Ensign 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 facts 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.
©2012 John Scalzi (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Like a previous reviewer stated this author really needs to learn another word for "said"; Yes, almost every line contains "...said" or "said...", it really does get annoying and you can almost hear the annoyance in the voice of the narrator.
The storyline is pretty good and I did enjoy it; a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, parody of Star Trek which mocks the fact that in almost every Star Trek episode you knew who was going to die as soon as the "away party" beamed down; those poor guys in red.
I've probably listened to 30 audiobooks in the last 2 and a half years. Almost all of them have been very good. I'd say this was in the top half of those.
I loved the paradox, that the characters were supposedly vulnerable because they were not the main characters of the show, but of course they're the main characters of the book so in fact a slightly different set of rules apply. As much as the idea is (as the characters know) derivative of Galaxy Quest, Last Action Hero etc, Scalzi does a great job of making it feel fresh without it getting stuck up its own arse.
The last scene, which I won't say more about, because it would spoil it.
Both actually, but it was surprisingly touching towards the end, considering how tongue in cheek the concept seems.
Really recommended. I'm not a big Trekkie or into anything particularly similar, but I think it's enough to have a passing familiarity with the tropes of the genre, which virtually everyone surely does.
I love John Scalzi. Just have to get that out there. All of his books are phenomenal, though I confess I do love his humorous standalones a tiny bit more than the Old Man's War series. I can't say enough good things about his writing.
So I guess it's no surprise that I loved Redshirts - it is certainly one of the funnier concepts he's come up with. What if a Star Trek-like TV show was not only real somewhere, but controlled by the pen of the show's writers? What if all those poor redshirts, the guys destined to die to make the audience realize the problem in any given episode was SERIOUS, were real people, who really died every time bad writing dictated?
But don't be fooled by the absurdist premise - this is an incredibly well conceived novel, with a definite punch to the stomach in emotional weight, and a brilliant resolution.
Highly recommended. And the narration by Wil Wheaton - of Star Trek Next Generation fame, no less - is spot on.
I loved this book, the concept was great, the characters, great and the performance - while not as good as Wheaton's other reads maybe - still absorbed me into the story. The codas in particular I thought came across as funny, involving and touching all at once and here was where Wheaton excelled. Much has already been made in other reviews here of the overreliance on 'he said' 'she said' 'he asked' etc and they are right, but you do eventually start to tune it out and I think this is more the fault of the editing for the audio read than against the writing or the performance as it doesn't notice as much when you read the physical copy yourself. I was surprised at how the book changes throughout. What starts as a sort of goofy idea full of nerd lore becomes a rumination on life, the soul and our place in the universe and reality. Once you get past the said issue, I'd highly recommend this to anyone, nerd and non nerd alike!
Happy, vegetarian, swimming, Spanish learning, walking, knitting, partnered man. Teacher and learner.
if it had been half as good as his previous book
wil wheaten is a great narrator but this is not his finest
john scalzi has written better novels, go and try the one about the agent to the alien, its funny
I 'm a scifi/fantasy fan, have been since I was 8, and I love audiobooks for walking the dog, traveling in the car and doing the housework.
I liked the principle most, and the inner monologues. The fact that nobody knew why they were doing what they did.
The only book other than John Scalzi's other books that this reminds me of is John Ringo's Last Centurion. Both books have soldier protagonists, both are commentary on how f-ed up the world they are living in is, and the tone and humor are similar. So are the narrators' voices.
I liked everything about the way he portrayed the characters, with the exception of Duvahl (not sure of spelling) Some narrators are able to portray female voices well, but Wheaton's female voice was indistinguishable, which is part of the flaw this book has.
I actually started crying somewhere near the end. It might have been when Dahl got skewered. Or it might have been during the epilogue when Finn lectures Nick. Actually Nick's epilogue is a pretty good part in itself.
The big flaw in this audiobook is a combination of writer and narrator. Scalzi overuses the word 'said' which _in print_ probably doesn't matter too much. He also named two of his main characters Dahl and Duvahl.
When you get lines like:
"Are you sure?" Dahl said.
"I'm sure." Duvahl said
Near the start and you can't tell which one is the female character because the narrator isn't that capable of female voices and the names are too similar to connect with the identifying information you were given...
After the first hour I'd gotten over the "said,said,said," thing, but that section near the beginning is really annoying.Still a good listen though.
A great story, but you're better of reading it. As much as I love Wil Wheaton his narration is a bit flat, and John Scalzi needs to learn some synonyms for "said" and "asked" -- the dialogue is painful to listen to as almost *every* line is followed by "[someone] said", and once you notice it it becomes impossible to ignore.
"Clever, creative, and FUN!"
