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.
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.
Being a fan of the Star Trek franchise this was a great book, the tropes of the series being applied to this story and the way the characters try to deal with it is great. It had me laughing in sections. The fact Will Wheaton reads it adds to the irony.
My hearing will surely go out early in life due to all the audiobooks I listen to!
Wikipedia? IMDb? and what are the redshirts? Well think of Star Trek. A fictional character that has a semi-useful part in the story and is expendable, gets labeled by said shirts colored red and eventually gets killed off. But that's just a show right? The story John Scalzi has here has been one of my favorite listens. The plot twist is so crazy its just too impossible to imagine and I promise it will hit you like a ton of bricks. It has everything you need: Time and space travel, advanced weapons, mysterious creatures from different planets impaling/clawing/mutilating its victims, etc. etc.
I literally laughed out loud at some of the moments in this audiobook and its replay value is worth more than what I paid. Also Scalzi gives you more than you bargained for! The end of the book comes with 3 CODAS. Think of them as...mini stories. They give the reader/listener closure, and the stories are chock full of emotion, personal enlightenment and happy endings.
Wil Wheaton narrates this story perfectly and not in giving different characters different voices, but giving them different tones that gives you a good idea of their personalities. That being said this IS my first Scalzi novel and I will definitely be getting more in the near future. For fans of...well anything, this book is for you. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
In sales and on the road a lot. Love SciFi, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and the occasional Non-Fiction. Funny. Opinionated.
Obvious homeage to old-school Star Trek hooked me (as you apparently) and got me to buy the book. Past experience with Scalzi/Wheaton in Agent to the Stars left me expecting decent, but fun, writing and top-notch narration. That was basically what I got. You'll see that there are some cool formatting things that Scalzi does to break up the story and show various perspectives and not just once you'll think "Oh, there's more?" It's fun but does slow down at times and never has you at the edge of your seat. Worth reading to say you read it; you won't regret spending the credit.
Ready Player One comes to mind because it too takes it's material from nerd history/culture. This is not Ready Player One however and could not hold a candle to that marvel of modern nerd writing. Seriously, if you are reading THIS and have not read THAT just stop right now and go check it out.
OK, still with me? Cool. Now go ahead and read Redshirts and forget that I ever compared the two. You're welcome.
That's a tough one. I will say that undoubtedly I enjoyed him reading from the Blog-rant section the most. That was good satire.
"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!
A great book to get into! Story line and narration are really good. I'd highly recommend this!
"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.
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