This is actually two books: A mediocre and often groan-worthy SF fanfic that is not helped by a flat audiobook performance, and a series of interesting and thought-provoking novellas exploring some of the themes and questions arising due to the premise of that fanfic.
The "main" body of the novel, the Star Trek gag meta-commentary, basically explores the same absurdities of Trek that Galaxy Quest did so well, using similar genre-aware asides and other fourth-wall breaking techniques. The problem is that while GQ was a tightly scripted feature-length film with hilarious acting, the main story of Redshirts just drags on and on. It's clear that Scalzi is trying to evoke absurdist humor-SF in the vein of Douglas Adams, but the wordcrafting and dialogue really fails to deliver. Obviously, getting Wil Wheaton as narrator is practically a necessity for a Trek spoof, but even that piece of meta-fanservice doesn't save the humor.
As narrator, Wil Wheaton had a pleasant enough voice, but very flat delivery which pretty much killed whatever humor was in the main body of the novel. He doesn't "do voices," so every character sounds nearly identical. The writing in the "main" section happens to mesh particularly poorly with the audiobook format. In particular, Scalzi tends to write extended dialogues as huge sequences of:
"This," said John.
"That," said Jane.
"Really?" said John.
"Yes," said Jane.
While the repetitive quotations are bad enough in print, having every single "said John" read out like some kind of verbal tic was akin to water torture, to the point where I had to stop listening several times rather than throw my player across the room.
It's possible that the intent of the whole "main" section is that the whole novel is also meant to be a bad spoof of Mary Sue-esque Trek fanfic, but if so, the "joke" fell completely flat.
The only thing that saves this from being a one-star review was the three "codas". These are pretty much novellas in their own right, each of which explores some of the ramifications of the "main" body's premise in a much more thoughtful way while backing off of the attempted absurdist humor. The tone and theme makes these sections a much better match for Wheaton's reading, and the writing quality is a quantum leap in improved quality.
Love listening to books and walking. Connected to Audible at least 6 hours a day.
Wither your playing sports or watching sci fi, beware of the redshirts. I great listen.
I'm so glad I got this. As soon as I started listening, I couldn't stop. It is absolutely hilarious and awesome. The writer does use the word "said" a lot -- A LOT -- but the content of the story is so good it overcomes that weakness.
Wil Wheaton is a good reader, but he needs to work on voicing characters. He does a good job with the content and inflection, and perfectly hits the humor -- he just needs some voices. Wil, if you read this -- please listen to Jonathan Davis read Snow Crash. You could be that good, you just need multiple voices for the different characters.
Yeah, I would have the narrator quit reading the "he said" or "she said" parts. It got very annoying.
Yes, as it is an enjoyable sci-fi romp
Probably not, unless it was a book I was truly interested in.
No. I know its blasphemous in this day and age, but not everything should have sequels.
I listen to a fair number of audiobook. This was #43 in 2013. It is also the 2nd Scalzi book I have listened to. I LOVED every part of this book. The style and "narrative" made me laugh out loud numerous times. It was fast paced, easy to follow, engaging, extremely funny, and very clever. I don't usually go for funny or satire in my reading/listening choices, however this is one of THE best books I have read/listened to all year. To really address the question as to what was most enjoyable, well the writing, the humor, the meta absurdist existentialism of it, Wil Wheaton's performance. I guess the only thing I did not like was that there was not more to enjoy.
Really I don't know if I had a favorite character. I think everyone struck me in their own purpose (as the author points out at the end of the "narrative". There weren't any bad characters... I don't really get the people who trash the characters. I think they are very believable and endearing in their attempt to escape "the narrative".
First off that Wil Wheaton does a book like this is just REALLY enjoyable. Someone from Star Trek (not to mention his other movies, Penny Arcade, and occasional Big Bang appearance) reading this just adds an entirely extra layer of cleverness to it. Wil is not as great with different character voices as other narrators (James Marsters or Christian Rummel for example), but really I would rather have had Wheaton read this over anyone else. His inflections, excitement, exacerbation all are superb. His performance really added a lot to the writing (not to discount the writing itself, it stands on its own), it just adds to it, like a great wine with a steak, or frosting on cake, or crazed killer robots on a space station!
I REALLY enjoyed the book. It was fun on many levels. First it was light, quick, fast paced, and enjoyable. Secondly it was very creative with pointing out flaws in bad science fiction and showing what happens between those moments. I like sci fi, but a lot of times I can't help but wonder why would you do that... this pokes fun at that while offering a glimpse of the consequences of "bad sci fi writing". As I mentioned above, I do A LOT of audiobooks a year and this is one of the best and most enjoyable I've experienced all year. Thank you John and thank you Wil!
I enjoy reading many books genres. But I love listening to fantasy books.
I was delighted with this book. I would have been delighted had it been just a spoof on the sci-fi genre. But it was so much deeper. I loved the multiple views and the "meta" character. And it had a deep message to boot. Will Wheaton was a great narrator too.
Tell us about yourself!
I would definitely recommend this book to a fellow Trekkie. It is a very clever, funny and at moments heartwarming story.
Jenkins. He figures everything out.
I have listened to one other book narrated by Wil Wheaton. I thought this was better, despite some awkward writing.
Watch some old Star Trek!
The story reads like a bunch of nerds flaming late night at a Con, with fixed sentence structure. If you don't like Star Trek cliche's, the entire story is worthless.
The narrator communicates the sarcasm, but fails to provide a different "voice" for each character.
It was worth the $2.95 sale price. I wouldn't pay full price or use an audible credit.
Never - it would be cruel and unusual punishment.
None. The whole book was a giant Zzzzzzzz.
I downloaded this book because of it's ratings...swear to god it was the most painful read I've encountered all year.
ironic hilarious re-readable
"eveloutionarilly questionable rotating teeth"
His enthusiasm and sarcasm played through the characters perfectly!
Laugh - more than once!
Could not love this book more. I started it over as soon as I finished and it's even funnier the second time around. Completely brilliant!