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Review: Redshirts

July 14, 2012
tags: ,

by John Scalzi

This is definitely one of the oddest books that I’ve read in a while.  I first heard about it when Wil Wheaton posted something about it.  The book is dedicated to him (and a couple of other people). [scratching head] It is odd enough that I’m rather confounded on how to review it without giving away a LOT of spoilers and without reiterating the book cover.

It is a tale of an ensign newly assigned to a ship.  Not just any ship by the flagship of the Universal Union.  Not long after coming aboard, the ensign and his new friends (also new to the ship) start experiencing weirdness.  Things happening in ways that physics say they can’t.  Low ranking crew members die on every away mission that they take with the bridge crew.   A bridge officer that goes on away missions when he is only an astrogator and repeatedly getting badly injured only to be perfectly healed a week later.  A mysterious box that figures out what ever necessary and just in the nick of time.  An unkempt figure helps them figure out what is going on and what to do about it.

Really the tale is something straight out of a bad television show, which is pretty much the point.  But I thought those shows were stupid as a kid so I’m not sure why I thought I’d enjoy a book of the same type…  Oh yeah, I read it because Wil recommended it.   (Yeah I was a Next Gener…so sue me.) I think I would have enjoyed it more if had been actually humorous (as in laugh out loud funny) rather than ironic (badly ironic…ironicly bad?).  Heck the best thing about the book was the Codas which gave me hope that the author is actually a good one with just a wonky idea.   Not saying that the book is bad, just…strange.  It seems to be missing something…depth, humor, subtlety, [throws up hands] I don’t know…something!

Any way…I’ll be looking to trade this book or resell it.  I don’t see me reading it again  though it was worth reading for the Codas alone.  For what it is worth, I could have walked away from the book and never finished it or waited a while before doing so…always a bad sign in my experience.   I pushed through in an attempt to figure out why it has such great reviews.  I may be in the minority though as it seems to be doing very well.  (It debuted at #15 on New York Times hardcover best seller list)

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