“Redshirts” by John Scalzi

4 stars

When I saw that this book was co-dedicated to Wil Wheaton, I pretty much knew right away that I was going to like it. This is a huge spoof on the type of show Star Trek: The Original Series was. A low budget sci-fi TV show, where the captain and chief officers always miraculously survive attacks and away missions and the no-name extras (in red shirts) always end up dying. A show where science and physics are fudged to make the scene “work” on a regular basis. The kind of TV that’s so bad, it’s kind of good.

This focuses on a small group of people who are transferred to a big-name starship and they figure out things are totally cray-cray and not what they seem. It gets all philosophical and… well, everyone else is using this word in their review, so I guess I will too. It gets all “meta.”

Every time I heard Captain Abernathy and Science Officer Q’eeng speak, all I could hear was William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. There were several times I laughed out loud and I just couldn’t stop reading. Kerensky was great too as the hapless pilot who always gets hurt on every mission, but somehow always survives. He ends up having a significant role. I really liked this.

HOWEVER, the book “ends” really abruptly and then goes into a 3-part “coda,” told by the POV of 3 minor characters. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the book and seems weirdly out of place. It ruined the pacing and was rambling and completely unnecessary, in my view. I ended up skipping most of it. So my review is for the first 225 pages (approximately). I think the whole thing should have ended there and it would have been fine as a short book. The codas felt like padding and weird to me, so I deducted a star for that.

I’m a total Star Trek geek and it does help to have a basic understanding of the series, but it’s not necessary. I’m so glad I finally read this! 🙂

Review also found at Goodreads.

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