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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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  •  
    Ken Millbrook, New York, United States 11-20-12
    Ken Millbrook, New York, United States 11-20-12 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It's all about the codas"

    Before he wrote novels himself Scalzi was one of the best reviewers of science fiction in all of fandom (on his "Whatever" blog, still enormously popular), and in this book he takes the task of commenting on science fiction to new heights of humor and recursive, post-post-modern meta. The novel itself looks like a simple commentary on an oft-noted trope in the Star Trek series where nameless characters in the opening scene's away mission inevitably wind up dead in some dramatic fashion, but in fact it is a commentary on science fiction writing (for television in particular) and science fiction watching, a commentary that itself becomes the target of commentary in the codas, sort of, if you think about it the right way, maybe. In short, this is navel gazing at its most amusing, and in the end you have to stop thinking about it because either this book is just plain silly and not worth taking seriously, or the the actual world is just plain silly and not worth taking seriously. You decide.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cristina Hatfield Oklahoma 12-10-12
    Cristina Hatfield Oklahoma 12-10-12 Member Since 2011

    Fidgit77

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    "Quite an enjoyable read"

    It's not without its flaws but overall it was certainly worth a credit.

    Laugh out loud funny at several points and it prompted me to put several of his other books on my TBR list.

    If you know what a Redshirt is, then you'll probably enjoy this book.
    If you're a fan of Wil Wheaton, then you'll probably enjoy this book.

    If you know that you are likely to be distracted to the point of RageQuit by the overuse of a word, then I wouldn't recommend this. The only nitpicky negative critique I have about this book is that is a dialogue heavy book and the word "said" is used to the point of annoyance.

    Regardless of that, it is a fun book and I enjoyed it.

    40 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paige Evanston, IL, United States 09-16-13
    Paige Evanston, IL, United States 09-16-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Not his Wheal-house"

    I love Wil Wheaton reading this book read by a former actor on Star Trek is kind of amazing. His delivery of some of the deadpan and laugh out loud lines in this book is excellent.

    However his total lack of character voices make some of the dialogue heavy passages really challenging to follow. You end up having to pay careful attention to the "he said she saids" at end of most of the lines. And then you're just tired of hearing the word "said."

    There isn't even really a differentiation between the male characters and the one female character which can be incredibly confusing. It doesn't help that some of the character names can be similar to, so you're struggling to catch who said what.

    The story itself is a fabulous farce, with really interesting philosophical implications. It was both funny and thought provoking. If you're a fan of Mr. Wheaton's you might be willing to forgive his shortcomings as a narrator, but I might still recommend the text version over the audiobook.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kent Springfield, VA, United States 04-18-13
    Kent Springfield, VA, United States 04-18-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Clever, creative, and FUN!"

    What a creative and clever way to look at characters! I don't know if this started off with Scalzi saying, "Hmmm, I wonder if I can write in various points of view, and look behind the scenes of how characters tick?", or as just a random idea. Regardless - it worked! The main story was funny, poignant, and creative. The separate coda were well-linked to the main story in a very heart-felt manner. I really liked this book a lot! I am fastly becoming a huge Scalzi fan-boy! “Old Man’s War”, “Fuzzy Nation”, and not “Redshirts” – all good stuff! Oh, but, I guess amidst all this mush of Scalzi-love, I probably should point out that he does have a tendency to use the screenplay style ("he said", "she said") a bit too much! And, particularly in an audiobook, this becomes VERY obvious…and not just a little irritating! Let's just call this his "room to grow" as an author! (Maybe that's how he gets his word-count up for meeting publisher requirements???) Still, other than that one affectation, I really like the way he thinks and writes! His dialog is crisp and focused, and his characters are ALWAYS unique and enjoyable. I will definitely read/listen to more of his works!
    And, as an audiobook, Wil Wheaton did an excellent job as Narrator - which makes sense that he'd be able to inflect emotion into these characters because, he himself (as Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek TNG") must have felt like his character might just as casually become just such a "Redshirt" in the early days of his TV series appearances. Wil Wheaton did a really good job of putting dynamic range into the various characters - with more vocal intonations than I'm use to from him (as an audiobook Narrator). He really got into these characters!
    So, from all perspectives, this was an excellent listen!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 12-18-13
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 12-18-13 Member Since 2008

    Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Fun Little Meta Story"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    george United States 08-14-12
    george United States 08-14-12 Member Since 2011

    I'm a technician that does a lot of driving for his job. I use the "windshield" time to listen to audiobooks.

