John Scalzi had me at his dedication to Wil Wheaton.
To Wil Wheaton, whom I heart with all the hearty heartness a heart can heart.
Thus began an entire novel of complete silliness and whimsy. Right up my alley.
As the title suggests, this book follows the plight of the Redshirts. For those of you who haven’t watched any Star Trek at all (shame on you, for one thing), the Redshirts are the throw away characters who accompany the main characters on away missions and always die. You can always tell who it’s going to be. You’ll have the captain, the science officer, maybe the chief engineer and then there’s Ensign Bob Smith and you know right away that Ensign Smith won’t be making it back to the ship.
Actually, Eddie Murphy explains it much better in Boomerang:
You get the idea. And just so we’re clear, this book does not take place in the Star Trek universe.
So the premise of this book is that the demise of Redshirts aboard the Intrepid has gotten out of hand to the point where they start noticing that something is wrong. And then they start comparing notes and realise that assignment on any away mission is a death sentence. A handful of them set out to figure out why and to see what they can do to stop it.
Frankly, I can’t tell you more than that without spoiling it.
I will give you this quote, however, which might be slightly spoilerfic but it’s from the pov of one of the Redshirts so we kind of expect it anyway.
Ensign Davis thought, Screw this, I want to live, and swerved to avoid the landworms. But then he tripped and one of the landworms ate his face and he died anyway.
I literally laughed out loud. Reading it still makes me giggle a bit.
I gave this five out of five stars on Goodreads because of the sheer enjoyment I got from it. It was fast-paced with constant action (always a plus for me) and it didn’t take itself very seriously at all. The dialogue was a bit clunky and some of the characters weren’t well rounded, but I attributed that to the subject matter. These guys are the extras with minimal back-stories and the writing style reflected that.
The one thing that I didn’t really like about this book was the end. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you.) After the main story is a set of three codas which wrap up the stories of some of the characters from the main story. I felt that this book could have stood on its own without the codas. I thought that the ending was really quirky and cool, but was then dragged out by this additional information which I could have survived without.
Overall, I loved it. It satisfied my need for action and had the added bonus of complete and utter silliness. A total win in my book.