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Book Review: Redshirts

by Brian Burgoyne, Reviewer


Stop me if you’ve heard this one…Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Ensign Ricky beam down to the planet; guess who’s not coming back.

Redshirts.  The most made fun of characters from Star Trek TOS.  A character inserted into an episode for the sole purpose of adding drama to an episode…by dying in a rather horrific and usually predictable manner.  Gene Rodenberry once stated that 94 crew died in the course of the series.  With 80 episodes produced, that makes the Redshirts the most pitied characters in science fiction.

Author John Scalzi (Old Man’s War) decided to make these lowly expendables the heroes of his latest novel.  Ensign Andrew Dahl of the Universal Union (an organization that is strangely familiar) has just been assigned to its flagship, the Intrepid.  A premier posting for a young officer, right?  Sure!  But why does everyone make themselves scarce when it’s time for an away mission?  Why do they find solutions exactly 10 minutes before something horrible happens…and no one understands how?  Moreover, why are all of Dahl’s friends dying in terribly stupid accidents?

I thought Scalzi did a great job poking fun at the “Redshirt Phenomenon.”  He uses his usual fine sense of humor to describe what must go on in the mind of one of these expendables. The joke has been around for years, but Scalzi’s take on the concept is original.   He dares to ask the question, “what would happen if someone actually noticed what was going on?”    The story moves along at such a good  pace, I couldn’t put it down.  You don’t have to be a Trekkie to enjoy the book.  Just keep an open mind and let the book take you where no one has gone before (sorry, couldn’t resist).

I have to say, the only problem I had with the book was the price.  With a list price of 25 dollars for 320 pages, it does strain the wallet a bit.  Even the Kindle price was nearly 12 dollars.  If you’re flush with cash, I recommend buying it now.  If not, well, borrow it.  Yeah, it’s that good.

I give Redshirts 5 out of 5 hilarious deaths.

Rating: ★★★★★

About Brian Burgoyne

Brian is a guy who appreciates all kinds of geekiness. He currently lives in South Korea and attempts to teach English on a regular basis.

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