In Book Reviews on September 4, 2013 at 6:00 am

RedshirtsGollancz 2012

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.

  1. I’ve been reading Scalzi’s blog for some time now and really want to try his novels, but sadly he is yet another author I can’t seem to find in South Africa. And at the current exchange rate buying them through Amazon is simply not worth it. Your review (and the fact that it won the Hugo this weekend) is making me reconsider. My budget, that is.

    • Oh no! It’s terrible that you can’t find him in SA. 😦 I hope you can get your hands on a copy sometime. It was such a fun book.

      Thanks for mentioning his blog. I’ll have to check it out. I really like his style so it should make for an interesting read.

      • I suspect his blog is nothing like his fiction. He’s very outspoken and not afraid to ruffle feathers. He also has a bunch of fans who’d go after anyone who disagrees with him on certain issues, so I steer clear of the comment section for the most part, but it’s a fun blog to read.

      • Ah, excellent advice, thanks. Gotta love the internet!

  2. I read this book – our family has been Star Trek fans since the 60’s (some of us, anyway). So when I saw this book I had to read it, and I agree with all part of your review. I found the best part of it to be the earlier sections, but the whole thing was good, and a very entertaining read. I liked it so much I bought a copy and sent it to my son to read!

    • That’s so awesome when you can share books with family members! My family and I don’t share the same taste in books, so we don’t get to do that.

      I also love Star Trek. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a Trekkie, but I’ve got alotta love for it. The stories are so optimistic yet they touch on topics that are totally relevant to our very un-spacelike lives. It’s very endearing.

  3. Yay! I’m glad to hear it was a worthwhile read! I’m in the mood for some sci-fi silliness… 🙂

  4. […] I love John Scalzi. I really do. This is only the second book of his that I’ve read, but I’m now officially a fan girl. (Here’s a link to my post on Redshirts.) […]

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