Scalzi doesn't disappoint and Wheaton is brilliant. When the crew of a starship realizes it's at the mercy of science fiction writers from the past you get a great audible listen!
Ever wonder what life would be like on the Star ship Enterprise as a Red shirt? Well this book gives you that spin on the classic (Star Trek TV show)/ generic sci-fi TV show. Well here’s your chance to see what life is like from a Red Shirts perspective. Follow along as they try and make sense of this crazy world where things don’t always make sense. I especially enjoyed the reading by Wil Wheaton who played the role of Wesley Crusher in Star Trek Next Generation.
Audible listener since the late 1990s. I mostly listen to science fiction, fantasy, history, and science.
Scalzi's work has been heading in this direction for a long time - fun, funny science fiction adventures that are full of lots of references to classic science fiction and aimed squarely at fans who are in on the joke. This is the next logical step, one that asks, in a number of ways, "what if (mediocre) science fiction was real?" The movie Galaxy Quest is the right cultural touchpoint here.
Redshirts delivers on the premise with some real humor, and some fun plots, but Scalzi is not quite enough of a writer to make the self-references mean much beyond providing clever plot twists and good jokes. The character development is light, and, though the reason for this is justified in the book, it doesn't actually make up for the fact that the characters are all fairly boring. Similarly, many of the most interesting aspects of the self-referential plot are left unexplored, as the book veers more to adventure in the last part of the novel.
Wil Wheaton, while obviously a brilliant pick in terms of adding to the meta-science fiction fun, is actually less successful as a reader here than he is on other novels. Part of that is that there is a lot of dialogue, and Wheaton doesn't do voices, so there is a lot of "he said" "she said" among similarly-named characters that makes things confusing. Not horrible, but not optimal.
Though it may sound like I didn't like the book, I actually found it a lot of fun, more, in fact, than I would have expected from the sum if its parts (thus, four stars for the overall rating). But, among Scalzi's work, this book is much more Agent to the Stars than Old Man's War - fun, amusing, but ultimately very light.
I liked Redshirts. Fun. Entertaining. Quite funny at times. And yes, rather clever. Though clever more in a "Look at what I'm doing, isn't this cute, and you can feel clever too by getting all of the in-jokes (which are pitched low and soft)" way, rather than, say, a mind-blowing, genre-elevating, Big Idea, Hugo award-winning way.
Which is probably why I read this book with my eyebrows constantly going up and down. Because as the metaphysical pretension became outright self-indulgence, I just kept thinking... "Yeah, this is fun, but... a Hugo? Really?"
The main characters are redshirts on the starship Intrepid, the flagship of the fleet, captained by square-jawed Captain Abernathy, who is always seen with his excruciatingly logical Science Officer, and a good-looking but dim astrogator named Lieutenant Kerensky who has a disturbing history of surviving horrible wounds, diseases, maimings, and other catastrophes. Meanwhile, much of the activity aboard the Intrepid revolves around avoiding the attention of the staff officers, and especially, avoiding Away Missions.
Ensign Andrew Dahl is a newbie aboard the ship, and once he figures out what's going on, he also figures out that he is most likely to be the next sap sacrificed.
Okay. So, Redshirts is really, really meta. It's not even a little bit subtle, either. Once Dahl and his friends realize what's going on, they start researching early 20th century Earth television and refer to Star Trek by name.
Scalzi is not the first author to write about fictional characters discovering that they are fictional characters. And he knows it, and he makes sure you know he knows it, continuing his see-how-clever-I-am metaness by having other characters, whose minds are blown by the meta, researching and mentioning by name everything from Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo to Jasper Fforde.
Dahl eventually deduces that not only are they characters on a TV show, but the TV show isn't even real — it's actually a fictional creation in a novel!
Whoa, Scalzi, you are sooooo clever!
Joking aside, Redshirts was amusing. The characters are Scalzi's usual likable jerks tossing zingers at each other while eventually delivering heartfelt moral epiphanies. But most of the humor comes from "spot the genre reference," and much of the humor is diluted by the author making sure that dimmer readers don't miss the reference by having every dialog continue for a beat or two longer than necessary.
There is a lot of self-referential humor, about science fiction, about Hollywood, and about writing.
On an additional plus side, Wil Wheaton's narration was pretty awesome; Wheaton really "gets" Scalzi's voice and the voice of his characters.
I don't know if I could finish reading a novel ever again. I am so addicted to listening to books I have little interest in reading!
