Book Review: John Scalzi’s Redshirts

Posted May 13, 2014 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: John Scalzi’s Redshirts


in Hardcover edition on June 5, 2012 and has 320 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon., Barnes & NobleKobo.

A science fiction parody about Star Trek…and be sure to learn the lesson from this! Avoid the Narrative!!

My Take

It starts off a bit lame with a ship’s crew and its leaders actually on an away mission. It’s just so dorky, and you start questioning why a captain of the ship would put himself in danger? Why wouldn’t the mission briefing be more complete? And it all starts to make sense when Dahl and company run into Jenkins.

It does ratchet pretty quickly into too-funny-for-words territory, and Scalzi makes you want to know the big secret behind the silliness in ship operations. If you’re a Star Trek fan, you already know, but it’s Jenkins explaining the Narrative that will crack you up, and then Nick’s analysis of his own handiwork that opens up the truth. Now if that ain’t incentive to work them words, keepin’ people alive…lol…

“Things quit making sense. The laws of physics take a coffee break. People stop thinking logically and start thinking dramatically.”

“…make a decision … take an action … It’s like an irresistible impulse …”

Sure explains all that jostling during a battle on the starship Enterprise, lol. That pants thing with Kerensky/Corey was too funny. It wasn’t the taking of them that was so hysterical, but the psychology of it and how it related.

You have GOT to read the codas at the end. Think of them as epilogues with good info. That first one is Nick’s, and I had to wonder if Dahl is right what with all the mistakes Nick makes in this coda. You’ll get closure on Matthew’s recovery.The third one is hopeful with Samantha on a blind date, a lot more positive than the Intrepid‘s big finish. Too funny…Scalzi is very imaginative.

Persevere. It’s well worth it for the laughs and to see how they fix things.

The Story

No matter what, if you want to survive, do not be around when they need bodies for an away mission. ‘Cause that’s what you’ll be and Dahl, Duvall, Hanson, Finn, and Hester are determined to change Intrepid‘s luck. It’ll mean stealing a shuttle and kidnapping part of the crew to travel back in time.

The Characters

Ensign Andrew Dahl chose not to become a priest of the Forshan religion, partly because he simply couldn’t conform to some of the requirements — that one on self-impregnating for one. He also knows the four major dialects of the Forshan. Maia Duvall. Jimmy Hanson is the son of one of the richest men in the galaxy and Andy’s friend. Crewman Finn and Jasper Hester have been, sort of, shanghaied onto Intrepid. Finn’s a, um, creative seller while Hester is too desperate for friends.

The crew of the Intrepid includes:
Science Officer Q’eeng, Captain Lucius Abernathy, Chief Engineer Paul West, Medical Chief Hartnell, and Lieutenant Anatoly Kerensky, the astrogator and part of the bridge crew, who seems to lead almost all the away missions and has magical powers of recovery.

Jake Cassaway, Fiona Mbeke, Ben Trin, and Lieutenant Collins are assigned to Xenobiology; Jenkins used to be assigned there before his wife, Margaret, bought it.

Ensigns Davis and Chen really ratchet up the absurdity. Sid Black was taken by an ice shark.

Bullington is captain of the Nantes; Jer Weston is part of her crew.

The Box is a technical marvel which always delivers just in time. Casey Zane is a librarian friend of Dahl’s.

The Chronicles of the Intrepid
Brian Abnett is Dahl. Marc Corey plays Kerensky. Matthew Paulson, Hester on the show, is in a coma. Charles Paulson is the show’s producer. Judy Melendez is Paulson’s runner. Nick Weinstein is the chief writer. Samantha Martinez played Margaret for an episode.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a close-up of a red shirt with a hint of neckline at the top and a pair of stretched out, curved diamonds holding a Dub U just below center, and the author’s name writ large in black while the title is smaller in a raised white.

The title is the clue, for it’s the Redshirts who are at risk.