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Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas | [John Scalzi]

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

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  •  
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 03-10-13
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 03-10-13 Member Since 2009

    caffeinated

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Everything I like in one book."

    Time travel. Parallel dimensions. Space ships. Battles with explosions on decks six through 12. Love. Humor. Characters I care about when they die. Characters I care about when they come back to life. And a Wil Wheaton Narration. More. I must have more!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Long Beach, CA, United States 02-04-13
    Amazon Customer Long Beach, CA, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2015

    Just about anywhere but HERE.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good tale, but the Narration could use work."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Redshirts to be better than the print version?

    I prefer Audiobooks when I can get them, because most narrators do different voices.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There were good characters throughout the book, and because of the writing all were equally interesting to me.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Wil Wheaton’s performances?

    I do not know, I expected an actor to read in different voices. All of Will's characters sounded alike, he was just reading the novel, not acting it. I read a review (false as to turns out) that said Will's Captain sounded like a Shatner styled character. I was more than disappointed to find this was not the case. I would have to listen to a sample of another Wheaton performance before purchasing another.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Volunteer for Nothing on the Intrepid!


    Any additional comments?

    I was every disappointed in the performance of Will Wheaton, I expected the characters to sound different, he was just reading the book. This made it more difficult to follow because the Author has characters who's names sound alike. When the narrator stated that one person with the D last name, and the other person has a D last name. The way its read it make you wonder just who is speaking in a given section of the story.

    Sorry Will, I like most of the other things you do, this was not one of them.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Geekette Irving, TX USA 06-06-12
    Geekette Irving, TX USA 06-06-12 Member Since 2013

    Proud to be a nerd

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A philosophy-fillled, meta-packed, sci-fi fun fest"
    What did you like best about Redshirts? What did you like least?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Redshirts?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Wil Wheaton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    Was Redshirts worth the listening time?

    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.


    40 of 50 people found this review helpful
  •  
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 06-07-12
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 06-07-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Galaxy Quest meets Scalzi"

    Scalzi doesn't disappoint and Wheaton is brilliant. When the crew of a starship realizes it's at the mercy of science fiction writers from the past you get a great audible listen!

    51 of 64 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Keswick, ON, Canada 06-21-12
    Russell Keswick, ON, Canada 06-21-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I'm Glad This Universe has a Scalzi"

    I've always really liked Scalzi books and this latest one is a fine addition to an impressive body of work. The main story is a lot of fun and occasionally provokes some deep thinking. It ended too quickly and I wondered what the heck could John do with three Codas - I wanted more of the main characters. But, leaving the reader wanting more isn't a bad thing for any author. The Codas actually turned out quite well and interweaved into the story with some new characters in a different time and place. I actually got choked up at the last spoken sentence of the final coda.

    Wil Wheaton gives a magnificent performance and I hope he and Scalzi will team up again in the future.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Whittier, CA 06-06-12
    Dave Whittier, CA 06-06-12 Member Since 2011

    I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Death by Away Team - Pure Scalzi!"

    ???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.

    46 of 59 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Basehor, KS, United States 11-28-12
    Ron Basehor, KS, United States 11-28-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "For the Trekkie inside you."

    Ever wonder what life would be like on the Star ship Enterprise as a Red shirt? Well this book gives you that spin on the classic (Star Trek TV show)/ generic sci-fi TV show. Well here’s your chance to see what life is like from a Red Shirts perspective. Follow along as they try and make sense of this crazy world where things don’t always make sense. I especially enjoyed the reading by Wil Wheaton who played the role of Wesley Crusher in Star Trek Next Generation.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan M. Philadelphia 06-08-12
    Ethan M. Philadelphia 06-08-12 Member Since 2005

    On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Clever fun, though not as clever as it wants to be"

    Scalzi's work has been heading in this direction for a long time - fun, funny science fiction adventures that are full of lots of references to classic science fiction and aimed squarely at fans who are in on the joke. This is the next logical step, one that asks, in a number of ways, "what if (mediocre) science fiction was real?" The movie Galaxy Quest is the right cultural touchpoint here.

    Redshirts delivers on the premise with some real humor, and some fun plots, but Scalzi is not quite enough of a writer to make the self-references mean much beyond providing clever plot twists and good jokes. The character development is light, and, though the reason for this is justified in the book, it doesn't actually make up for the fact that the characters are all fairly boring. Similarly, many of the most interesting aspects of the self-referential plot are left unexplored, as the book veers more to adventure in the last part of the novel.

    Wil Wheaton, while obviously a brilliant pick in terms of adding to the meta-science fiction fun, is actually less successful as a reader here than he is on other novels. Part of that is that there is a lot of dialogue, and Wheaton doesn't do voices, so there is a lot of "he said" "she said" among similarly-named characters that makes things confusing. Not horrible, but not optimal.

    Though it may sound like I didn't like the book, I actually found it a lot of fun, more, in fact, than I would have expected from the sum if its parts (thus, four stars for the overall rating). But, among Scalzi's work, this book is much more Agent to the Stars than Old Man's War - fun, amusing, but ultimately very light.

    29 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 12-18-13
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 12-18-13 Member Since 2008

    Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Fun Little Meta Story"

    There is a lot to like about Redshirts and Scalzi creates an interesting meta-universe that gives a backstory to the disposable extras the filled many an episode of Star Trek. The book pokes fun at a storied television franchise and goes from silly to absurd as the junior crew members do what they can to avoid going on away missions. One inside joke after another keeps things entertaining and the tale goes from simple to complex as it unfolds.

    Be warned that there is also a lot to dislike about Redshirts. The characters aren’t very deep and the story is more about the running joke than it is about the characters. You will also quickly grow tired of hearing “he said/she said” in the dialogue.

