Redshirts – John Scalzi


Think of a wold close to that of the classic Star Trek universe.

Think of a world with certain recurring themes:

  1. Away Missions are dangerous. Every single one becomes a deadly encounter with an alien force or two.
  2. The captain, the chief science officer, and the (battered, bruised, but resilient) Lieutenant Kerensky, always survive.
  3. There’s always at least one lowly crew member – a ‘redshirt’ – who dies.

Now imagine you are actually in that world. You are an ensign, newly assigned to a spaceship where these themes are a reality. What the hell do you do?

This strange and intriguing concept is the platform for the author to boldly go where, er, no author has gone before. Whatever I was expecting was not what I got. It is a strange, sometimes challenging, and often amusing novel. There are some cultural references (like Star Trek) that I connected with, and this probably enhanced my enjoyment. If you are not a fan of ST, you might be disappointed. However, if you can put your prejudice aside, you might find you enjoy the ride. For Scalzi’s book does indeed go places, and is a pretty good page turner.

Looking back, I realize how many serious themes go through this combination of comedy, parody, and fantasy. You may think differently about the world around you after reading this. That’s as much as I can say for fear of spoiling your enjoyment. And I think you will enjoy it. It’s not perfect, but it’s a cracking attempt at something new. It’s a good standalone science fiction novel, well worthy of your attention.