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Redshirts

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Member Reviews

Redshirts by John Scalzi has been a favorite of mine for a while. I loved the chance to review it again for Netgalley. If you haven't read Scalzi's work yet and want a good place to get started on him, and don't mind a little irreverent humor at Star Trek, then this is the book for you.
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Excellent and unique novel that at first appears to be a  standard poorly written sci-fi pulp novel. Appearances are describing. This book take some wild twists and turns. From a routine space novel it unwinds into a thought provoking romp.  Fun and quick paced it is a fast enjoyable book to read.
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I am very late to this Scalzi party, clearly. 

I remember when Redshirts first came out and a lot of discussion about it. But although I'd seen all the Star Trek movies to that point, I'd never watched any of the tv, and I didn't feel that much affinity for the show - and given all the talk was of this book being a riff on that, I didn't feel compelled to read it. 

Now, though, I have watched all of Voyager; and all of Discovery and Picard to date; and even, perhaps most relevantly, most of Lower Decks. So really, for me, this is the right time to read this book. 

I also, at the original publication, had read zero Scalzi. I know, this is kind of amazing for someone so into the genre. But he just never really came across my radar. And then I finally came across the Interdependency trilogy, and gave it ago, and fell very heavily in love with those books. So, now I can say that I like what I've read of his work. Again, this timing was good for me. 

So, what of Redshirts? Having read Mary Robinette Kowal's introduction, I was expecting this to be hilarious. And... it wasn't. At least, not for me. That is, there were some funny bits, mostly in dealing with expectations and stereotypes, sometimes in the language, and such things. But I didn't laugh out loud. So in that way I was a bit disappointed. As a narrative, though, it really is very clever and very well done; as Kowal also said, it takes an idea at the start - the lowly types of Star Trek etc who never get much screen time - and develops them into characters, and THEN completely turns what you're expecting not only on its head, but sideways and inside out and into configurations I couldn't imagine. So all of that was surprising, intriguing, and enjoyable. I will admit that the very end I found ... not disappointing, exactly, but perhaps bewildering? That is, I didn't feel like it added much, if anything, so I was left feeling blinking and a bit confused - there was a lack of resolution, because too much had been added on (perhaps this is the complaint about the "too many endings" of Return of the King...). 

Is this a fun book to read? yes. Did I actually have to watch a lot of Star Trek to enjoy it? No; but I think a bit of knowledge does deepen the appreciation of what Scalzi is doing. Does my slight disappointment mean I'll never read another Scalzi? Oh heck no. I don't think he'll ever be a "must buy now" author for me, but I will always be keeping an eye out for his work.
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This is my first time reading this book, and I feel I’ve been missing out! I picked it solely because of the title and hoped that it would be everything my Star Trek-loving heart desired. I wasn’t disappointed as this was entertaining, funny, and a nice ode to  TV science fiction.
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Did I request this book just as an excuse to re-read it? Yes. This book is everything Scalzi is and it's fun, clever, geeky ^4. Honestly Scalzi is the President of the Nerds, and it's for good reason - his writing is generally a fun kind of clever romp but he's polarizing for a reason.

It's pretty meta as a book, and you kind of have to have the right mindset to just go along for the ride. I first read this in 2012ish, and I remember absolutely loving it. Did I love it as much this time? Honestly not quite, but what I did love is that it's just a fun book to read, and it holds up really well after a decade.
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I wanted to like this.  I love Star Trek and a POV from the redshirts should be hysterical.  But while this can occasionally be funny, it's not clever.  The characters literally say that they're in a parody of Star Trek.  This reads as a smarmy, prolonged aside on a blog.  Trust your audience!  We don't need handheld through the redshirt tropes.  Stop mugging and tell your story--we can follow you without the constant "LOOK AT HOW FUNNY AND FOURTH WALL-Y I AM!"  

Honestly, redshirts deserve better.
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