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    "Fun, entertaining, and worth it."

    The first 80% of the book is quite entertaining and funny. My only complaint, the constant, use of the word "said". No one remarks, commented, replies, asks, etc. There must be 10 or 15 ways to say "he said", it would have been nice to use any of them in addition to the he said/she said combination. After awhile your brain gets numb to it. The last part (20%) of the book is what I would call a 3 part epilogue, and without giving anything away, is some of the most human writing I've read in a while, and by itself, almost worth the price of admission. I've new found respect for John Scalzi. Wil Wheaton does a very good job reading. I'd be surprised if anyone buys this audiobook (or the real book) and feels that they didn't get their money's worth.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 06-06-12
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 06-06-12 Member Since 2011

    I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.

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    "Scalzi writes another winner/it's really different"

    Listening to the first hour of so of "Redshirts" I was sure it was just another funny story, full of sly humor and sassy one liners that make me laugh the way "Fuzzy Nation" and "Agent to the Aliens" did. When I heard about the book on Scalzis blog and read the beginning paragraphs I was sure thats where it would go-and I'm fine with that. I love his fun novels. Everyone needs a laugh at one time or another. Except for the head banging "He Said", "She said" dialogue that Scalzi writes (which seems to drive we audiobook listeners bonkers), the start of Wil Wheatons reading of Scalzi's new novel led me to believe I'd laugh the evening away.

    Then it got a bit serious. Funny, still, but serious with a strange twist that had me totally amazed at the concept. I had to rewind a chapter here and there because I was sure I'd missed something. I wasn't getting it all. As the novel got deeper into the left hand turn the plot had made, it didn't lose it's fun jauntiness but it did gather even more unexpected sober, tough thinking adding plenty of "I never thought about that before" to the plot .

    Character development is ...well..odd because Scalzi has developed his main protagonists along a couple of different lines. Pathways I had never considered in many years as an SF reader and viewer (and listener even). It's good character development...we know the protagonists- we have known them for years, even decades of Star Trek and they never seem to change..but these characters are sharper, more developed and very clever when they analyze their situation aboard the Universal Union Capital Ship "Intrepid", flag ship of the galaxy. They have a captain who is completely J.T. Kirkian in attitude and language, a ships engineer, doctor...in fact all the standard characters we have gotten used to seeing-including new ensigns wearing red shirts. The ones who die on away missions.

    I don't write spoilers so all this sounds vague but I want to encourage listeners to stick with the book through the irritating dialogue then listen carefully to the next few hours.

    As for the Codas,I think they add to the book. I don't know how else Scalzi would have added the information..it wouldn't have fit into the body of the novel. And though it isn't really vital information it is lore that adds to the novel and incases our knowledge of the characters. Some reviewers on the Amazon site discounted the codas entirely. I think they are part of the book and it's an interesting way to insert this data into the book.

    This is a book for SF lovers, Star Wars/Star Trek fans, ComicCon goers and generally those of us who grew up with Heinlein and Roddenberry, with Ray Bradbury (who passed away today at age 91) and Rod Serling, with Neil Gaiman and Isaac Asimov.
    Scalzi fits in with all these guys, especially the early Robert Heinlein YA books, though theres nothing YA about "Redshirts".

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    58 of 67 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bradford Omaha, NE, United States 03-06-13
    Bradford Omaha, NE, United States 03-06-13 Member Since 2001
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    "Disappointing, but somehow still worth a listen."

