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Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas Paperback – January 15, 2013
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“John Scalzi sets his imagination to STUN and scores a direct hit. Read on and prosper.” ―Joe Hill, New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box
“I can honestly say I can't think of another book that ever made me laugh this much. Ever.” ―Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind
“Scalzi takes apart the whole Star Trek universe and puts it back together far more plausibly--and a lot funnier too.” ―Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians
“A real joy to read… It's hard to imagine a reader who wouldn't enjoy this one.” ―Booklist, starred review
About the Author
JOHN SCALZI is the author of several SF novels including the bestselling Old Man's War and its sequels and the New York Times bestseller Fuzzy Nation. A winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Scalzi won the Hugo Award for Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, a collection of essays from his wildly popular blog The Whatever. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter.
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Top customer reviews
*Full of surpirses—not all welcome.
There WAS stuff I liked about this book, but ultimately I think it's suffered from improper billing, both public and artistic. I first heard of this book as a kind of meta-narrative, of Star Trek redshirts figuring out their expendable nature and trying to change their narrative around that. And yes, the book works on that level, to an extent, but just when I grew weary of the codas at the end, and the last few chapters in general, Scalzi pulled a fast one and made this book ultimately about choice and fate, something almost Pirandello-like, though a good majority of the book seems to put aside such considerations for a lot of expositional dialogue and occasional wit, which is what wore me down in the first place.
Redshirts has some worthwhile ideas in it, but the execution suffers the reader to put up with a lot to get to the juicy bits.
However, the final twist on that twist reframed the entire story and made me really think back on what I had just read. Scalzi goes to great pains to make sure you know the Narrative of the Intrepid is a cobbled together wreck of tropes and one-dimensional characters that pays as much respect to the laws of physics and common sense as it pays to its crew. Maybe I'm just not very observant but that misdirection kept me totally on board with the actual story taking place behind the scenes. But, then one conversation adding the final meta level brought into sharp relief that this book was actually the exact illogical, contrived nonsense it happily steps on to prop itself up.
But then it gets worse.
The addition of the Codas as the end, specifically First and Third Person, managed to sour me even more on a story that I should have, and wanted to enjoy, but it would not let me.
First Person continues to stomp on and belittle bad science-fiction writers, excuse me, writers of bad science-fiction through that very same lense. It's totally fine to be a weird meta commentary on genre fiction, I'm fine with cliche from time to time as long as it's entertaining, and taking down bad storytelling is a noble pursuit. It's the combination of all of these that rub me the wrong way. It feels like Scalzi wrote himself into a corner while trying to lampoon poor science fiction and instead of retooling his own story to make any sense, he just leaned into it. But the sheer audacity to admit that your meta commentary is the very thing it hates, and then continue on in an epilogue to twist the knife and repeatedly insult the writer was just petty and frankly insulting to the reader as well.
Then Third Person wedges in an unearned, unneeded, out of complete left-field sappy love story that was the one cliche left on the checklist that hadn't been hit yet.
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