Homer's Travels: Book: John Scalzi's "Redshirts"

Monday, February 02, 2015

Book: John Scalzi's "Redshirts"

When I saw the title of my latest read, John Scalzi's "Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas" my mind went straight to Star Trek.  Turns out that was Scalzi's intention.

In Star Trek, Redshirts are extras, usually security personnel, who inevitably die during the episode.  Scalzi took this Star Trek trope and took it to the next level.

The book takes place in the Intrepid, the flagship of the Universal Union.  The protagonist, after being transferred onto the Intrepid, notices how things on the ship are a bit ... off.  Personnel avoid the bridge officers.  Those who don't often end up dead.  After experiencing things first hand he tries to find out what really is going on.

The twist in the book is not an original story.  I've seen it done in a couple different Star Trek shows, novellas, and short stories.  Scalzi himself points out a few real world examples himself and Star Trek is actually mentioned by the book's characters.  He does take the idea a bit farther than others and end the end it was an interesting read.

I almost didn't read the Codas at the end of the book.  At first they didn't seem to belong to the narrative but I did read them and they did add quite a bit to the ending of the novel.

I gave this book four out of five stars on Goodreads.  The familiarity of the storey twist brought it down for me but I really enjoyed the book never the less especially the parts that drifted slightly towards Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy type weirdness.

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