Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
©2012 John Scalzi (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
It's not without its flaws but overall it was certainly worth a credit.
Laugh out loud funny at several points and it prompted me to put several of his other books on my TBR list.
If you know what a Redshirt is, then you'll probably enjoy this book.
If you're a fan of Wil Wheaton, then you'll probably enjoy this book.
If you know that you are likely to be distracted to the point of RageQuit by the overuse of a word, then I wouldn't recommend this. The only nitpicky negative critique I have about this book is that is a dialogue heavy book and the word "said" is used to the point of annoyance.
Regardless of that, it is a fun book and I enjoyed it.
Say something about yourself!
Before he wrote novels himself Scalzi was one of the best reviewers of science fiction in all of fandom (on his "Whatever" blog, still enormously popular), and in this book he takes the task of commenting on science fiction to new heights of humor and recursive, post-post-modern meta. The novel itself looks like a simple commentary on an oft-noted trope in the Star Trek series where nameless characters in the opening scene's away mission inevitably wind up dead in some dramatic fashion, but in fact it is a commentary on science fiction writing (for television in particular) and science fiction watching, a commentary that itself becomes the target of commentary in the codas, sort of, if you think about it the right way, maybe. In short, this is navel gazing at its most amusing, and in the end you have to stop thinking about it because either this book is just plain silly and not worth taking seriously, or the the actual world is just plain silly and not worth taking seriously. You decide.
Audible Audio books has made a big difference to me..Poor eyesight curtailed my ability to read like I did when I was younger..Thanks Audibl
Listening to the first hour of so of "Redshirts" I was sure it was just another funny story, full of sly humor and sassy one liners that make me laugh the way "Fuzzy Nation" and "Agent to the Aliens" did. When I heard about the book on Scalzis blog and read the beginning paragraphs I was sure thats where it would go-and I'm fine with that. I love his fun novels. Everyone needs a laugh at one time or another. Except for the head banging "He Said", "She said" dialogue that Scalzi writes (which seems to drive we audiobook listeners bonkers), the start of Wil Wheatons reading of Scalzi's new novel led me to believe I'd laugh the evening away.
Then it got a bit serious. Funny, still, but serious with a strange twist that had me totally amazed at the concept. I had to rewind a chapter here and there because I was sure I'd missed something. I wasn't getting it all. As the novel got deeper into the left hand turn the plot had made, it didn't lose it's fun jauntiness but it did gather even more unexpected sober, tough thinking adding plenty of "I never thought about that before" to the plot .
Character development is ...well..odd because Scalzi has developed his main protagonists along a couple of different lines. Pathways I had never considered in many years as an SF reader and viewer (and listener even). It's good character development...we know the protagonists- we have known them for years, even decades of Star Trek and they never seem to change..but these characters are sharper, more developed and very clever when they analyze their situation aboard the Universal Union Capital Ship "Intrepid", flag ship of the galaxy. They have a captain who is completely J.T. Kirkian in attitude and language, a ships engineer, doctor...in fact all the standard characters we have gotten used to seeing-including new ensigns wearing red shirts. The ones who die on away missions.
I don't write spoilers so all this sounds vague but I want to encourage listeners to stick with the book through the irritating dialogue then listen carefully to the next few hours.
As for the Codas,I think they add to the book. I don't know how else Scalzi would have added the information..it wouldn't have fit into the body of the novel. And though it isn't really vital information it is lore that adds to the novel and incases our knowledge of the characters. Some reviewers on the Amazon site discounted the codas entirely. I think they are part of the book and it's an interesting way to insert this data into the book.
This is a book for SF lovers, Star Wars/Star Trek fans, ComicCon goers and generally those of us who grew up with Heinlein and Roddenberry, with Ray Bradbury (who passed away today at age 91) and Rod Serling, with Neil Gaiman and Isaac Asimov.
Scalzi fits in with all these guys, especially the early Robert Heinlein YA books, though theres nothing YA about "Redshirts".
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
What a creative and clever way to look at characters! I don't know if this started off with Scalzi saying, "Hmmm, I wonder if I can write in various points of view, and look behind the scenes of how characters tick?", or as just a random idea. Regardless - it worked! The main story was funny, poignant, and creative. The separate coda were well-linked to the main story in a very heart-felt manner. I really liked this book a lot! I am fastly becoming a huge Scalzi fan-boy! “Old Man’s War”, “Fuzzy Nation”, and not “Redshirts” – all good stuff! Oh, but, I guess amidst all this mush of Scalzi-love, I probably should point out that he does have a tendency to use the screenplay style ("he said", "she said") a bit too much! And, particularly in an audiobook, this becomes VERY obvious…and not just a little irritating! Let's just call this his "room to grow" as an author! (Maybe that's how he gets his word-count up for meeting publisher requirements???) Still, other than that one affectation, I really like the way he thinks and writes! His dialog is crisp and focused, and his characters are ALWAYS unique and enjoyable. I will definitely read/listen to more of his works!
