I found Redshirts to be two books in one, divided roughly in the middle. The first part being about the cliché-packed adventures of the Intrepid and the horrible (yet many times hilarious) ways in which their redshirt crew is mauled constantly by increasingly ridiculous aliens and bad luck. This first segment, which follows Andy Dahl and his group of friends, is fun, engaging, and it really makes you feel nerve-wrecking tension for finding out whether or not Andy and pals will survive their next Away Mission. I found the sub-culture that forms around the Redshirts and their ingrained superstitions to help them survive for another day to be really compelling, a topic which I think can be successfully applied as well to the henchmen of a James Bond supervillain or similar groups of extras that are routinely killed on-screen just to raise the stakes for the audience. It is interesting to imagine what kind of superstitions and methods of survival these hoards of "bad guys" would develop over time. Perhaps an idea for a future novel Mr. Scalzi?
Also in this segment, a most special mention should be made for Wheaton's narration, and also most especially, his hilarious performance when he reads the drunk dialogue of a wasted Kerensky who sort of "oozes" all over a highly uncomfortable Andy Dahl on a bar's couch. ANY previous complains I had on Wil Wheaton's narration skills dissipated after that scene. Bravo!
However, all the fun, terror and nerve-wrecking action in this first half of the book quickly morphs into a philosophical meta-commentary of the storytelling industry and the difficult relationship between author and character once Dahl and Co. break the fourth wall and discover that the hazards they face on the Intrepid are anything but accidental. I felt that after this point, the tone of the book changes completely, and while the humor remains and the story stays equally engaging and thought-provoking (even tear-dropping I must say, at the end especially), I couldn't help but feel as if I had been unexpectedly betrayed and someone had swapped my book for someone else's. The new book I was reading was good, no doubt about that, but it left me wondering what had happened with the events and characters I had been following for whole first half. And even when we eventually returned to them, the Intrepid felt alien and fake by then after having spend a good section completely isolated from that narrative.
Still, I must admit Scalzi does a good job transitioning between these parts, and I should also admit that I found enough clues on the beginning of the book to be able to guess this is where the story was taking me.
However, I remember speculating constantly as I enjoyed the first part of the book on what was the ultimate cause for the unfair death toll on redshirts that Dahl and Co. were also trying to discover along me. I even imagined a long list of things that could be the cause, like some sort of conspiracy between the captain and the higher officers where they had agreed on having "fun" in their adventures on the expense of the crew, a sort of "Hostal" concept. Or perhaps, this was caused by a Larry-Niven-kind of genetic factor which had caused the captain and officers to be unusually lucky, allowing them to survive any adventures the rest of the crew couldn't. I even remember getting excited about this possibility. Imagine that! I thought. Perhaps you could even understand star trek or similar space adventures with the explanation that the cast of main characters was a statistical fluke, a group of humans that had the luck of being in the right place at the right time and had the universe on their side for a limited amount of time, like a chamber full of gas where every now and then, out of simple probability, every single particle in the chamber converges on a corner, only to disperse later.
But then again, my hopes to receive some ingenious (albeit highly speculative) explanation were not to be heard. And while the plot revelation I received was both good, satisfying and self-consistent, I couldn't help but feel as if it wasn't... how can I say it...? It wasn't sci-fi enough.
Perhaps I'm asking too much with that, perhaps I shouldn't impose on Scalzi, or any author, to stick to their chosen genre and follow its rules to the letter. But meh, I still felt slightly betrayed, and for that, and ONLY for that, I give it a 4 stars.
Because in everything else, all other details, characters, emotions and events displayed on the book, it's a top-winner :)
As a trekkie, I can appreciate the ironic humour in having Wil read this particular book. He does a brilliant job. His expressive voice and cadence is a real pleasure to listen to. I can envision the characters & conversations actually taking place.
What a wonderful twist on the pop culture scenarios that were taken for granted and expected. References to the old Star Trek situations are hilariously convoluted when perceived from the perspective of the "minute-men" actors. Follow along and discover how a few of these moment-by-moment actors figure out how to survive one more "away mission" and live beyond the 1/2 hour we watch them on TV.
If you're a Star Trek fan, you will enjoy this book
the intermix between reality and TV reality
he's understanding of sci-fi words used. He spoke them very fluidly.
the codas really moved me. I thought they helped give closer and meaning to those parts in the story line.
I was expecting a humorous book on the Red Shirts--the cannon fodder in the Star Trek universe. The premise of the book is intriguing. I was expecting non-stop jokes about crew in-fighting to avoid going on missions.
