Thursday, April 18, 2013
Redshirts by John Scalzi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
When Ensign Dahl is assigned to Intrepid, he quickly realizes that there is trouble on the Universal Union's flagship - something that has raised the mortality rate on Away Missions, but only for newcomers....
This spoof of badly-written TV science fiction follows a group of ordinary crewmen who quickly figure out that their lives are cheap and that being on an Away Mission (or decks 6-12 during a battle) might mean their brutal and meaningless deaths. For those of you living in a cave, a "redshirt" is the term coined by geeks to describe disposable crewmen who die on Star Trek away missions to raise the stakes for the heroes.
Redshirts has its moments of humor, but plot-wise it feels lightweight. No real surprises here. As a fan of several Star Trek shows, I appreciated the many inside jokes aimed at lazy TV writers, but I wish the solution found by Scalzi's redshirts had been cleverer and less lazy.
The biggest problem for me was the challenge of keeping track of the main characters, who are referred to by their last names and remain two-dimensional.There are few descriptions, and everything about Intrepid and its crew feels too generic to justify the characters' insistence that they are real people, too.
If you like your sci-fi sardonic and meta, you may also enjoy Year Zero by Rob Reid.
Oh, and as for ice sharks being completely ridiculous, Scalzi should have read this Wikipedia article.