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.
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.
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
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.
My favorite genres are absurdist humor, Sci-fi & modern fantasy, but, as you can see, I'll read just about anything. Don't mind the typos.
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!
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.
l'enfer c'est les autres
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!
Devourer of all books fantasy
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.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
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.
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.
'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!
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
superbly read and oddly believable I could imagine myself in the situations following the characters
"worth a read"
not something I thought I would enjoy, however after listening for a few minutes I stayed enjoying it. would recommend to others
"Great listen, if a little jarring sometimes."
I loved this book, the concept was great, the characters, great and the performance - while not as good as Wheaton's other reads maybe - still absorbed me into the story. The codas in particular I thought came across as funny, involving and touching all at once and here was where Wheaton excelled. Much has already been made in other reviews here of the overreliance on 'he said' 'she said' 'he asked' etc and they are right, but you do eventually start to tune it out and I think this is more the fault of the editing for the audio read than against the writing or the performance as it doesn't notice as much when you read the physical copy yourself. I was surprised at how the book changes throughout. What starts as a sort of goofy idea full of nerd lore becomes a rumination on life, the soul and our place in the universe and reality. Once you get past the said issue, I'd highly recommend this to anyone, nerd and non nerd alike!
Hear Adam Savage talk about this in his Tested.com podcast. Lived up to his rating. Must read/listen if you are into Trek!
"this was like a teenage boy reading a comic...."
if it had been half as good as his previous book
wil wheaten is a great narrator but this is not his finest
john scalzi has written better novels, go and try the one about the agent to the alien, its funny
"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.
"Funny, but slightly annoying..."
A great story, but you're better of reading it. As much as I love Wil Wheaton his narration is a bit flat, and John Scalzi needs to learn some synonyms for "said" and "asked" -- the dialogue is painful to listen to as almost *every* line is followed by "[someone] said", and once you notice it it becomes impossible to ignore.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.