Title: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas
Author: John Scalzi
Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
Length: 7h 41m
Publisher: Tor Books
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: 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, with the chance to serve on "Away Missions" alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs.
Then Andrew stumbles on information that 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.
Let me start by saying that I was never a fan of the original Star Trek. But I loved me some Star Trek: TNG. (Ed. note: So it’s quite fitting that while Wil Wheaton narrates all of Scalzi’s audiobooks, that he especially narrated this one.) This book is an homage to the Red Shirt trope – the idea that low ranked crew members (easily recognized by their uniforms with red shirts) would invariably be put into mortal danger and almost always die in each episode of the show.
It was incredible. And cheesy in moments. But how could it not be? It’s part parody to a classic 60’s science fiction show that was often cheesy as hell.
I have never listened to an audiobook this quickly. Generally speaking, audiobooks are for in the car only. But this one? Nope. I’d find myself coming home in the evenings and I just had to know what was going on. So I’d be sitting in my living room with my dog staring at me because nothing was going on except an audiobook playing from my phone. Nice, right?
Scalzi was absolutely brilliant. And then at the end he breaks down the fourth wall and… well I won’t say any more than that. You just have to read it yourself.
And even if you don’t like Star Trek, I think you’ll like this book. Like I said – I never liked the original. But I appreciate the humor behind the trope and what Scalzi was doing with this book. And the story he wrote is one worth reading. I found myself completely and totally invested in the characters as they tried to figure out why things seemed so odd on board the Intrepid.
You’ve got Andy Dahl – seminary student from an alien religion turned starship crewman (to clarify, Andy’s not an alien). There’s also Jenkins, a man who now lives “off the grid” within the cargo tunnels of the Intrepid. The rest of the crew (Finn, Hester, Duvall, and Hanson) are various and sundry folks who are newly assigned to the ship as Dahl is. Together they take on their own mission to find out what the hell is going on.
And the geek girl in me loved every minute of it.