25 January 2013

Redshirts - John Scalzi

The BlurbEnsign 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 was my first Scalzi book ever. I've been reading his blog, whatever since well, forever and twitterstalking him for a good few years as well. He's a funny guy and his blog is probably the best one out there.
I do not know why it took me this long to pick up a Scalzi book. I really should have done so sooner. I've been keeping my eye on Redshirts since I've heard about it and I've read good and bad  reviews for it. The worst thing people seem to have to say about it all is that it's badly written Star Trek Fan Fiction. I wholeheartedly disagree with this.
Yes, the book is heavily influenced by Star Trek. Well, mainly influenced by it. By the poor, nameless Redshirts who gets mauled and killed so that Kirk and Spock and the rest can escape. By the shaky science and huge gaping plotholes that are present. Those poor bastards no one ever really thought about or mourned. They are the focus of this book.
Scalzi is one hell of a writer. The comedy he can inject into his scenes are sublime. The brilliant turn of phrase, the startled response and quick wit are all there to be read and enjoyed by the bucketful. I do not want to spoil the book for anyone, so go and read it. I will say it's not straight up sci-fi, it's more than that. The book isn't perfect and that's ok. Some parts drag a bit and are a bit vague.  The solutions to some impossible problems are hilariously handled and it makes me laugh even now thinking about the Box. 
If you liked Star Trek, please read this. If you like a laugh, read it as well. It's that good. You'll laugh at least ten times through this book and that alone makes it worth the price.

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