What a creative and clever way to look at characters! I don't know if this started off with Scalzi saying, "Hmmm, I wonder if I can write in various points of view, and look behind the scenes of how characters tick?", or as just a random idea. Regardless - it worked! The main story was funny, poignant, and creative. The separate coda were well-linked to the main story in a very heart-felt manner. I really liked this book a lot! I am fastly becoming a huge Scalzi fan-boy! “Old Man’s War”, “Fuzzy Nation”, and not “Redshirts” – all good stuff! Oh, but, I guess amidst all this mush of Scalzi-love, I probably should point out that he does have a tendency to use the screenplay style ("he said", "she said") a bit too much! And, particularly in an audiobook, this becomes VERY obvious…and not just a little irritating! Let's just call this his "room to grow" as an author! (Maybe that's how he gets his word-count up for meeting publisher requirements???) Still, other than that one affectation, I really like the way he thinks and writes! His dialog is crisp and focused, and his characters are ALWAYS unique and enjoyable. I will definitely read/listen to more of his works!
And, as an audiobook, Wil Wheaton did an excellent job as Narrator - which makes sense that he'd be able to inflect emotion into these characters because, he himself (as Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek TNG") must have felt like his character might just as casually become just such a "Redshirt" in the early days of his TV series appearances. Wil Wheaton did a really good job of putting dynamic range into the various characters - with more vocal intonations than I'm use to from him (as an audiobook Narrator). He really got into these characters!
So, from all perspectives, this was an excellent listen!
"Not his Wheal-house"
I love Wil Wheaton reading this book read by a former actor on Star Trek is kind of amazing. His delivery of some of the deadpan and laugh out loud lines in this book is excellent.
However his total lack of character voices make some of the dialogue heavy passages really challenging to follow. You end up having to pay careful attention to the "he said she saids" at end of most of the lines. And then you're just tired of hearing the word "said."
There isn't even really a differentiation between the male characters and the one female character which can be incredibly confusing. It doesn't help that some of the character names can be similar to, so you're struggling to catch who said what.
The story itself is a fabulous farce, with really interesting philosophical implications. It was both funny and thought provoking. If you're a fan of Mr. Wheaton's you might be willing to forgive his shortcomings as a narrator, but I might still recommend the text version over the audiobook.
"Quite an enjoyable read"
It's not without its flaws but overall it was certainly worth a credit.
Laugh out loud funny at several points and it prompted me to put several of his other books on my TBR list.
If you know what a Redshirt is, then you'll probably enjoy this book.
If you're a fan of Wil Wheaton, then you'll probably enjoy this book.
If you know that you are likely to be distracted to the point of RageQuit by the overuse of a word, then I wouldn't recommend this. The only nitpicky negative critique I have about this book is that is a dialogue heavy book and the word "said" is used to the point of annoyance.
Regardless of that, it is a fun book and I enjoyed it.
""Really Funny!" She said."
Scalzi still uses 'said' for nearly every exchange of dialogue, which will drive some people really nuts. It's the elephant in the living room for this book. If you don't zero in on it, you might never notice.
Personally, I LOVED the comedy, speed, and pitch of the banter. The first five hours are a huge laugh, with some earnest drama and important life lessons sprinkled in, from first to last. The star trek references are so very classic. And the dramatic pauses and high school theater way the officers make exchanges, then automatically switch to normal speech when not on point. So funny!
This was my first book with this author, and it had me moving happily on to Android's Dream, Agent to the Stars, Fuzzy Nation, and the Old Man's War series. A great find! Fixation on the word 'said' or no.
"He said. She said. He Said. She said. They said..."
Though I have always found John Scalazi's humor and plot lines engaging his use of dialogue in this book so tedious it spoils the whole experience.
The meat and bones of what the characters have to say is fine but the connective tissue of he said's can, at best, be said to occasionally rise to the level of tedious.
The problem might not be so obvious on the printed page but as an audio book the the repetition of "He said"or "She said" as the link between almost every spoken phrase had me cringing in anticipation. If Pavlov had slapped the dog with a wet fish every time he rang the bell I imagine the effect would have been very much the same.
It's a pity, I really do like the way Scalazi thinks but I just couldn't enjoy this performance.
"Scalzi writes another winner/it's really different"
Listening to the first hour of so of "Redshirts" I was sure it was just another funny story, full of sly humor and sassy one liners that make me laugh the way "Fuzzy Nation" and "Agent to the Aliens" did. When I heard about the book on Scalzis blog and read the beginning paragraphs I was sure thats where it would go-and I'm fine with that. I love his fun novels. Everyone needs a laugh at one time or another. Except for the head banging "He Said", "She said" dialogue that Scalzi writes (which seems to drive we audiobook listeners bonkers), the start of Wil Wheatons reading of Scalzi's new novel led me to believe I'd laugh the evening away.
Then it got a bit serious. Funny, still, but serious with a strange twist that had me totally amazed at the concept. I had to rewind a chapter here and there because I was sure I'd missed something. I wasn't getting it all. As the novel got deeper into the left hand turn the plot had made, it didn't lose it's fun jauntiness but it did gather even more unexpected sober, tough thinking adding plenty of "I never thought about that before" to the plot .
