Review of Redshirts, by John Scalzi


by John Scalzi

Tom Doherty Associates Books (Tor), New York, 2012. 317 pages.

I got this book at ALA Annual Conference a couple years ago, and finally got to read it when on vacation. (That’s when I finally get my non-library books read.) The premise is delightful: You know how, in Star Trek, if a low-ranking officer in a red shirt goes on an Away Mission, he’s sure to die before the commercial break? What if the Redshirts on a ship noticed this trend and tried to fight it?

Mind you, the details of how this works are pretty sketchy. Something about parallel universes, and they end up knowing they’re fictional characters. But the physics in the fictional show being mocked are terribly sketchy, too, so it’s definitely fair, in a mixed-up sort of way.

I’m usually not crazy about meta-fiction. But this book reminds me of the movie Galaxy Quest — a vehicle for poking fun at some science fiction tropes, while telling a good story as well. And the author does add a human element to his story and adds some lovely codas to the main story.

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Source: This review is based on my own copy, gotten at ALA Annual Conference.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

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