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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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  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-21-13 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "He said. She said. He Said. She said. They said..."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No.!

    Though I have always found John Scalazi's humor and plot lines engaging his use of dialogue in this book so tedious it spoils the whole experience.

    The meat and bones of what the characters have to say is fine but the connective tissue of he said's can, at best, be said to occasionally rise to the level of tedious.

    The problem might not be so obvious on the printed page but as an audio book the the repetition of "He said"or "She said" as the link between almost every spoken phrase had me cringing in anticipation. If Pavlov had slapped the dog with a wet fish every time he rang the bell I imagine the effect would have been very much the same.


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

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    It's a pity, I really do like the way Scalazi thinks but I just couldn't enjoy this performance.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Atkinson Greensboro, NC, United States 09-10-13
    Charles Atkinson Greensboro, NC, United States 09-10-13 Member Since 2015

    How can the characters in this year's True Detective be worse? Ferrill is asexual, drunk, corrupt, a child abuser and worse!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Fun Ride Back to the Future"

    Last night I had dinner with two true intellectuals, (a rarity I assure you), and when I told them I was reading Redshirts their faces lit up with joy. This made me feel very accomplished and just a bit guilty because I was sure it would be seen as juvenile.

    Redshirts is a sharp, witty mind bending ride that I'm sure to read again and again. It's bizarre science fiction, something that rarely attracts me. For sure, had it not been for Audible offering Redshirts as a daily special there is no way I would have purchased this gem. As it stands now, (and on the recommendation of my friends), I have purchased Scalzi's Old Man's War.

    I really don't know how to review this book without spoiling the story. Suffice to say its inconceivable to me that anyone could imagine where it takes them.

    The characters and dialogue is first rate. It's lol funny and read by a professional with impeccable timing.

    Not my usual cup of tea, but another 5 star effort from Audible!

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karissa Eckert 07-29-13 Member Since 2012

    Devourer of all books fantasy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very funny parody novel"

    This is the second Scalzi book that I have read. The first was Fuzzy Nation which I enjoyed immensely. This book was also very enjoyable; it was funny and clever. Although I kind of wish it has ended before we got to the Codas. Still it was an entertaining read.

    I read this on audiobook and really really enjoyed it. It's read by Will Wheaton, who does an excellent job reading audiobooks.

    In the future the Intrepid is the flagship of the Universal Union and it is an honor to be assigned to it. So thinks Ensign Andrew Dahl until he starts to notice strange things...like the strange way the officers talk at times, like the high body count on away missions, and like how he does and says things he normally wouldn’t on away missions.... When Dahl and his friends start looking into things more deeply they find that things on the Intrepid are very very wrong.

    This is a hard book to review without spoilers, but I will try my best. Let’s just say it’s a very tongue in cheek type of funny story. It’s full of mystery, gorey sci-fi action scenes, strange coincidences, and a bit of time travel.

    The characters are all quirky and interesting. Although this isn’t a character driven story, they are there mainly to unravel the mystery of Intrepid.

    The whole craziness around time travel and predestined fates gets a bit confusing towards the end of the book, but Scalzi approaches it all with a sense of humor that makes it more believable.

    My only complaint is that I kind of wished the book would have stopped before it got to the Codas, I think they detracted from the story. The three Codas basically tell the impact of the Intrepid’s story on three characters that get involved from our time and world. They were kind of interesting, but didn’t add to the story a whole lot.

    In the end exactly how and why things happened how they did on the Intrepid was a bit ambiguous and confusing, but it was still pretty hilarious.

    Overall this was an entertaining read. If you enjoy parodies and over-the-top humorous science fiction you will enjoy this book. It was pretty hilarious and entertaining to read. The story didn’t always make complete sense and was a bit ambiguous at times, but Scalzi kind of makes fun of this so it works for this book. Recommended if you are a fan of humorous sci-fi or if you are a fan of Scalzi’s previous books.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 06-14-13
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 06-14-13 Member Since 2015

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The real Star Trek"

    I've watched all the t.v. shows and all the movies, but you got to believe this is the real Star Trek. This is from the view of those thousands of crew members that do the actual work, that take the non-sensible orders from the higher ups and make the ship work.