    As a self-proclaimed geek and former actor on a Star Trek series, Wil Wheaton is a natural fit as the narrator here. I have enjoyed other books read by Wil but I didn’t feel like this was one of his better readings. He doesn’t do a lot of voices so it can be hard at the beginning to keep track of all of the various characters; however, Wil is still adequate and it is the story itself that will either keep you entertained or drive you away. If you are a SciFi fan capable of having fun at the expense of a beloved television series then this book is for you.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 12-05-13
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 12-05-13 Member Since 2014

    Letting the rest of the world go by

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Made us Laugh out Loud"

    This book accomplishes what very few other sci-fi books can do. It makes you laugh out loud. It's not the most original story, but it will make you laugh out loud because of the dialogue and situations, and you will be interested in the story's main arc.

    A perfect book for a car trip with a fellow listener. The sci-fi is fun and the ending is worth the read, and the book will make you laugh out loud!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Max
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    7/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "poor concept, but well performed"
    What disappointed you about Redshirts?

    the concept was very frustrating, and it did not work for me


    What could John Scalzi have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    see above


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Wil Wheaton?

    yes


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointed, as the plot was basically a single concept


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Liz
    Norwich, United Kingdom
    4/28/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A delight for a snarky sci fi fan"

    The concept of this novel is just as delightful as you're probably imagining it. It works well as a satirical love-in for whatever space opera holds a place in your heart (Stargate Atlantis, for me, but it hardly limited itself to a single show, as most of the concepts and conceits were universal to the genre). The lead characters are fun, but its the secondary characters who really make this awesome - they're the dumber substitutes for Shatner and co, and it MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. With some intimations of self-love including body doubles, which is pretty much everything the internet has ever laughed about in clones and Mirror Universe episodes.

    The execution was occasionally slightly confused. Aside from the main plot line, the three codas (taking up a surprising chunk of the whole novel) are probably not going to suit everyone. One or two moments resonated with me, but there were long philosophies of the writing process (not Scalzi's process), and writers writing about writing is not everyone's favourite thing. There is a surprising happily ever after I didn't expect, so the codas aren't worth avoiding, just a little odd.

    The narrator has a mellow, sarcastic way of speaking, which was for the most part awesome and added to the experience. The combination of speed and snark meant that dialogue stretches of, 'he said, she said, Dahl said' were occasionally confusing, and hard to follow who was saying what (though this usually didn't matter much). This gripe wasn't hugely annoying, however, and probably was neat in print form.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Velvet
    northamptonshire, UK
    3/31/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great narration, writer skill let it down overall"
    What would have made Redshirts better?

    Having a better editor, or the author listening to his editor. Even pre-warned by other reviews, the dialogue is monotonous with the 'he said' repeated ad nauseum. There are also other instances where the poor writing skill of the author lets down what is otherwise an excellent story.


    What was most disappointing about John Scalzi’s story?

    Writing skill of the author. Phrases/grammar just gratingly bad (and that's leaving aside the constant 'he said' after every line of speech by a character) in places. This distracts and detracts from the storyline.


    Have you listened to any of Wil Wheaton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No I've not listened to any other performances so can't compare, but given the material he had to work with, he made a very good job out of what must have been a frustrating performance to give.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Amusement, annoyance, frustration, disappointment.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is *probably* worth persisting with despite the writing flaws. The story is good, it is a tongue in cheek caper through all things star trek, and I enjoyed it for that, but it's definitely not one for those easily annoyed by repetitive words.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • L. Savage
    Essex, United Kingdom
    2/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Two good books tacked together"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    In hindsight I would say yes, it was a good idea, with some very interesting angles, and therefore I can think back on it and draw some good memories of it.
    However, the writing of it was painful lazy and a massive surprise after the excellence of Old Mans War.


    Would you recommend Redshirts to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes, but with warnings. I think people who enjoy the Star Trek Universe will get a kick out of it, and it is a good concept for Sci-fi in general, but it is terribly written.


    What does Wil Wheaton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Sorry Wil, but he didn't bring anything extra to improve the book - but he did a good job. Wesley Crusher telling a story is about all I can say.


    Could you see Redshirts being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

    I could see this being a 1 hour special on Sci-fi if they drop the last third of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    Seriously disappointing, yet still I'm pleased I read it - a contradiction but one I can live with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sheamus
    UK
    12/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A quick witted parody of a distopian Star Trek"
    If you could sum up Redshirts in three words, what would they be?

    Don't wear Red


    What did you like best about this story?

    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?"


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andy
    Manchester, United Kingdom
    11/6/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining story with well matched naration"
    What made the experience of listening to Redshirts the most enjoyable?

    The tone suited me and I enjoyed the meta-story


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • annoyingmouse
    Ely, United Kingdom
    7/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What's not to like?"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Redshirts to be better than the print version?

    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...


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Ghost in the Machine... or was he the narrator? I'm not sure as I got all twisted up in the narrative.


    Which character – as performed by Wil Wheaton – was your favourite?

    I guess the hero was the best. Though they were all pretty entertaining.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Like trying to eat Spaghetti with your ears!


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth a listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • henrik
    Roskilde, Denmark
    5/20/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Banchory, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neil Cooper
    Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "A good short story"

    I am a big fan of John Scalzi, having loved Old Man’s War, and this short story didn’t disappoint me in the slightest. I found it funny and witty, with his mick taking of various sci-fi series and the concepts raised interesting and good.

    It only gets four stars due to what has already been said. When I initially read the other reviews I didn’t think that the “he said/ she said” would be as bad as described. If anything, it’s worse!!! It doesn’t ruin what is a very good ‘read’ but is still extremely annoying and causes this book to miss out on the five stars rating for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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