, or science-y humor. This book did that well for me. I was constantly laughing at the absurdity of characters and situations.
The biggest problem I had with this book were the Codas. There were three in first, second, and third person. I didn’t care about the story going on in the first person. The second person was more interesting, but I again didn’t care much for the character we followed. The third was actually the most upsetting and heart wrenching. I don’t know why it effected me as much as it did, but I ended up crying, so it did something right.
It’s definitely a book that made me think and I can’t help but wonder what happened beyond the end of Dahl’s story.
Good science fiction makes you think and this book did that. Not only did it entertain, but it made me think about dimensionality and the meta nature of things. It made me think about my role in my life and what else is out there. So I would definitely classify this as good science fiction.
2 thoughts on “Redshirts by John Scalzi”
A good review, I appreciate it not being too spoilery as it’s one on my to-read list at some point. I grew up watching Star Trek so I think I’d enjoy it and get the in-jokes, but I’ve seen a mixed bag of reviews about the book. As you enjoyed it, with a few reservations, I’ll consider that an extra rec for this novel.
I definitely did enjoy it quite a bit. I’ve never read a book that made me laugh so much.