When the crew of the Intrepid realise the high rate of casualties they do whatever they can to avoid deadly away missions.
For many years choice of reading material, other than comics, has been almost exclusively made up of non-fiction. It’s only in recent times that I’ve delved into novels immersing myself in the works of Ernest Cline, Cory Doctorow and the like. John Scalzi, falls very much into the same ilk. When John mentioned Redshirts in our recent podcast Betamax & Laserdisc my interest was piqued.
Anyone that’s seen Star Trek will be familiar with a common theme. Kirk, Spock et al head off to a remote planet, encounter a hostile force and the guy you’ve never seen before in a red shirt gets killed, we know nothing about him, he has no back story so we just accept it without any real sense of emotion.
Not a direct parody but certainly alluding to the more humorous elements of Star Trek Scalzi has cleverly built an engaging story around the lower ranking members of crew aboard the flagship of the ‘Universal Union’, the Intrepid. Andy Dahl is assigned to the Intrepid as an ensign within the xenobiology department. He soon discovers that something is amiss when his crew-mates exhibit an uncanny knack for evading superior officers. Regular stock-takes and coffee breaks always coincide with the appearance of an officer seeking out crew for an away mission. Soon enough Dahl puts two and two together, away missions are dangerous for all but a few key members of the crew, the casualty rate is alarmingly high and the laws of physics go out of the window and the narrative takes hold of circumstances. Dahl and his circle of friends set about unravelling the mystery which takes them away from the Intrepid and beyond the pages of the script.
The premise alone was enough to get me smiling and throughout I found myself giggling along to this truly funny tale. The camaraderie amongst characters is natural, the dialogue isn’t what you’d expect from a Star Trek-a-like setting and the story breaks all kinds of barriers that exist within a standard novel. On occasion you have to suspend disbelief and just go with it, there are holes to be picked in the plot but if you’re looking for an easy and fun read you could do a lot worse that pick up a copy of this wonderful book.
Such has been the success of Redshirts that it has been confirmed that the book will be adapted into a television series, which, if you read the book, is pure ironic comedy.
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