By: John Scalzi
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, and (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.
This book has been on my need-in-my-life-asap ever since I heard of it. As a big sci-fi fan (okay, I started as a Trekkie), I always wondered about those redshirts that went on the away missions and never came back. I was so happy when this book finally came out in paperback a few weeks ago (decided to wait for it on paperback) =D Contains some spoilers ahead!
What can I say about this novel? It was as amazing as I thought it would be–and more. Scalzi does such an amazing job in bringing the nature of the redshirts’ line of work to life in this novel. The prologue alone was what prompted me to wait and check out this book in paperback as opposed to buying it for my Kobo. I thought it was pretty hilarious how everyone was evading the command officers–and had a pretty hi-tech system in place to know when one of the senior officers were around.
I quickly warmed to Andy Dahl and his friends and colleagues; they may be at the bottom of the chain if you look at the case of the Intrepid from the senior officers down but in this book they are centre stage, each with their own role in the team and their share of hilarious dialogue. I’m not one who laughs out loud quite easily while reading or watching something but the humour in this book was right up my alley and I found myself chuckling in amusement for a good chunk of the novel (okay, so I still don’t laugh out loud but chuckling’s a very good sign coming from me!)
But what’s pleasantly surprising about this novel is that there is so much more going on in this novel than I expected. There’s a fantastic development during Dahl & co’s search in figuring out what the heck is wrong with the Intrepid that I honestly did not see coming and that I think is just absolutely brilliant. I thought that it was so good I don’t want to even allude to it any further–much as I want to gush more about some of the more introspective themes that emerged from that one development.
Overall, Redshirts is a hilarious and intriguing read. I meant to pace myself reading this but I could not put it down until I had read the last page. I cannot recommend it enough, definitely worth checking out if you’re a science fiction fan, someone who grew up watching sci-fi shows on television or something looking for a fun but also engaging read.
Edit: Forgot to add, this was my first John Scalzi book and I’m looking forward to the other books he’s written! =)