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.
Wow, that was painful. While I enjoyed, to a certain extent, the foundation of the story, that of a parallel universe, the writing style was poor. A rough example of how the story was written:
"Hello" he said.
"Oh hi" she said
"You look good" he said
"Thank you" she said
"Your welcome" he said
"And you look good too" she said
Enough. Even writing that way is painful, but hopefully it illustrates the style you'll be subjected to should you pick this one up.
I was also a bit disappointed in Wil Wheaton's narration. I think I was expecting a bit more energy.
So, in summary, I would avoid this one...
This book gave me a few laugh out loud moments and was fun to listen to. The concept was an interesting one to wrap a story around. I would recommend it if you know what a 'red shirt' is, or if you are a fan of Sci Fi in general.
I thought Wil Wheaton did a good job with the narration. He had no range of voices, so each sentence started with "John said" "Fred said" "Bill said" but once you get used to that, it was fine. But after hearing some of the great narrators here, it was hard to rate performance very high.
The author does not spend any time with adjectives, leaving it to you to decide the look and feel of most things in the story. That is not good or bad, but stuck in my head.
I would recommend this, and if you see it on sale, I would highly recommend it.
A fantastic novel which goes much further then just a novel about travelling in space!
I found myself laughing out loud regularly and even had a sob at one point. The characters are endearing and engrossing to read about.
This is actually two books: A mediocre and often groan-worthy SF fanfic that is not helped by a flat audiobook performance, and a series of interesting and thought-provoking novellas exploring some of the themes and questions arising due to the premise of that fanfic.
The "main" body of the novel, the Star Trek gag meta-commentary, basically explores the same absurdities of Trek that Galaxy Quest did so well, using similar genre-aware asides and other fourth-wall breaking techniques. The problem is that while GQ was a tightly scripted feature-length film with hilarious acting, the main story of Redshirts just drags on and on. It's clear that Scalzi is trying to evoke absurdist humor-SF in the vein of Douglas Adams, but the wordcrafting and dialogue really fails to deliver. Obviously, getting Wil Wheaton as narrator is practically a necessity for a Trek spoof, but even that piece of meta-fanservice doesn't save the humor.
As narrator, Wil Wheaton had a pleasant enough voice, but very flat delivery which pretty much killed whatever humor was in the main body of the novel. He doesn't "do voices," so every character sounds nearly identical. The writing in the "main" section happens to mesh particularly poorly with the audiobook format. In particular, Scalzi tends to write extended dialogues as huge sequences of:
"This," said John.
"That," said Jane.
"Really?" said John.
"Yes," said Jane.
While the repetitive quotations are bad enough in print, having every single "said John" read out like some kind of verbal tic was akin to water torture, to the point where I had to stop listening several times rather than throw my player across the room.
It's possible that the intent of the whole "main" section is that the whole novel is also meant to be a bad spoof of Mary Sue-esque Trek fanfic, but if so, the "joke" fell completely flat.
The only thing that saves this from being a one-star review was the three "codas". These are pretty much novellas in their own right, each of which explores some of the ramifications of the "main" body's premise in a much more thoughtful way while backing off of the attempted absurdist humor. The tone and theme makes these sections a much better match for Wheaton's reading, and the writing quality is a quantum leap in improved quality.
Love listening to books and walking. Connected to Audible at least 6 hours a day.
Wither your playing sports or watching sci fi, beware of the redshirts. I great listen.
I'm so glad I got this. As soon as I started listening, I couldn't stop. It is absolutely hilarious and awesome. The writer does use the word "said" a lot -- A LOT -- but the content of the story is so good it overcomes that weakness.
Wil Wheaton is a good reader, but he needs to work on voicing characters. He does a good job with the content and inflection, and perfectly hits the humor -- he just needs some voices. Wil, if you read this -- please listen to Jonathan Davis read Snow Crash. You could be that good, you just need multiple voices for the different characters.
Yeah, I would have the narrator quit reading the "he said" or "she said" parts. It got very annoying.
Yes, as it is an enjoyable sci-fi romp
Probably not, unless it was a book I was truly interested in.
No. I know its blasphemous in this day and age, but not everything should have sequels.
I listen to a fair number of audiobook. This was #43 in 2013. It is also the 2nd Scalzi book I have listened to. I LOVED every part of this book. The style and "narrative" made me laugh out loud numerous times. It was fast paced, easy to follow, engaging, extremely funny, and very clever. I don't usually go for funny or satire in my reading/listening choices, however this is one of THE best books I have read/listened to all year. To really address the question as to what was most enjoyable, well the writing, the humor, the meta absurdist existentialism of it, Wil Wheaton's performance. I guess the only thing I did not like was that there was not more to enjoy.
Really I don't know if I had a favorite character. I think everyone struck me in their own purpose (as the author points out at the end of the "narrative". There weren't any bad characters... I don't really get the people who trash the characters. I think they are very believable and endearing in their attempt to escape "the narrative".
First off that Wil Wheaton does a book like this is just REALLY enjoyable. Someone from Star Trek (not to mention his other movies, Penny Arcade, and occasional Big Bang appearance) reading this just adds an entirely extra layer of cleverness to it. Wil is not as great with different character voices as other narrators (James Marsters or Christian Rummel for example), but really I would rather have had Wheaton read this over anyone else. His inflections, excitement, exacerbation all are superb. His performance really added a lot to the writing (not to discount the writing itself, it stands on its own), it just adds to it, like a great wine with a steak, or frosting on cake, or crazed killer robots on a space station!
I REALLY enjoyed the book. It was fun on many levels. First it was light, quick, fast paced, and enjoyable. Secondly it was very creative with pointing out flaws in bad science fiction and showing what happens between those moments. I like sci fi, but a lot of times I can't help but wonder why would you do that... this pokes fun at that while offering a glimpse of the consequences of "bad sci fi writing". As I mentioned above, I do A LOT of audiobooks a year and this is one of the best and most enjoyable I've experienced all year. Thank you John and thank you Wil!
I enjoy reading many books genres. But I love listening to fantasy books.
I was delighted with this book. I would have been delighted had it been just a spoof on the sci-fi genre. But it was so much deeper. I loved the multiple views and the "meta" character. And it had a deep message to boot. Will Wheaton was a great narrator too.
Tell us about yourself!
I would definitely recommend this book to a fellow Trekkie. It is a very clever, funny and at moments heartwarming story.
Jenkins. He figures everything out.
I have listened to one other book narrated by Wil Wheaton. I thought this was better, despite some awkward writing.
Watch some old Star Trek!
"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
"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.
"Great narration, writer skill let it down overall"
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.
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.
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.
Amusement, annoyance, frustration, disappointment.
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.
"Two good books tacked together"
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.
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.
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.
I could see this being a 1 hour special on Sci-fi if they drop the last third of the book.
Seriously disappointing, yet still I'm pleased I read it - a contradiction but one I can live with.
"A quick witted parody of a distopian Star Trek"
Don't wear Red
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?"
Report Inappropriate Content