Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

April 30, 2014 2014, B+, book rating, Reading Challenges, reviews 6

redshirtsRed Shirts
by John Scalzi
Series: None
Genre: Science Fiction, space opera
Published by Tor, 2012
E-book, Purchased
318 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: 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 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.

“But define ‘completely ridiculous shit,'” Duvall said. “Does space travel count? Contact with alien races? Does quantum physics count? Because I don’t understand that crap at all. As far as I’m concerned, quantum physics could have been written by a hack.”


“Tell me, Maia: Have you ever met someone who you know so completely, so exactly and so perfectly that it’s like the two of you share the same body, thoughts and desires? And had that feeling compounded by the knowledge that how you feel about them is exactly how they feel about you, right down to the very last atom of your being? Have you?”

“Not really,” Duvall said.

“I pity you,” he said…

What works for me:

  • This was a fun book to read.
  • Very entertaining.
  • Such a funny premise (not for the characters, of course, who keep getting killed off).
  • Redshirts takes the standard science fiction story about soldiers aboard a spaceship and turns it into a farce. Very entertaining.
  • Questions about reality and time travel. What’s real and what isn’t. Made my head hurt how that could work!

What doesn’t work:

  • It all works for me.

My thoughts:

Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for best novel. I really enjoyed reading this and it was a very fast read. It’s the second book by John Scalzi I’ve read (Old Man’s War was first) and he is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.



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