    John Scalzi is the funniest writer out there and with Wil Wheaton they are the best duo to listen to. The book starts out with a sort of grunts by the water cooler feel. The new guy treatment is spot on. So even those who are not sci-fi fans will like the first three hours. The story does take a weirder then I prefer turn and I wish JS could have came up with a better explanation. The story actually ends around five hours and then you get the not so funny Coda's. Coda one is interesting, but goes on too long. Coda one also gets a little nasty with the writers of the original Star Trek. As a Star Trek fan I enjoyed laughing at myself and the show during the story. J.S. seemed to use coda one to say, hey if you were to stupid to figure it out, I think the Star Trek writers were lazy or stupid. Scalzi did not do his homework or he would have known that Gene Roddenberry set out to make a non-violent show. During the pilot, cowboys were the big thing and the network wanted blood or they were not going to air the show. The results were Redshirts getting killed. Coda two gives a serious message, but no answers. Telling someone that can't figure out what to do in life, that they need to get there shit together, does not help. Coda three was sweet and warm.

    I gave this five stars and it was the best book I have read this year so far and Wheaton's performance makes listening to it better then reading it. I do believe it would have been even better without the coda's.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel O. Buchholz Arlington, VA USA 05-24-13
    Daniel O. Buchholz Arlington, VA USA 05-24-13 Member Since 2004

    Computer Geek

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    "What do you never want to be?"

    Ah, redshirts. It seems to be a sign of a true SF geek to immediately get the reference, vs those would stare at you blankly if you referenced it. But what if you suddenly realized that you weren't the main character in the reality that you inhabit. Worse, you come to the suspicion that your part in the show may be to become just interesting enough to make the audiences feel some emotional loss when you died. And everyone around you is dying at a rate unheard of for any other ship in the fleet.

    Well, this is what happened to the main characters of this story. And after living through a dreaded away mission (except for their dramatically lost friend ironically) they finally figure out what is going on and even when their show is being written (though of course via divergent universes there is no reference to their show). After kidnapping a main character (one of the best ways to ensure that they don't die off-screen) they are off to the past to try and stop the writers from killing them and their compatriots.

    Overall a fun book, with entertaining characters and a sly wink to a bunch of in-jokes. It may not be a book I ever go back to re-read but it was an interesting story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    majkia Niceville, FL USA 05-07-13
    majkia Niceville, FL USA 05-07-13 Member Since 2009

    majkia

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    "A paean to Star Trek"

    'Where no redshirt has gone before...' The little guys sudden begin to conspire when they realize that away missions are usually deadly, but only for them! So they formulate a plan - and execute it!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joey BREWER, ME, United States 05-03-13
    Joey BREWER, ME, United States 05-03-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hilarious - great fun!"

    This book is hilarious - and is in its own way more sci-fi than some of the sci-fi I've read. Having Wil Wheaton read it is a good thing and a bad thing. Mr. Wheaton has some problem differentiating different characters with accents and such.
    On the other hand - Sci-Fi fans are well aware of Mr. Wheaton - and his 'geek cred' elevates this book to some extent.
    One thing that may be a result of Mr. Wheaton's lack of differentiation between characters, the script frequently breaks the dialog with things like 'X character said' or 'Y character said' sometimes many times within a minute, which does distract one from the story. Excepting that - this is a great book - and kept me interested from first to last.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Nelson Marietta, GA, United States 03-25-13
    Dave Nelson Marietta, GA, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2014
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    "It is not a Star Trek novel"

    John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton do it again. Redshirts is good fun in a goofy sci-fi story that I am surprised has not been made into a TV mini-series. Maybe someone will make a web series out of it one day.

    There is a lot of "inside baseball" and breaking of the fourth-wall here.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 03-22-13
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 03-22-13 Member Since 2013

    I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better than satire- SHATIRE!"

    It's every bit as funny as they've told you; The first half of the story is overflowing with ridiculous clichés from 'Star Trek' & it's like. If you're fan of the series, than this alone is worth the price of admission. The unexpected leap the characters make of recognizing the nature of their predicament, and then devising a plan to confront their creators is perfectly in tone with the series while also transcendent.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Coleslaw Boulder, CO USA 03-05-13
    Coleslaw Boulder, CO USA 03-05-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Can you *get* any more meta?"

    Buckle up, friends, because the way this book shifts gears around 2/3 of the way through puts the likes of Million Dollar Baby to shame.