And, as an audiobook, Wil Wheaton did an excellent job as Narrator - which makes sense that he'd be able to inflect emotion into these characters because, he himself (as Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek TNG") must have felt like his character might just as casually become just such a "Redshirt" in the early days of his TV series appearances. Wil Wheaton did a really good job of putting dynamic range into the various characters - with more vocal intonations than I'm use to from him (as an audiobook Narrator). He really got into these characters!
So, from all perspectives, this was an excellent listen!
There were a few reasons I was intrigued enough to purchase this audiobook. First, I was eager to read my first John Scalzi book and see what he could do. Second, I'm a fan of Wil Wheaton as a narrator. Third, I'm a huge Star Trek fan. So, the idea of a novel based around one of the funnier/sad aspects of ST:TOS, I was excited to read this book. My intrigue quickly turned to disappointment especially once the core story's big reveal took place and the course of the 2nd half of the novel came into focus. But to Scalzi's credit, I cared enough about his characters by that point that I wanted to find out what happened to them, so I read on. After finishing the book I had to endure the three codas. Interesting as they were, Scalzi had more than used up my patience by that point with the storyline and his writing. I was surprised to find the codas were written better than the main novel itself! I look forward to reading more Scalzi novels to determine whether this is one of his lesser works or if he really is this below-average a writer. Regardless, he should fire his editor who for some unknown reason allowed a novel to be published with a nearly endless stream of "he said" and "she said" on every page. You can even hear Wheaton begin to sigh at points after reciting "he said" nearly a dozen times over the course of 30 seconds. Wheaton continues to impress me with his narration skills, bringing life to a group of characters and making the story enjoyable enough for me to stick around. Fans of ST:TOS should enjoy the references as well as the take on the meaningless deaths of so many characters, but I for one think Scalzi could have approached the same idea in a different way with more success. Regardless, the characters are worth the time, if for no other reason than to hear futuristic space explorers/warriors cursing like modern-day truckers.
I'm a technician that does a lot of driving for his job. I use the "windshield" time to listen to audiobooks.
The first 80% of the book is quite entertaining and funny. My only complaint, the constant, use of the word "said". No one remarks, commented, replies, asks, etc. There must be 10 or 15 ways to say "he said", it would have been nice to use any of them in addition to the he said/she said combination. After awhile your brain gets numb to it. The last part (20%) of the book is what I would call a 3 part epilogue, and without giving anything away, is some of the most human writing I've read in a while, and by itself, almost worth the price of admission. I've new found respect for John Scalzi. Wil Wheaton does a very good job reading. I'd be surprised if anyone buys this audiobook (or the real book) and feels that they didn't get their money's worth.
I cannot fully express how much fun this book is.
I love the fact that Wil Wheaton reads this, and that he sounds like he is impersonating Captin Kirk in his rendition-This makes it even more fun.
It is outlandish and requires a complete suspension of disbelief. And, yes, I enjoyed Star Trek and its spin-offs (with the exception of Deep Space Nine) and there are lots of tongue-in-cheek references to the original series. I found myself smiling regularly as I listened and laughing out loud frequently. I highly recommend this book if you enjoyed Star Trek. Redshirts is a book I will bring out if I am feeling blue or nostalgic and need a dose of laughter.
I am relatively new to Scalzi, but I love his dry humor and ramapant sarcasm. He is a man after my own heart!
Highly recommended by a Trekkie (Ok, I never actually attended a convention so I might only be an honorary Trekkie~)
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
???Is it just me???or is everyone on this ship monumentally f-ed up about away teams???? asks one of the Redshirts early on in John Scalzi???s ???Redshirts.??? It sets-up pretty much everything you???d hope for and expect from a new Scalzi book. It???s funny, geeky, exciting, and it gets emotional and heartfelt in the most surprising places. But what???s really unique about this one is how Meta it gets. Scalzi plays with his narrative like a phaser set to disintegrate and aims it at all the tropes, poor logic, and shoddy science that badly made genre TV, film, and fiction have conjured.