    There were a few reasons I was intrigued enough to purchase this audiobook. First, I was eager to read my first John Scalzi book and see what he could do. Second, I'm a fan of Wil Wheaton as a narrator. Third, I'm a huge Star Trek fan. So, the idea of a novel based around one of the funnier/sad aspects of ST:TOS, I was excited to read this book. My intrigue quickly turned to disappointment especially once the core story's big reveal took place and the course of the 2nd half of the novel came into focus. But to Scalzi's credit, I cared enough about his characters by that point that I wanted to find out what happened to them, so I read on. After finishing the book I had to endure the three codas. Interesting as they were, Scalzi had more than used up my patience by that point with the storyline and his writing. I was surprised to find the codas were written better than the main novel itself! I look forward to reading more Scalzi novels to determine whether this is one of his lesser works or if he really is this below-average a writer. Regardless, he should fire his editor who for some unknown reason allowed a novel to be published with a nearly endless stream of "he said" and "she said" on every page. You can even hear Wheaton begin to sigh at points after reciting "he said" nearly a dozen times over the course of 30 seconds. Wheaton continues to impress me with his narration skills, bringing life to a group of characters and making the story enjoyable enough for me to stick around. Fans of ST:TOS should enjoy the references as well as the take on the meaningless deaths of so many characters, but I for one think Scalzi could have approached the same idea in a different way with more success. Regardless, the characters are worth the time, if for no other reason than to hear futuristic space explorers/warriors cursing like modern-day truckers.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce Wilsonville, OR, United States 06-07-12
    Joyce Wilsonville, OR, United States 06-07-12 Member Since 2008
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    "What Fun!!!`"

    I cannot fully express how much fun this book is.

    I love the fact that Wil Wheaton reads this, and that he sounds like he is impersonating Captin Kirk in his rendition-This makes it even more fun.

    It is outlandish and requires a complete suspension of disbelief. And, yes, I enjoyed Star Trek and its spin-offs (with the exception of Deep Space Nine) and there are lots of tongue-in-cheek references to the original series. I found myself smiling regularly as I listened and laughing out loud frequently. I highly recommend this book if you enjoyed Star Trek. Redshirts is a book I will bring out if I am feeling blue or nostalgic and need a dose of laughter.

    I am relatively new to Scalzi, but I love his dry humor and ramapant sarcasm. He is a man after my own heart!

    Highly recommended by a Trekkie (Ok, I never actually attended a convention so I might only be an honorary Trekkie~)

    32 of 39 people found this review helpful
  •  
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 06-07-12
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 06-07-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Galaxy Quest meets Scalzi"

    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!

    46 of 57 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
  • Max
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    7/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "poor concept, but well performed"
    What disappointed you about Redshirts?

    the concept was very frustrating, and it did not work for me


    What could John Scalzi have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    see above


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Wil Wheaton?

    yes


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointed, as the plot was basically a single concept


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Liz
    Norwich, United Kingdom
    4/28/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Velvet
    northamptonshire, UK
    3/31/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great narration, writer skill let it down overall"
    What would have made Redshirts better?

    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.


    What was most disappointing about John Scalzi’s 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.


    Have you listened to any of Wil Wheaton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    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.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Amusement, annoyance, frustration, disappointment.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • L. Savage
    Essex, United Kingdom
    2/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Two good books tacked together"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


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

    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.


    What does Wil Wheaton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    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.


    Could you see Redshirts being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

    I could see this being a 1 hour special on Sci-fi if they drop the last third of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    Seriously disappointing, yet still I'm pleased I read it - a contradiction but one I can live with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sheamus
    UK
    12/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A quick witted parody of a distopian Star Trek"
    If you could sum up Redshirts in three words, what would they be?

    Don't wear Red


    What did you like best about this story?

    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?"


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andy
    Manchester, United Kingdom
    11/6/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining story with well matched naration"
    What made the experience of listening to Redshirts the most enjoyable?

    The tone suited me and I enjoyed the meta-story


    Any additional comments?

    A great story that drags a little with the extra codas - they become a little too meta - but an entertaining story that suits Wheaton's drawl.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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