Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:
(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces
(2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations
(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives. – Goodreads Synopsis
Redshirts is, for the most part, absolutely hilarious. Right from the opening pages, John Scalzi’s writing has you snickering and leaning back in your seat to enjoy the read. This completely unsubtle poke at the ridiculousness of everyone’s favorite science fiction TV show will entertain you for hours, and the fourth wall breaking is perfectly done for the first 80 percent of the book. There are some fantastic passages within it, like:
“That was your plan?” Dahl said a second later. “Hoping he’d pause in recognition before he shot you?”
“In retrospect, the plan has significant logistical issues,” Finn admitted. “On the other hand, it worked. You can’t argue with success.”
“Sure you can,” Dahl said, “when it’s based on stupidity.” – John Scalzi, Redshirts
Andrew Dahl is THE character you always wanted to see on Star Trek. The one that has a hefty dose of common sense and can actually go “Hey….wait a second. Something’s not right here.” The adventure that the crew embarks on is utterly ridiculous and completely perfect. There’s even a few rare moments where you get a genuine case of the feels. Moves on fairly quickly, mind you, but it’s definitely there.
Scalzi pulls this great one page chapter off that has you wanting to beat him over the head for being a toe-rag, then kiss him for being brilliant. It was absolutely delightful, and he should have ended the book right there. Right there would have been the PERFECT ending. but then he goes into this Coda thing, from the viewpoint of someone of importance (trying not to spoil it) and… I couldn’t even finish it. It went from amusing to overdone and boring ridiculously quick. Sigh. You know how a little kid tells you a joke, and you laugh, so he tells you it again? and again? and…again? That’s the Coda. It was surprisingly hilarious, and then just that quick it was annoying.
Overall, it’s a book that’s quite hard to rate. I mean most of it had me outright cackling and admiring the heck out of the man’s talent. The last 20 percent? Mehhhhh. So I guess I split the difference and give Redshirts a 3 Coolthulhu rating. I just can’t ignore that tanking at the end, regardless of the greatness that came before it.