Redshirts

redshirts_800

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $9.99
Paperback $11.09
Hardback $20.27
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780765316998
9780765334794 — Paperback
9781410476074 — Hardcover
9781466815414
9781429963602

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

4P because its still a little niche, but with Star Trek back in the mainstream it may be more popular than before.

4Q because meta can be hard to read and the formating and voice totally changes, which it should, but it could throw some people off.

Readers Annotation

This is what happens when the redshirts are aware of what tends to happen to them.

Summary

This is the story of 5 new recruits to the spaceship Intrepid: Brian, Hester, Hanson, Finn, and Duvall. Brian thinks there’s something strange going on on the ship. When one of the 5 senior officers appears, the crew mysteriously disappears. There is a box in the Sciencelab that can solve any problem. After having to use the box to create a cure for a deadly disease, Brian is sent to the bridge with specific instructions on how to present the information to Science Officer Queeng. After he delivers his information he and Finn run into a “yeti” who tells them to stay off the bridge if they want to survive.

Brian learns that anyone who isn’t one of the 5 senior officers has a tendency to die on away missions with alarming frequency. The crew is constantly looking for people to replace their murdered crew.

Brian needs to figure out what is happening, and decides to track down Jenkins, the “yeti” who lives in the bowels of the ship alerting crew when a senior officer is coming. Jenkins tells the 5 friends that they are on a poorly written SciFi television show. When they go on away missions or to the bridge they get sucked into the Narrative. Jenkins tells the friends that they are glorified extras because they come with backstory so that it will make viewers sad when they inevitably die. Finn doesn’t believe anything that Jenkins says, but after he and Brian go on an away mission with suspicious ties to Finn, he is killed and his dying words are for Brian to fix this.

Jenkins tells the friends they need to go back in time and confront the writers of the show, so the friends abduct Karensky (one of the senior staff) so that they can travel back in time. They find Brian and Karensky’s counterparts and get a meeting with the creator of the series. He doesn’t believe them until he sees Hestor, who looks just like his son who is in a coma. Together they figure out a way to save the son and convince the head writer to stop the senseless slaughter of background crew.

There are three endings: one from the writer’s POV, one from the son’s and one from the woman who had played Jenkins wife on the show.

Evaluation

Love, love, love! I wasn’t expecting it to be so meta, but it was pretty amazing. I really liked that they were on a show, and that they had to figure out who to stop themselves from being needlessly killed and that the creators of the show had to come to terms with what they were doing. The plot was great. I wasn’t expecting it to go in the direction it did, but that was nice. The characters were all three dimensional. You could feel the redshirts need to fix their situation, and even the people in the “present” were clearly motivated even though we didn’t get too much of them.

Especially for someone who liked Star Trek or was in any way familiar with something similar, this was believable. People not so familiar with the genre may have a little trouble with it, it can work with prior knowledge much better than without.

The main emotion I got out of this story was joy. It had some really touching moments: the third coda in specific, but mostly it was a fun romp that went into serious philosophical ideas.

I think SciFi fans would love this book. It plays on a lot of the tropes prevalent in the genre and turns them on their head. I think that the meta aspects of the book make it even more enjoyable for the reader. Flaws might be that the reader might not have wanted something meta and actually wanted the redshirts to have another explanation, but it doesn’t have many flaws writing wise.

Genre

Science Fiction, Metafiction, Humor

Readalikes

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez

Phule’s Company by Robert Asprin

Significance

A great meta look at the tropes at play in one of the big names in SciFi entertainment. Very unique take on a Star Trek sort of universe.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Do you think the senior officers were aware of the tendency of the people around them to die at an alarming rate?

Let’s talk about meta.

What would you have done if you were a redshirt and aware that you were probably goin to die?

Author’s website

John Scalzi

Awards

Hugo Awards: Best Novel

Locus Awards: SF Novel

Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award – Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2012

Reviews

NY Times

Kirkus

Why I Chose It

I saw that it was about Star Trek ish things and had a mighty need to read it. Plus, great title.

Other Information

Advertisements