There???s a lot of characters, and as a result, some of them feel a little more cookie-cutter than I???d prefer. In particular, the protagonist doesn???t stand out as much as some of the others he???s written. The constant dialogue tags, the characters voices, etc. (However, the way this story???s setup, it can certainly be argued that that is the point.)
And even if that's not a persuasive argument, Scalzi has a lot of fun playing with the theme of characters being ???Under the Influence of the Narrative??? or creating scenarios where they advise each other to "STAY OFF THE BRIDGE! AVOID THE NARRATIVE!??? I have little doubt that much of it will become shorthand for all sorts of creative types in the future. Through it all ??? Scalzi throws down a challenge to not only live long and prosper, but to stop wasting time - to take advantage of your life and really live, and to do something worthwhile.
Wil Wheaton once again does a very strong job with the narration ??? and really, who else would you pick to narrate this book but the once and future Wesley Crusher. It???s great to hear him reading another Scalzi book.
For Star Trek and genre fans, for creative types, for anyone who has ever watched a SF TV or film and wanted to throw something at the screen because it all suddenly stopped making sense - this is really worth checking out.
Proud to be a geek
I love Scalzi's take on the cliched disposable 'Red Shirt' ensign phenomenon. I don't know a single person who watches Star Trek and hasn't said that they'd NEVER volunteer for an away mission if they weren't one of the big stars. So Scalzi makes this the central story to his plot, and also manages to poke fun at other related topics such as Trek philosophy, time travel 'rules', actors, Comic Cons, 'scifi science' and alien silliness (Ice Sharks? Really!?!) And, while Redshirts never takes itself too seriously, it still manages to present thought provoking dilemmas for it's intrepid heroes.
I think I'll leave out my favorite moment, so as not to give away the plot too early. My second favorite moment was the time travel sequence.
Yes, I have listened to several Wheaton-narrated performances by Cline, Scalzi and Wheaton, and this is another solid listen. Wil Wheaton is absolutely the most appropriate reader for this book, given the subject matter. He did a great job. The only thing that I found distracting was the use of, "he said," "she said," "Dahl said," etc, after almost every spoken line. While not Wheaton's fault, it was terribly distracting and even a bit irritating after time. I hope Mr. Scalzi invests in a thesaurus for his next book. The word "said" ends in a hard stop that is quite noticeable when repeated several times in a short time-frame. It really kills the flow of the dialog.
Absolutely. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of scifi, especially Star Trek geeks like myself. I think that it was very cleverly done and will be sure to make any Trek fan roll with laughter.
Tell us about yourself!
It starts out decently and the concept is quite clever and funny, but the dialogue is doing my head in. The book has these pockets of time where the main characters stand around discussing events in an effort for us and them to understand them. Fair enough really, but the way it is presented is driving me spare.
Blabla – X said
Blala – Y said
Blalabla – Z said
I just can’t take it. Especially not in audio format.
"Great Book But Annoying Over Use of The Word "said"
Like a previous reviewer stated this author really needs to learn another word for "said"; Yes, almost every line contains "...said" or "said...", it really does get annoying and you can almost hear the annoyance in the voice of the narrator.
The storyline is pretty good and I did enjoy it; a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, parody of Star Trek which mocks the fact that in almost every Star Trek episode you knew who was going to die as soon as the "away party" beamed down; those poor guys in red.
"Metafandom meets Galaxy Quest"
I love John Scalzi. Just have to get that out there. All of his books are phenomenal, though I confess I do love his humorous standalones a tiny bit more than the Old Man's War series. I can't say enough good things about his writing.
So I guess it's no surprise that I loved Redshirts - it is certainly one of the funnier concepts he's come up with. What if a Star Trek-like TV show was not only real somewhere, but controlled by the pen of the show's writers? What if all those poor redshirts, the guys destined to die to make the audience realize the problem in any given episode was SERIOUS, were real people, who really died every time bad writing dictated?
But don't be fooled by the absurdist premise - this is an incredibly well conceived novel, with a definite punch to the stomach in emotional weight, and a brilliant resolution.
Highly recommended. And the narration by Wil Wheaton - of Star Trek Next Generation fame, no less - is spot on.
"Meta- but in a good way"
I've probably listened to 30 audiobooks in the last 2 and a half years. Almost all of them have been very good. I'd say this was in the top half of those.
I loved the paradox, that the characters were supposedly vulnerable because they were not the main characters of the show, but of course they're the main characters of the book so in fact a slightly different set of rules apply. As much as the idea is (as the characters know) derivative of Galaxy Quest, Last Action Hero etc, Scalzi does a great job of making it feel fresh without it getting stuck up its own arse.
