Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

June 8, 2020

Redshirts by John Scalzi is a novel which parodies the Star Trek TV show in which stock characters, often wearing red shirts, dies soon after being introduced. The novel won the RT Reviewers Choice Award for 2012, the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, and the Geffen Award for Best Translated Science Fiction Novel.

  • 320 pages
  • Publisher:
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765316994

Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi
My rat­ing for Redshirts4
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Redshirts by John Scalzi is a fun and clever book. I didn’t know what to expect from this book, I enjoyed Star Trek as a kid, and loved the movies (even the hockey first one), but I wasn’t such a big fan as to read the books.

What I discovered was a character driven book, dealing with existential issues, as well as the value of life. We are all the heroes of our own stories, even if you happen to be an extra in the narrative. The story makes a case in point that the life of a side character in the overall narrative is not any less significant than that of the hero. The extra is the hero in another story, usually their own.

The storyline explores the occurrences killing off characters simply to get cheap thrills, or to demonstrate the dangers to the main characters. I thought the story was well written and crafted very well. The characters are interesting, and the winks and nodes in the fictional TV show to Star Trek were very good.

The search for meaning is in all of us. Some people live every day in search for meaning to their lives, some of us have already found, or at least think we did, the meaning and reasons for living. At its heart, this is what this book is, people who found out their sole purpose is to die, for the simple reason that the person who is writing about them is simply lazy.

The book ends with three codas, short stories about some side characters introduced in the book. I enjoyed one of them, but the other two seemed to be just an exercise the author put himself through and, for me at least, didn’t add anything to the story and were baffling.

Much like the movie Galaxy Quest, this is a great Star Trek novel without actually having Star Trek in it. The author managed to take an old gag, wearing a red shirt makes you disposable, and turned it into a funny, interesting, and thoughtful concept.

Andrew Dahl, an expert in alien religions and xenobiology gets assigned to the spaceship Intrepid along with four other new ensigns. The Intrepid is known for its unusual high rate of casualties among low ranking crew members.

After almost dying several times, Dahl meets Jenkins, who has an insane theory – their timeline and reality are being influenced by a TV show, and a bad one at that. This is why people’s free will seem to abandon them, or when officers seem to make incompetent choices. According to Jenkins this moves the narrative along.

Dahl and the ensigns kidnap an officer, a member of the show which cannot be killed, as an insurance policy, and travel back in time to influence the show’s writers to stop messing with their “fictional” lives.

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book from the eBook Club.
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