Every Star Trek fan who enjoys some light-hearted sci-fi should read John Scalzi’s Hugo award winning novel, Redshirts.
You may even appreciate it if you’re not a Trekker. For instance, I haven’t seen much of the original series, from which this book gets its premise. I’m just a huge TNG fan and am familiar enough with the red shirt trope, which is this:
The captain and a senior officer or two go on a dangerous away mission. Obviously the main characters can’t die (Star Trek wasn’t written by George RR Martin after all), but the show needs to raise the stakes. So they take another crew member, usually someone we’ve never or rarely seen. The poor sap, wearing a red shirt, gets killed on the mission. Drama!
John Scalzi pushes this trope as far as he can and has a lot of fun doing it. His characters find themselves assigned to the Intrepid, the flagship of the Universal Union. They quickly discover some mysterious phenomena associated with the ship, the most disturbing being the high death rate of their fellow crew. They try to stay alive while investigating what the hell is going on.
I listened to this book via Audible, read by Wil Wheaton. He’s a perfect voice for Scalzi’s often sarcastic dialogue.
On the minus side, I sometimes tired of the sardonic tone, and the premise wore a little thin for me by the end. But the tone was appropriate for the material, and it was cool to see the premise pushed so far. The codas at the end of the novel hushed my doubts and had me cheering. All in all, a very fun and geeky read.
You can buy it here.
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