Wednesday 11 September 2013

Redshirts - John Scalzi

Title: Redshirts
Author: John Scalzi
Genre: Humour/Sci-Fi
Published: 2012
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"Redshirts" by John Scalzi is an amusing novel which should appeal to anyone who has watched Star Trek and felt sorry for the way in which it is always an extra, or redshirt, that dies when the crew visits a planet. The book has actually been sitting on my shelf for quite a while now but I decided to finally read it as part of the 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge which required me to read a humorous novel and this book really fit the bill.

The story itself follows the starship Intrepid and its voyage to explore new worlds and new civilizations. However, rather than focusing on the captain and his senior staff, it focuses on Ensign Andrew Dahl and his fellow low-ranked crew members who slowly begin to realise that their fellow Ensigns are dying at an alarming rate. As they dig deeper into this mystery, they uncover an uncomfortable truth that leads them on an unexpected journey through time and space.

At its core this novel could simply be taken as an entertaining spoof of Star Trek in the same vein as Galaxy Quest. However, I think there is more to it than that as it gets quite metaphysical with a link between the voyages of the Intrepid and people in the 21st century writing a Science Fiction TV show. This is further enhanced by the fact that around half the novel is actually made up of some additional codas. These codas further explore the 21st Century world after the crew of the Intrepid have visited and influenced several people.

To be honest, I think it was the Codas that appealed to me the most in this novel. The main story was funny and enjoyable but these Codas added a little bit more variety and depth to the story and I found myself forming much more of a connection with the characters.

The writing itself was probably the weakest element in the novel as it felt very lazy. There was basically little to no descriptive exposition meaning I had no idea how anything looked etc. It was mainly just dialogue which actually began to get on my nerves as I progressed through the story as it was very choppy and got bogged down by the constant use of “X said” and “Y Said” as shown below:

“Blah, Blah, Blah.” Dahl said.
“Blah, Blah, Blah.” Hanson said.
“Blah, Blah, Blah.” Dahl said.
“Blah, Blah, Blah.” Hanson said.

And so on! All I can say is that I am glad I read the book and didn’t pick up the audiobook as this would probably have driven me mad if I was listening to it. I just wish he had tried other ways to bring across conversations instead of always reverting to this format.

Overall, this was an entertaining and enjoyable lampoon of Star Trek with some deeper meaning held within the various Codas. The writing does let the book down in my opinion and this helped to ensure that I never really engaged with the main characters. However, if you are a fan of Star Trek then I am sure there will be something you find in this book that can make you smile.


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