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Oct 03

Book Review: Redshirts

RedshirtsRedshirts by John Scalzi

The first three chapters of this book were available as a preview on Scalzi’s blog, and after I read them, I kept thinking about the story and wondering where it was going to go. Finally picked up a copy and finished out the story.

It’s almost like there are four different stories in this book. The first is a bizarre, hilarious somewhat Sci-Fi story that’s so un-scientific that you have to basically shrug and tell yourself “magic.” I was hoping that the answer to why they all kept dying was something creative and weird. The truth felt kind of obvious, while also being contrived and implausible, but it was obvious, contrived and implausible in keeping with the Star Trek spinoff theme, so that’s forgiveable. I kept confusing the characters with one another, partly because they used the first and last names interchangeably, and partly because they all had more or less the same voice. I enjoyed the banter with one another. By the time the main story ended, I felt like I’d gotten my money’s worth, so to speak. Fun, ridiciulous romp through Star Trek spinoff land.

But at the end of the main story, a good 20% of the pages remained. Codas? How unusual. The first coda deals with writer’s block, and fear, and is partly written (amusingly enough) in screenplay format. It basically deals with some of the fallout of the ridiculous plot, and makes it pertinent. Ditto for the second and third codas, which are written in second and third person.

The codas give depth to the main story. The main story says “Ridiculous crazy impossible plot!” and the codas say “What if this really happened? How would it affect the characters?” In a bizarre, meta sort of way, it takes a story about extras who have their own backstory and personalities, and creates codas that are continuations of the stories of extras (in the first story) who have their own richer lives. Like an M.C. Escher picture.

So, I recommend this for Star Trek fans, and Scalzi fans. An enjoyable story with a lot of silliness tempered by some serious notes afterwards.

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