Kat at FanLit
"This is the part where you run and scream a lot."
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Intrepid, a spaceship that has the reputation of killing off most of its non-essential crew. The captain and senior officers and one or two especially good-looking guys always come back from planetary “away” missions alive (though often mangled up a bit), but always, always, at least one, and often many more, of the crew is killed. When Dahl and a few other new recruits begin investigating, they discover that the statistics just don’t work out right. There is definitely something weird going on. With the help of a computer hacker who hides in the bowels of the ship, they set out to get some answers and make a discovery that completely changes how they view the world.
I’d love to tell you more about the clever plot of Redshirts, but I don’t want to give it away. I hope it’s enough to say that I was delighted from the first page and I laughed a lot. Redshirts is a spoof of Star Trek; the title refers to the ever-changing expendable red-shirted crewmen who go down to the planets with Kirk, Spock, Bones, et al., but usually don’t return. Most Trekkies are sure to find it hilarious. Though Scalzi mocks Star Trek plot clichés, there’s a sincere sense of affection and nostalgia for Star Trek that I found charming. Also charming is the reminder that all those expendables have real lives, too.
Redshirts is self-aware metafiction divided into three parts: a novel and three codas. While the novel is a comedy, the codas are meant to make us think about life and death and our place in the universe. The conceit starts to wear a little thin by the second coda, but rebounds for a gut-wrenching twist at the end. If you don’t like metafiction, Redshirts may not be for you, though I’d encourage you to try it anyway, especially if you’re a Star Trek fan.
I listened to Audible Frontiers’ audio production of Redshirts which was read by Wil Wheaton. I don’t know if Wil Wheaton’s narrations are always so good, because I’ve only heard him narrating novels written by John Scalzi, but let me just say that in my experience, Scalzi + Wheaton = a brilliant performance. Wil Wheaton totally “gets” John Scalzi’s characters (and it’s not just because he used to play an ensign on Star Trek). If you’re an audio reader, you definitely want to read Redshirts in that format. If you’re not an audio reader, Redshirts could convert you.
I have no idea how the mental images I construct when experiencing a story would be like if I read the book, but the audioversion is fantastic. Will Wheaton starts off doing more or less ok the first chapter or two, but from there on, he really settles in his voice as narrator. I'm pretty sure that I prefer the audio version.
The writing is great. The only problem I had was the constant use of "he said", "she said" that kind of got on my nerves a little. Other than that, it starts out as a fun sci-fi romp, but becomes something much more. It's a colorful dive into narrative-exploration, making fun of tropes while being an ode to them at the same time. A lot of it is wonderfully subtly done, without an attempt to hammer the meta or the observations into the focus of the reader/listener.
That probably sounds boring, but I assure you, it isn't. From killer robots with harpoons to writer's block, this book is fracking awesome.
I'd compare it to movies. Think Galaxy Quest, Back To The Future and Pi.
Also, the experience isn't complete without the codas, in the excact order that they are.
The book itself gets a very fitting voice because of the background Will has, in fact so much that i can't imagine anyone more suitable. That being said, it's more the middle and end part of the book where his voice clicks into place with everything else.
The codas specifically was read with such great and subtle emotion that I was surprised. No offense to Will Wheaton, but I would never have imagined that one of his performances, in particular a voice only, -almost made me cry.
Fear The Narrative.
Fans of star trek or any weekly sci-fi show: buy it. It'll make you happy you did.
Will Wheaton's narration really reflected the character's emotions and gave you a feel for each situation the author had the characters in. Truthfully, I didn't know he was that good and was pleasantly surprised.
Someone finally wrote a good story about the plight of the red shirts.
Most of the main characters were done well but I like the interaction between the characters in the science lab!
I think 'Redshirts' says it all.
Well worth the listen. Wil should branch out in the audiobook narrations. He does a good job in Metatropolis also.
These poor characters. They're afraid of "Away Missions" because someone ALWAYS dies. Hilarious.
I enjoyed this far more than I had anticipated. Scalzi writes great dialogue and clearly understands the sci-fi television industry. The story stands as a really fun parody of the 'redshirt' concept in sci-fi, but also is a honest story about people trying to find out what their lives really mean in the greater universe. Wil Wheaton is a wonderful narrator for Scalzi's material.
Anyone who has been a science fiction (space opera and Star Trek specificlly, but any science fiction fan will do) fan will appriciate this book. The author uses well worn science fiction plots and devices in fresh ways. He is able to similtaneously pay omage and poke fun at the genere. While making you laugh out loud, he also manages to pose some thought provoking questions. The book is read by Will Wheaton, which is very fitting indeed, and he does a great job with the material. The author does overuse the common so-and-so said way to much in his dialogue. It probably would not be noticed in the written version, but it is a bit distracting in the audio version. Other than that small critique I give it an unabashed recommendation!
Towards the bottom unfortunately. This book is the worst combination of Douglas Adams and a Next Gen parody. This was my second Scalzi book and if possible was even worse than the other one I read. Scalzi is as insufferably full of himself, as usual, and the book is drowning in meta ideas that he thinks are more clever than they actually are. Wil Wheaton does a heroic job to save the tired genre parody retread. I guess Wil Wheaton was the obvious choice to read this book being a former TNG cast member but I wish he would vet his projects better.
Absolutely! Wil Wheaton did a great job. I think his performance was better than the book deserved. While I think this is a superior performance to the other book Wil Wheaton narrated I'm more likely to go back and listen to Ready Player One.
I loved this story. Funny, quirky and written in real world language. I am glad that I listened to Fuzzy Nation first as advised by another reviewer. It was a good one to get used to style of John Scalzi.
Wil Wheaton's narration suited the style of the book, the characters and the themes so well. It sounded like he was really enjoying the roles as much as I was enjoying listening to him. I am now searching on other books Wil has narrated.
I am hanging out for my next John Scalzi book. I have enjoyed Red Shirts and Fuzzy nation immensely.
Scalzi's sense of humour is always enjoyable. The premise of the story is really interesting since for the first time we get to see the lives of all those redshirts on the ship.
Biggest problem for me is that it started loosing steam 3/4 of the way in. The ending feels a bit like a left turn without reason. The codas also seemed slow and gave the book a different tone which wasn't even close to how the book started.
This story makes me want to go back at rewatch all the past Star Trek episodes. The wit is hilarious and the plot totally crazy. The whole premise of the book will keep you in stitches as the story develops. Also, it highlights just how bad televised entertainment truely is.
Doll was my favorite although I enjoyed Duvall's character just as much. Both their wit and comebacks to the different situations that they encounter.
When Fitz dies and his last words are "this is ridiculous." Gotta love it.
To go back to where no man has gone before..