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Tales from the Bargain Bin

DrMM's blog about books, the universe and everything (actually, just books). I currently read mostly YA/MG fantasy, although the only thing I won't read is horror.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Redshirts - John Scalzi

Redshirts is the first book I’ve read by John Scalzi. In fact, it’s the first SF/Fantasy book for adults that I’ve read in a very long time. For various reasons, I tend to stick with YA for my SF/Fantasy reads. However, when I heard about the premise of Redshirts, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun.


It was.


That does not mean I think it is the most brilliant book ever. While Redshirts was a fun, entertaining read that I thoroughly enjoyed, it was very light on substance. There was little in the way of character development and the plot shared the flaws of every single Star Trek episode, in that a miraculous and unrealistic solution was found at the last possible minute that left everyone safe and (mostly) happy.


While I’m sure this was intentional, since so much of Redshirts is a parody of this habit in Star Trek, it left me feeling unsatisfied. The only part of Redshirts that had any depth to it were the codas, but those weren’t a main part of the story.


Redshirts is also an idea that’s been done before (and I don’t just mean the concept of the redshirts who are doomed to die).  I don’t know that it’s been done professionally before, but having an outside agent writing the story is one that is very common in fanfic. In fact, I even remember reading a story like that in a writing class I took in college more than ten years ago. If I remember correctly, my review wasn’t very kind to that classmate, although Redshirts is a MUCH better story than the one my classmate came up with.


And if you’re thinking that this review so far doesn’t make it seem like I liked Redshirts, that’s not true.


I loved Redshirts. Redshirts is a brilliant parody of Star Trek, although I don’t think it’s quite as good as Galaxy Quest. It’s certainly the best written parody of Star Trek I’ve seen (and I’ve read quite a few parodies on the internet). I adored the fact that it’s the redshirts who are the ones that need to find a solution rather than any of the major characters on the ship.


That doesn’t mean I can’t see flaws. I may think that they’re intentional, since Scalzi was writing a parody and not a deep exploration of the meaning of life, the universe and everything, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Intentional flaws are still flaws.


My ultimate opinion: Redshirts is fluff. It’s a fun story, but light on substance.