Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi


Since I’m working on a book about the global food economy, my mind is so full of food books it has indigestion.

I’m on a tight deadline so I really needed an excuse to read something else. The release of John Scalzi’s new book Redshirts was that excuse for two reasons: 1) John is a friend (and my favorite blogger) who lives near my childhood home in Ohio. 2) His books are always action packed and hilarious.

Redshirts was like Gas-Ex to my farting brain. (That’s a compliment.)

If you’ve ever watched Star Trek you know that a dude wearing a red shirt is going to die on every away team. But as John points out, if you made it on the Enterprise, you must not be some slouch. He tells the story of the doomed redshirts as they compare notes and try to figure out just why it is that they are always dying while the captain, first officer, and chief medical officer always live to explore the universe another day.

This book is more meta than a butt with a tattoo of a butt with a tattoo of a butt and so on. It’s not meta in a bad way, but meta in a fun and hilarious away.

I’ve never read a book in which I more expected the characters to knock on my front door at any moment. It’s not just the characters felt that real, it’s that the laws of the Redshirts universe are that mind altering.

One of the reasons I love John’s writing is that it seems to be 90% easy-flowing dialog. He avoids flowery descriptions or telling you what his characters are like. Instead, the characters bump into one another and their surroundings and we see how they act, feel, and die horrible deaths by man-eating worms.

I’m not a Trekkie by any means, but I’ve watched my fair share of the original Star Trek and The Next Generation episodes, and watched at least half of the movies. Some familiarity with Star Trek is required to get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of Redshirts.

If you don’t know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars, this book isn’t for you. I don’t think this will limit the Redshirts audience that much. In fact, Redshirts is already on the New York Times Bestsellers list. (Congrats, John!)

For me, Redshirts was a timely reminder that reading should be fun. Redshirts was more fun than a meta butt tattoo and I highly recommend that you read it.

To buy Redshirts: Indiebound / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s

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As a long-time science fiction fan and watcher of the first Star Trek series *when it originally ran*, and as a Scalzi lurker, and *especially* since you recommended it, I’ll be getting this one. : – )

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