Book Review: “Redshirts” by John Scalzi
Today Andrew is reviewing John Scalzi’s “Redshirts.”
Review: “Redshirts” (TOR, 2012; 314 pp) by John Scalzi
by Andrew Robins
On one level Redshirts is a relatively straightforward vehicle for a clever idea. If you are a fan of classic Star Trek or other shows in the genre, you will “get” this book and have an enjoyable read.
In jokes abound. Scalzi is an accomplished writer, with a well established audience. This book is very much for them.
The US edition consists of a 230 page “main sequence”, and four Codas that together encompass another 84 pages. Given that I did not flick ahead at any stage while reading, I found this to be a bit confusing. The story certainly felt like it was finishing, and yet plenty of pages remained.
Confusion quickly turned in to satisfaction, as I found the Codas to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the book. They served to reveal a number of subthemes that while present in the main story, had not had a lot of airtime, and wrap up various subplots in a satisfactory fashion.
They also widened the perspective of the story (in particular giving a female point of view that up until then had been somewhat lacking) – and gave it some added gravitas.
Whether or not you think this was required or not will depend on the type of reader you are. But for me this worked. It shifted my view of Redshirts from a “read once, enjoy once” book, to a “maybe sit down and write a review” kind of book.
Now, one of the first things I realised when I came to write this review was that there was not a lot I could say about the main sequence of the story without major spoilers. If you have seen classic Star Trek, especially the more budget constrained later episodes, then you know the setting. As you can probably guess from the title of the book, the stories’ protagonists are not particularly exalted members of the crew – and as such they face some pretty unique challenges staying alive. Their struggle to do so pretty much defines the book, and to a certain extent the characters themselves. None of the characters are particularly complex – but they don’t really need to be in order for the story to work.
That’s pretty much all I can say without spoiling the story. I enjoyed Redshirts. I suspect if I was more of a Star Trek nerd I would have enjoyed it even more.
For more information on John Scalzi and his writing, see his site, here.
About the Reviewer:
Andrew Robins is a long time reader – and sometime reviewer – of science fiction, fantasy and history. People pay him to test stuff, mainly radios – which most of the time is more fun than it has any right to be. Any and all views expressed in this review are entirely his own.
To read Andrew’s review of Kim Stanley Robinson’s “2312”, click here.