Character development is ...well..odd because Scalzi has developed his main protagonists along a couple of different lines. Pathways I had never considered in many years as an SF reader and viewer (and listener even). It's good character development...we know the protagonists- we have known them for years, even decades of Star Trek and they never seem to change..but these characters are sharper, more developed and very clever when they analyze their situation aboard the Universal Union Capital Ship "Intrepid", flag ship of the galaxy. They have a captain who is completely J.T. Kirkian in attitude and language, a ships engineer, doctor...in fact all the standard characters we have gotten used to seeing-including new ensigns wearing red shirts. The ones who die on away missions.
I don't write spoilers so all this sounds vague but I want to encourage listeners to stick with the book through the irritating dialogue then listen carefully to the next few hours.
As for the Codas,I think they add to the book. I don't know how else Scalzi would have added the information..it wouldn't have fit into the body of the novel. And though it isn't really vital information it is lore that adds to the novel and incases our knowledge of the characters. Some reviewers on the Amazon site discounted the codas entirely. I think they are part of the book and it's an interesting way to insert this data into the book.
This is a book for SF lovers, Star Wars/Star Trek fans, ComicCon goers and generally those of us who grew up with Heinlein and Roddenberry, with Ray Bradbury (who passed away today at age 91) and Rod Serling, with Neil Gaiman and Isaac Asimov.
Scalzi fits in with all these guys, especially the early Robert Heinlein YA books, though theres nothing YA about "Redshirts".
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
"Disappointing, but somehow still worth a listen."
There were a few reasons I was intrigued enough to purchase this audiobook. First, I was eager to read my first John Scalzi book and see what he could do. Second, I'm a fan of Wil Wheaton as a narrator. Third, I'm a huge Star Trek fan. So, the idea of a novel based around one of the funnier/sad aspects of ST:TOS, I was excited to read this book. My intrigue quickly turned to disappointment especially once the core story's big reveal took place and the course of the 2nd half of the novel came into focus. But to Scalzi's credit, I cared enough about his characters by that point that I wanted to find out what happened to them, so I read on. After finishing the book I had to endure the three codas. Interesting as they were, Scalzi had more than used up my patience by that point with the storyline and his writing. I was surprised to find the codas were written better than the main novel itself! I look forward to reading more Scalzi novels to determine whether this is one of his lesser works or if he really is this below-average a writer. Regardless, he should fire his editor who for some unknown reason allowed a novel to be published with a nearly endless stream of "he said" and "she said" on every page. You can even hear Wheaton begin to sigh at points after reciting "he said" nearly a dozen times over the course of 30 seconds. Wheaton continues to impress me with his narration skills, bringing life to a group of characters and making the story enjoyable enough for me to stick around. Fans of ST:TOS should enjoy the references as well as the take on the meaningless deaths of so many characters, but I for one think Scalzi could have approached the same idea in a different way with more success. Regardless, the characters are worth the time, if for no other reason than to hear futuristic space explorers/warriors cursing like modern-day truckers.
"He said, she said"
It starts out decently and the concept is quite clever and funny, but the dialogue is doing my head in. The book has these pockets of time where the main characters stand around discussing events in an effort for us and them to understand them. Fair enough really, but the way it is presented is driving me spare.
Blabla – X said
Blala – Y said
Blalabla – Z said
I just can’t take it. Especially not in audio format.
"The real Star Trek"
I've watched all the t.v. shows and all the movies, but you got to believe this is the real Star Trek. This is from the view of those thousands of crew members that do the actual work, that take the non-sensible orders from the higher ups and make the ship work.
John Scalzi is the funniest writer out there and with Wil Wheaton they are the best duo to listen to. The book starts out with a sort of grunts by the water cooler feel. The new guy treatment is spot on. So even those who are not sci-fi fans will like the first three hours. The story does take a weirder then I prefer turn and I wish JS could have came up with a better explanation. The story actually ends around five hours and then you get the not so funny Coda's. Coda one is interesting, but goes on too long. Coda one also gets a little nasty with the writers of the original Star Trek. As a Star Trek fan I enjoyed laughing at myself and the show during the story. J.S. seemed to use coda one to say, hey if you were to stupid to figure it out, I think the Star Trek writers were lazy or stupid. Scalzi did not do his homework or he would have known that Gene Roddenberry set out to make a non-violent show. During the pilot, cowboys were the big thing and the network wanted blood or they were not going to air the show. The results were Redshirts getting killed. Coda two gives a serious message, but no answers. Telling someone that can't figure out what to do in life, that they need to get there shit together, does not help. Coda three was sweet and warm.
I gave this five stars and it was the best book I have read this year so far and Wheaton's performance makes listening to it better then reading it. I do believe it would have been even better without the coda's.
"Everything I like in one book."
Time travel. Parallel dimensions. Space ships. Battles with explosions on decks six through 12. Love. Humor. Characters I care about when they die. Characters I care about when they come back to life. And a Wil Wheaton Narration. More. I must have more!
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