    I've enjoyed Scalzi books before and since, and I'm always glad to hear Wil Wheaton narrate, particularly when you get the uncanny sense that he's poking gentle fun at the author's awkward-to-read bits. You could turn his delivery of "Dahl said--Duvall said--Dahl said--" into a nice hip-hop remix.

    Just as he has in his other books, Scalzi treats a farcical and absurd premise with a surprisingly naturalistic tone and serious philosophical meditation. Still quite funny in places, though not as raucously as the likes of Galaxy Quest, which I suppose it still most closely resembles.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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  • Michael
    Gosport, United Kingdom
    7/18/12
    Overall
    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Simon
    Singapore, Singapore
    12/4/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Meta- but in a good way"
    Where does Redshirts rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The last scene, which I won't say more about, because it would spoil it.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both actually, but it was surprisingly touching towards the end, considering how tongue in cheek the concept seems.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A. Farenden
    Essex, UK
    6/25/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One annoying flaw in an excellent piece of prose."
    What did you like most about Redshirts?

    I liked the principle most, and the inner monologues. The fact that nobody knew why they were doing what they did.


    What other book might you compare Redshirts to, and why?

    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.


    What about Wil Wheaton’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Karen
    London, United Kingdom
    8/5/12
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Norma Miles
    6/6/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "To Intrepidly go where no man has gone ..."

    O.K. this might not be high literature. From its very story integrity it cannot be perfect science. But goodness me, what fun this book is. And what a fantastic science fiction comic pastiche film it would make following in the footsteps of the wonderful Dark Star or, more recently, Galaxy Quest.
    Full of well delineated characters, loads of action all read brilliantly by Will Wheaton, the main story had me laughing out loud. And it comes with a bonus of 3 'afterwards' stories as well.
    Just brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • C. Forrester
    UK
    4/16/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "And he said, and she said, and he said...."

    It was a great read and the first Scalzi I have picked up. However the audio production needs some work. Will does a great job overall however the immersion can be broken somewhat with him having to read each amd every "he said" or "she said" the dialogue can be quite short and punchy and looses something with Will having to put these in all the time. His voice work is more than good enough to be able to follow which character is saying what without the constant prompting from the text. Didn't ruin the book but was an annoyance. Still 5* overall

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Christine
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    4/12/15
    Overall
    "Superbly entertaining"

    I have listened to this story over and over and I still laugh. Love the narration, and the twists and turns. It doesn't get tired.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Karlis
    GB
    2/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Funny and deep"

    Very funny to begin with but has more to it than I had expected by the end.
    I prefer the story proper to the codas as it feels like the story has taken a different turn. But I enjoyed this listen overall.
    Wil Wheaton does a good job and handles the comedy moments well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Robert
    1/6/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More you I expected."

    I purchased this book on the recommendation of a friend and enjoyed it much more than I expected. The story isn't as simple as I thought and the ending made me smile.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 28daysearlier
    Cornwall, UK
    11/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A must for any fan of Trek!"
    Any additional comments?

    Being a life long fan of the Trekverse i thought i was probably was either going to love or hate this fun little read from an author I'd never tried before. As it happened i was torn in two on it.

    I should clarify that i had the audio-book version which was decently read by Wil Wheaton who at best was an excellent meta choice because of his place in the Trekverse and all things geek but on the negative side, although his reading is strong and clear, he really doesn't have the range of 'voices' that the best audio actors employ to bring their readings alive.

    Scalzi had great fun here cannibalizing the absurdity of badly written sc-fi TV and even those of us who love the genre, both good and bad will chuckle and guffaw our way through a novel and plot which pokes holes in all of the tropes we, the army of geeks, eat up time and time again. There is also quite an interesting examination on the nature of free will similar to that aired in the excellent 'Stranger than Fiction' starring Will Farrell and Emma Thompson, which extends beyond the main story and into the epilogue and codas.

    On the negative side does Scalzi really feel it necessary to use the word 'said' before or after every statement made by every character at every stage of the book? This was particularly annoying in the frequent snappy backwards and forwards between the key characters.

    I used the phrase 'meta' earlier and this applies not only to the genre aspects but in that Scalazi uses this to examine the art of writing. This becomes especially apparent with the 'epilogue' and the 'codas' written after the main action narrative has concluded which seems to be an examination of plot, character, general quality of written drama and the reasons for/difficulty of overcoming, writers block.

    In summary great premise, interesting thoughts on the art of writing let down by an annoying writers tic and a slightly one dimensional reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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