I recently discovered John Scalzi's stories and find his writing entertaining and a fun listen. Redshirts is a concept story based loosely on the fabled Star Trek abuse of crew who were identified by their red shirts and who always seemed to die in some horrible way. Scalzi's story moves quickly and takes a few twists and turns that are quite unexpected.
I enjoyed the novel, but the true brilliance of the book comes from the three "coda" stories at the end. These are some of the best short stories around, which contrast poignant emotion with the more light-hearted novel. The final coda was an absolutely terrific love story, brilliantly read by Wil Wheaton.
Wil Wheaton's reading is spot on. I'm wary of books read by celebrity talent, but Wheaton shows a range of voice and emotion that brings out the characters, the wry dialog, and the emotions of the book. He's more than up for the task and I look forward to hearing more stories he's narrated.
The concept and the smart alecky dialogue
Loved Wheaton's performance however the number of times 'he said, she said' was vocalized really took away from the snappy dialogue.
When I picked up Redshirts I was expecting a parody/deconstruction of the much-beloved, much-maligned Star Trek formula. Being familiar with Scalzi's work on the web, I also expected it to be engaging, clever, and funny.
I got all that, of course.
What I didn't expect was for Redshirts to be poignant, emotionally resonant, and deeply satisfying. Scalzi presents not only the silly sci-fi and narrative tropes of Trek that we all love to poke fun at-- chief among them the OSHA's nightmare of a work environment for the eponymous red-shirts-- but also the well-rounded people and interpersonal themes that have drawn so many to Trek's setting and characters.
The narration by Wil Wheaton is masterfully done to the point that it would have been criminal to give the job to anyone else. Wheaton's voice hits just the right tones and attitudes. There's a particular scene in which a character is drunk, and I had to rewind and re-listen because Wheaton's drunk-voice was so funny.
You don't even have to be a fan of Trek to enjoy this book-- anyone even passing familiar with the sci-fi genre could roll through this story and come out the other side feeling not only entertained, but uplifted. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a book this much. Thank you, Mr. Scalzi.
Eclectic is a verb
I listened to this book while working out, and would occasionally bust out laughing at some of the better jokes in there, causing people to glace sideways at me, but I didn't care. This is a geeky story written by a geek, for geeks, and it's very well done. Wheaton does passable narration, and the story itself has not only some excellent ideas in it, but it even critiques itself in the appendix. There were some rough spots.. the writing is short and clipped sometimes, and the repetitive "he said, he said, she said" cadence comes across distractingly often. But if you have ever pondered the misery of being a Red Shirt, this is the book for you.
Pretty high up. It was engaging and made me want to take the long way home from work to listen to more. That is a testament to an engaging story.
Not sure ... have not listened to many in this genre. It is unique.
He was the narrator ... he covered them all very well.
If I had infinite time available ... sure, but there are a lot of other things I would rather do if I had that massive luxury of free time.
Overall very good and nice twist on the obvious overdramatic "narrative" of the sci-fi shows. One request Mr Scalzi ... invest in a thesaurus. Please realize that XXXX . XXXX .X XXXX can easily be expressed as "name withheld" and "he or she said" could be phased 1,532 different ways. It is tedious and Will must have wanted to hang himself after the reading. If you want to do an audiobook, be sensitive to the different delivery mediums of your work.
Writing style is not good for audio. I slept to this on a plane.
former nuclear scientist
I listen to most books at 1.5 speed, so I was able to listen to this book in two days (with a long commute each day). It went quickly, as it should, being a spoof of Star Trek. The dialogue is the best part: funny, fast, and not overly full of exposition. Dialogue is where Wil Wheaton does his best work. I only gave him three stars, however, for the rest of the narration. I know that the book is filled with purposely absurd situations, but I found his tone of voice when reading too flippant. Not to mention a few areas where I thought his inflection changed the meaning of the sentence. For example, I think the line was likely:
"This is ridiculous," he breathed. Then died.
Wheaton read the line like this:
"This is ridiculous." He breathed, then died.
The book is mainly dialogue, so we are spared too much deconvolution of Wheaton's narration. While it doesn't rise to the form of great comedy, it is consistent comedy which leads to a constant stream of chuckles at the absurd situation, and fun exploration of unanswerable questions.
I still don't quite understand the point of the last chapter, but I found the codas touching in a way that made me realize that the book was good enough to make me care about its characters. Even the minor ones. Even the redshirts.
Couldn;t get past the first chapter. If I had to listen to "he said then she said" one more time I was going to pull my hair out. Who writes like that?
Wil is great, listening to Will is what allowed me to finish this story. Normally I really enjoy John Scalzi's books., but this one it as if he started doing drugs and then threw up a story and we are to be impress with the comic value or something. – I missed the boat on this one.
In this book it starts out great, but then it takes a weird turn - a BAD turn. I won't tell you what he does, but I remember reading a book by Robert A. Heinlein, where the characters take the same turn. I did not like it in the Heinlein book and again not here. Even the ending, it's supposed to be funny/cute but it just comes off bad. Really just a terrible ending – not funny.
I like to immerse myself in the universe created by the author. It's almost as if John Scalzi forgets that. You can’t do that with this book – impossible. Read if your board, as I said Wil Wheaton makes this palatable - or wait for something better from Scalzi is IMHO
I stopped 2/3 of the way through because it simply made sense. The writing was a bit hacked together (take a shot every time you hear the word "said"), but the story took a pleasant turn from what you'd expect.
I was told this book was funny, but don't get it if you're expecting a laugh. Treat it like a thought experiment.