The last scene, which I won't say more about, because it would spoil it.
Both actually, but it was surprisingly touching towards the end, considering how tongue in cheek the concept seems.
Really recommended. I'm not a big Trekkie or into anything particularly similar, but I think it's enough to have a passing familiarity with the tropes of the genre, which virtually everyone surely does.
"A quick witted parody of a distopian Star Trek"
Don't wear Red
The story quickly dismantles a Star Trek-like distopian universe into a funny, if slightly silly, fantasy. It asks the age old questions, "what do the redshirts think about their survival chances and what can they do to improve them?"
"Entertaining story with well matched naration"
The tone suited me and I enjoyed the meta-story
A great story that drags a little with the extra codas - they become a little too meta - but an entertaining story that suits Wheaton's drawl.
"What's not to like?"
Haven't read the dead-tree version but I've read an awful lot of Scalzi and I end up feeling ever-so-slightly disappointed sometimes at the end of his books. Still not managed to finish Fuzzy Nation and I really want to...
The Ghost in the Machine... or was he the narrator? I'm not sure as I got all twisted up in the narrative.
I guess the hero was the best. Though they were all pretty entertaining.
Like trying to eat Spaghetti with your ears!
Well worth a listen!
"One annoying flaw in an excellent piece of prose."
I liked the principle most, and the inner monologues. The fact that nobody knew why they were doing what they did.
The only book other than John Scalzi's other books that this reminds me of is John Ringo's Last Centurion. Both books have soldier protagonists, both are commentary on how f-ed up the world they are living in is, and the tone and humor are similar. So are the narrators' voices.
I liked everything about the way he portrayed the characters, with the exception of Duvahl (not sure of spelling) Some narrators are able to portray female voices well, but Wheaton's female voice was indistinguishable, which is part of the flaw this book has.
I actually started crying somewhere near the end. It might have been when Dahl got skewered. Or it might have been during the epilogue when Finn lectures Nick. Actually Nick's epilogue is a pretty good part in itself.
The big flaw in this audiobook is a combination of writer and narrator. Scalzi overuses the word 'said' which _in print_ probably doesn't matter too much. He also named two of his main characters Dahl and Duvahl.
When you get lines like:
"Are you sure?" Dahl said.
"I'm sure." Duvahl said
Near the start and you can't tell which one is the female character because the narrator isn't that capable of female voices and the names are too similar to connect with the identifying information you were given...
After the first hour I'd gotten over the "said,said,said," thing, but that section near the beginning is really annoying.Still a good listen though.
"Enjoyable story, masterfull narration"
While the story is more than ok, Wil Wheaton does a superb job telling it. I enjoyed this very much, allthough the book itself falls short sometimes. The premise for this book is funny and clever, but it could do with some editing. It is far to long and drawn out at some points, but unlike many other reviewers, the "he said, she said" etc style of writning didnt bother me. To me, it feels like it is written as a script, and fits the book very well.
Bottom line; If Wil Wheaton had'nt narrated this, I might not have enjoyed it so much. As it is, I recommend this to all science fiction fans, and trekkies in particular.
"This was not so bad after all"
I downloaded this in a hurry - looking for some reasonable SF and tried this. I noticed someone mentioned the excess 'he said - she said' and I soon found the dialogue was really not suitable for listening. When you read dialogue heavy fiction - the he said - etc. bit is kind of filtered out, but on audiobook, however decent the reader is, and Wheaton is pretty good, the said bit gets really tedious. I nearly aborted this listen after 1/2 hour, but I was on a long journey, so kept going. In the end it was a pleasant light listen, with some clever twists. I will probably not bother with another Scalzi, but the experience was not bad. I tend to like the more cerebral SF, but am running out of authors! Help!
"An interesting read"
The idea of the book is at once, both funny and intriguing. I thought it would be a comedy, but John takes an absurd premise and then writes a very engaging story around it. A very clever and a likable book. The two things that work against it. 1 - Others have mentioned it, and I will too, but only because it does grate. The use of the word "said" so often. Enough said :). 2 - I was a little disappointed with the narration. There is very little in the way of distinguishing different characters and the reading was a little flat in a lot of places. Neither of these were enough to make me stop listening though, and I got right through to the end without a problem. Clearly John is happy with him as Wil narrates a number of his books. Overall it is a solid and enjoyable listen.
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