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 an enjoyable listen, especially if you're a Star Trek fan. It gradually dawns on you why this is funny and interesting to Trekkies. I didn't find it really engaging though.
Once I figured out what the plot was really about, I was interested to see how Scalzi could make the premise work, however, I thought the characters were even more one-dimensional than he intended them to be.
None stand out more than any other. Wil has a good speaking voice, but he does not do a lot with the individual characters.
Possibly, certainly if it was downloadable on Hulu or Netflix.
John Scalzi's work gets better over time, but he's not a major author like Heinlein, Clarke or Bradbury. His work is fun and enjoyable, but not terribly memorable.
The initial premise was fantastic and engaging. I was laughing and intrigued through the first coda.
I have enjoyed John Scalzi and give anything he wrote a try.mHe has a way of presenting the story in a way that you want to know more but he keeps you guessing as you move along with the story.
This is my third Wil Wheaton/John Scalzi pairing and I have enjoyed each and every one. I would consider Wil as a narrator, he has a Tim Allen like delivery.
The premise of this book, in all of it meta splendor tickled me greatly. I think the first story is a riot and couldn't stop giggling my way through it. The following two codes were schmaltzy and overwrought.
This title had great potential but the finish made it only O.K.
Not really. The author's writing style doesn't translate well into audiobook format. He ends most dialog with "______ said." On paper, one's mind can skip over this. While listening, it becomes glaringly annoying. The author needs to break out a thesaurus or something and try to use some different terms instead almost always using "said" (eg asked, reported, growled, grunted, shouted, queried, exclaimed etc).
Read the following out loud to see what I mean about the "____ said."
"How was the book?" John said
"It was so-so." Bill said
"Why do you say that?" John said
"It started off strong, but then started to involve time travel and meta-reality." Bill said
"What else didn't you like?" John said
"The author's use of [blank] said." Bill said
"What about it?" John said
"It's annoying to hear after every sentence." Bill said
Most: The idea of the lowly red-shirt coming to realize their plight
Least: Making it all involve some meta-reality that required time travel to a different reality to fix.
Wheaton is clear and easy to understand, but all of his characters sound identical.
My wife says she can read me like an open book. Though she regrets not being able to shut me up the same way. :)
I stuck with this to the end. Mainly because many other reviews cautioned about needing to do so. I'm glad I did; you should too if you buy this book.
The story was good enough. However, I think my main issue is that I had been first exposed to John Scalzi's work via the Old Man's War series. THAT was a great sci-fi gig with lots of creative science to back up the creative fiction I was asked to consume. And, it was a fun ride.
In Red Shirts, however, I came in expecting one thing, but ended up getting another and felt a bit like all the supporting rationale was conveniently ignored. Add to that the fact that I struggled with narrator Wil Wheaton's performance. No character voice diversity whatsoever: ALL the characters -- male, female, elder, youngers, -- everybody! sounded like Wil Wheaton. So I really felt like I had to work to keep up with whom was saying what in the dialog.
An unfortunate byproduct of having to really work hard to keep up with the shifting characters, is that I consequently zero'd-in on the "he said," "John said," "she said," "...said...said...said" interjections in the narrative that I didn't notice before until after I read other reviews -- and listening to the narration in this book.
Bottom line: Not my favorite. But it WASN'T a wasted credit. Buy it if you've liked Scalzi's other works. But, go in expecting a creative writing experiment by the author, while not expecting a lot of diversity in character voices.
Takes the cultural meme of the Redshirts and goes behind the scenes.
Imaginative way to bring some affection to these types of characters.
Wheaton does an amazing job narrating - this is not the first work of his I've listened to and I've sought out this one as a result. Check Ready Player One for another great story he reads with particular affection.
The codas kinda threw me off. Gotta be ready for one story, and then three short ones.
I don't think I have ever read a more self-aware book. I laughed so much during this book. A lot of the time, I was laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of the story. I loved the way Scalzi brought in just about every science fiction trope that I can think of and worked it into the story. I loved the silliness in the story. I thought it was hilarious (as in private joke hilarious) that Wil Wheaton was reading this story. Really, I just loved this book. It's not this amazing work of fiction that will go down in history as the greatest story ever. But it is tons of fun. I have never watched the Star Trek series but I have watched science fiction and thought this was so much fun. I have a feeling if I was a Star Trek fan, I would have had even more fun with the story. If you're a sci-fi fan, I recommend you check this book out.
If you are a Star Trek fan you will like this book. It puts a good story on the red shirts that always die on away mission.
Wil does a very good job.
The voice acting was amazing! I also really enjoyed the story.
I can't really say I have a favorite. They were all performed very well and each had their own distinct personality.
Stop reading after the main plot line resolves! The epilogue flounders, at best, and appears to go on forever.
I almost didn’t listen to this one. The reviews aren’t quite as glowing as they are for some of Scalzi’s other books. That would have been a tragedy, as this book is my favorite by Scalzi. There seem to be two camps of Scalzi readers: those who got into his work through Old Man’s War, and those who got into him through Agent to the Stars, Fuzzy Nation, or The Androids Dream. If you, like me, fall into the later camp (and found Old Man’s War underwhelming, and love quirky sci-fi), please don’t skip Redshirts.
All three codas were wonderful. In fact, for me, the actual novel just felt like a set up for the codas, where all the really interesting questions about reality and meaning and purpose were actually raised.
Wil Wheaton is a phenomenal narrator, as usual. I really like the sound of his voice (and honestly would not have noticed all the “he saids” if I hadn’t read the reviews here first. And if you think about it, having Wil Wheaton narrate the novel adds a whole other level of meta.
It actually did both. Laughter I was expecting, having read Scalzi’s other books, but this was the first one that choked me up a bit. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say the ending was very touching.
The only thing that bothered me about this book was the title! I really wish he hadn’t called it Redshirts. The joke about redshirts is pretty common in geeky circles, so I knew exactly what was “wrong” on the Intrepid from the beginning. With a different title, I would have been able to enjoy that first surprise. Fortunately that twist is not really the main one of the novel—the more interesting parts involve how Scalzi really fully explores the meaning and repercussions of this type of scenario.
This book was on my wish list for quite a while. I was fascinated by the concept, but am not a Wil Wheaton fan at all based on his Star Trek persona. But I finished the "Old Man's War" series and I needed a new fix of Scalzi, so decided to buy "Redshirts". And am glad I did.
The concept of the story plays off the original Star Trek episodes where semi-anonymous Ensigns, wearing red shirts, were killed off while on away missions. I won't go into details so I don't ruin the surprises, but Scalzi does a great job translating this idea to an universe where this is a fact of life for a group of junior officers on a space vessel. I did wonder if he would be able to sustain the premise for an entire book and am happy to report that he could.
I also noticed that the author included three codas to the end of the books. At first, I feared they would be "alternate endings" but turned out to be enhancements to the main story.
And as much as I didn't like Wil Wheaton as Ensign Crusher (the character should have been given a red shirt and sent on a away mission early in the series), I have to admit he did a great job. Based on this performance, I went on to also purchase "Fuzzy Nation" by the same performer/author.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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
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.
"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.
"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.
"A must for any fan of Trek!"
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.
"poor concept, but well performed"
the concept was very frustrating, and it did not work for me
disappointed, as the plot was basically a single concept
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