The story was cute--not a deep book.
I've listened to it three times. I think I need to listen one more time. It's that fun.
I loved the way the writer broke the 4th wall with the "Narrative".
The love letter from a man to the memory of his wife.
I first listened to this while driving cross country. I allowed me to pass Colorado through Kentucky and made it a most enjoyable trip.
Probably. It was definitely enjoyable to listen to.
I find the parts where they're trying to actually process the events the most interesting. The least interesting is the when everything gets bogged down in Andy being the Hero of Another Story and everyone trying to predict tropes based on a show they haven't seen. It tried too hard to appeal to the real world at the cost of the story.
Not strictly a scene, but the codas at the end are by far the best part of the novel. I would have absolutely adored every word of this book had as much thought and care that went into the codas gone into the rest of it. Hands down they offer the most experimentation which is what this book, theoretically, is all about.
I was pleased with this book. The first half is very funny. The second half is more dramatic than humorous. Even then, the drama isn't great.
I'd recommend the book. Found Will's narration was difficult to follow at times as he did not adjust his voice when a multiple character conversation was taking place.
This book ranks right in the middle. I liked the story, but it was not fantastic and it should have ended about an hour before it did. the end part was long, boring, and i felt it was only there to add length to the book. i did not feel it had that much to do with the main story.
My commute is long and the audiobooks are longer. Brevity is not my strong suit. @alyssahoman
I think I would recommend the book before the audiobook. The book is funny and incredibly self-aware. The format doesn't lend itself quite as well to an audiobook. It's written more like a script and I feel like I needed more visual cues to follow along and remember which character was which. The ending chapters were also a bit confusing in audiobook form.
I really loved the main character Dahl. He was a great protagonist and a great bridge for the reader (listener) to participate.
I don't want to give away any part of this book. The whole thing is enjoyable and pointing out a specific scene would take away from the mystery. Listening to the book without any knowledge of what it was about also made it a little more fun.
I listen to audiobooks in the car and this is one that I frequently ended up sitting in the garage, much longer than I intended) because I didn't want to turn it off.
This book is great for anyone who grew up watching scifi, specifically Star Trek. Wil Wheaton narrating added an extra layer of awesomeness. There are a ton of relatable themes but having a background knowledge of science fiction definitely doubles the enjoyment. While I loved Wil's performance, I think the material is better related in book format first.
Star Trek fans, rejoice! It's a trope-skewering post-modern analysis of Science Fiction that will draw more than a few sudden eruptions of laughter out of you! And it's read by that guy, you know, that one that was on that show! Yeah, him!
Almost any sci-fi fan would get a kick out of this story, or at least the first half of it. Anyone who has spent time writing will find themselves unexpectedly caught up in the experimental writing of the codas.
Redshirts is a gleefully self-aware adventure through the brief lives of some of Science Fiction's favorite expendables. More than once, you will sense the story headed full-speed-ahead towards a giant Hollywood cliche, and there will be nothing you can do about it. And you won't want to do anything about it. Because OF COURSE that is how good-bad B-list sci-fi works. The blatant gags and gimmicks of the story's first half are, expectedly, the best part of this book.
Wil Wheaton, reading a book about redshirts. What a perfect match, right? You can hear him get excited for the book's most ridiculous moments, reveling in the fact that he gets to be the one to bring you this experience.
However, Wheaton does fall prey to one of the book's most painful aspects: repetition. It's not his fault. A thesaurus would have probably been useful while writing this one, because listener beware, you are about to hear the phrases "he said" and "she said" thrown about far too often. During dialogue-heavy moments (and boy are there a lot of them), you can even hear Wheaton trying not to grow too frustrated as he has to read off the same thing over and over.
Wheaton's emotions are obvious in his voice, so points for that, but you won't find yourself looking back on this one and thinking about his individual character voices. They're all essentially the same, making those dialogue-heavy scenes a bit rough to follow if you're not perfectly focused.
You COULD do what I did, however, and picture an entire starship crewed by Wil Wheaton clones. You'll smirk at least once.
Screw this, we want to live!
The first half of this book contains the humor. The second half, the story. The codas, the heart. Casual listeners may tune out around the major plot shift that splits up the book, but anyone who has, had, or plans to seriously write in their lifetime absolutely needs to stay for the codas. They are experimental, they don't always work, but they will show you that no story is ever truly finished, and no character, no matter their shirt color, is ever unimportant.