Last night I had dinner with two true intellectuals, (a rarity I assure you), and when I told them I was reading Redshirts their faces lit up with joy. This made me feel very accomplished and just a bit guilty because I was sure it would be seen as juvenile.
Redshirts is a sharp, witty mind bending ride that I'm sure to read again and again. It's bizarre science fiction, something that rarely attracts me. For sure, had it not been for Audible offering Redshirts as a daily special there is no way I would have purchased this gem. As it stands now, (and on the recommendation of my friends), I have purchased Scalzi's Old Man's War.
I really don't know how to review this book without spoiling the story. Suffice to say its inconceivable to me that anyone could imagine where it takes them.
The characters and dialogue is first rate. It's lol funny and read by a professional with impeccable timing.
Not my usual cup of tea, but another 5 star effort from Audible!
Devourer of all books fantasy
This is the second Scalzi book that I have read. The first was Fuzzy Nation which I enjoyed immensely. This book was also very enjoyable; it was funny and clever. Although I kind of wish it has ended before we got to the Codas. Still it was an entertaining read.
I read this on audiobook and really really enjoyed it. It's read by Will Wheaton, who does an excellent job reading audiobooks.
In the future the Intrepid is the flagship of the Universal Union and it is an honor to be assigned to it. So thinks Ensign Andrew Dahl until he starts to notice strange things...like the strange way the officers talk at times, like the high body count on away missions, and like how he does and says things he normally wouldn’t on away missions.... When Dahl and his friends start looking into things more deeply they find that things on the Intrepid are very very wrong.
This is a hard book to review without spoilers, but I will try my best. Let’s just say it’s a very tongue in cheek type of funny story. It’s full of mystery, gorey sci-fi action scenes, strange coincidences, and a bit of time travel.
The characters are all quirky and interesting. Although this isn’t a character driven story, they are there mainly to unravel the mystery of Intrepid.
The whole craziness around time travel and predestined fates gets a bit confusing towards the end of the book, but Scalzi approaches it all with a sense of humor that makes it more believable.
My only complaint is that I kind of wished the book would have stopped before it got to the Codas, I think they detracted from the story. The three Codas basically tell the impact of the Intrepid’s story on three characters that get involved from our time and world. They were kind of interesting, but didn’t add to the story a whole lot.
In the end exactly how and why things happened how they did on the Intrepid was a bit ambiguous and confusing, but it was still pretty hilarious.
Overall this was an entertaining read. If you enjoy parodies and over-the-top humorous science fiction you will enjoy this book. It was pretty hilarious and entertaining to read. The story didn’t always make complete sense and was a bit ambiguous at times, but Scalzi kind of makes fun of this so it works for this book. Recommended if you are a fan of humorous sci-fi or if you are a fan of Scalzi’s previous books.
Ah, redshirts. It seems to be a sign of a true SF geek to immediately get the reference, vs those would stare at you blankly if you referenced it. But what if you suddenly realized that you weren't the main character in the reality that you inhabit. Worse, you come to the suspicion that your part in the show may be to become just interesting enough to make the audiences feel some emotional loss when you died. And everyone around you is dying at a rate unheard of for any other ship in the fleet.
Well, this is what happened to the main characters of this story. And after living through a dreaded away mission (except for their dramatically lost friend ironically) they finally figure out what is going on and even when their show is being written (though of course via divergent universes there is no reference to their show). After kidnapping a main character (one of the best ways to ensure that they don't die off-screen) they are off to the past to try and stop the writers from killing them and their compatriots.
Overall a fun book, with entertaining characters and a sly wink to a bunch of in-jokes. It may not be a book I ever go back to re-read but it was an interesting story.
'Where no redshirt has gone before...' The little guys sudden begin to conspire when they realize that away missions are usually deadly, but only for them! So they formulate a plan - and execute it!
This book is hilarious - and is in its own way more sci-fi than some of the sci-fi I've read. Having Wil Wheaton read it is a good thing and a bad thing. Mr. Wheaton has some problem differentiating different characters with accents and such.
On the other hand - Sci-Fi fans are well aware of Mr. Wheaton - and his 'geek cred' elevates this book to some extent.
One thing that may be a result of Mr. Wheaton's lack of differentiation between characters, the script frequently breaks the dialog with things like 'X character said' or 'Y character said' sometimes many times within a minute, which does distract one from the story. Excepting that - this is a great book - and kept me interested from first to last.
John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton do it again. Redshirts is good fun in a goofy sci-fi story that I am surprised has not been made into a TV mini-series. Maybe someone will make a web series out of it one day.
There is a lot of "inside baseball" and breaking of the fourth-wall here.