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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come on, Andy!
I bought this book, not having read much of Scalzi's previous work, mainly for its intriguing premise. What if, several centuries in the future, in a universe somewhat like that of "Star Trek" - starships, a galactic federation, aliens, diplomacy, space battles - the junior crew (and in particular, Ensign Andy Dahl) on one of those ships start to ask awkward questions -...
Published on 19 Jun 2012 by D. Harris

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea but terrible execution
I had high hopes for this book, having seen it was on a few 'Best of..' lists. Certainly the premise appealed to me as a fan of Sci-Fi shows and Star Trek in particular. Sadly it was a poor book. It is written almost entirely in dialogue, with each speech bubble being followed by a 'said SO-AND-SO.' After a while that gets really irritating.

'Shall we go down...
Published 13 months ago by dirkfeelgood


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea but terrible execution, 16 July 2013
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This review is from: Redshirts (Kindle Edition)
I had high hopes for this book, having seen it was on a few 'Best of..' lists. Certainly the premise appealed to me as a fan of Sci-Fi shows and Star Trek in particular. Sadly it was a poor book. It is written almost entirely in dialogue, with each speech bubble being followed by a 'said SO-AND-SO.' After a while that gets really irritating.

'Shall we go down here' said Bill
'Let's' said Tom
'I don't know what we'll find' said Bill
'Neither do I' said Tom.

Also I found the characters to be poorly developed. They were all a bit snarky with no real defining features beyond perhaps their sex. (the female character being the only one really to have her sexuality brought into it).

I almost didn't finish it but decided in the end to push on through. It wasn't worth it.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come on, Andy!, 19 Jun 2012
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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I bought this book, not having read much of Scalzi's previous work, mainly for its intriguing premise. What if, several centuries in the future, in a universe somewhat like that of "Star Trek" - starships, a galactic federation, aliens, diplomacy, space battles - the junior crew (and in particular, Ensign Andy Dahl) on one of those ships start to ask awkward questions - questions about why there are so many pointless, contrived and unlikely deaths among their ranks?

The title alone seemed to promise an amusing read, enlivened by geeky in-references. If you're interested in the book you'll probably know where the title comes from - but if you don't, the "redshirts" were the expendable security personnel in the original "Star Trek", a couple of whom would invariably accompany Kirk and Spock on hazardous missions and almost invariably get killed). Terry Pratchett said, I think, something about the minions in fantasy novels who would come running in response to the call of "Guards! Guards!" deserving a book of their own - well, here is the Sf equivalent.

In fact, this is much more than an amusing read. I don't want to say too much about what happens, for fear of spoiling the story, but as well as having fun exploring his central concept, Scalzi manges to pose a number of questions about what is real and what isn't, free will, an author's responsibility to his or her characters, and what are the hallmarks of good (and bad0 SF writing (and perhaps, writing in general). And he writes a good, page turning story as well - this isn't just a parody, or a dramatisation of tvtropes.org.

Yes, to a degree this book is having an argument with itself (and with the reader) about those questions - this is made more explicit in the "codas" (about which even less can be said, again for fear of spoilers - except that they are clearly an organic part of the book, not afterthoughts, and while more serious than the main story, shouldn't be skipped). But it's a fun read as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'd think it's just techy fanfic, but you'd be wrong., 13 April 2014
By 
Abizer (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Redshirts (Kindle Edition)
I expected a fun read. I got it.

What I also got was a well written story with characters I cared about.

Don't miss the three codas at the end - they're the best bit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick around for the Ending, 18 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Redshirts (Kindle Edition)
The book is as clever and funny as most of Scalzi work, with lots of in jokes of trekkies and regular jokes for the rest of us mere mortals, but the extra CODA entries really make for a wonderful ending. I won't spoil it, but your in for a treat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, Not Great, 4 Jun 2013
By 
M. G. Chisholm "chiefengineer3" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Redshirts (Kindle Edition)
Scalzi has written some great sci-fi such as Old Man's War, however he has misfired a little on this curious mix of parody, comedy and pathos.

Essentially we have a crew of a space ship who have come to realise that they always end up getting offed whilst the senior officers lead a charmed life. Just like Star Trek whom Scalzi has some clearly disparaging ideas about. The thread of the story is the bit part players trying to work out why this is happening and to somehow stop it. I won't say too much more or it will give the game away.

What somewhat spoils this is the fact that to start with Scalzi is writing a comedy, then it turns into a parody eventually becoming a little confusing and a lot serious. It's a bit like the newer Terry Pratchett stories where the initial part of the book is good fun but tapers off towards the end. I just wish that if a book starts off this way it would continue rather than becoming ever more schizophrenic.

Effectively we have a mix of Star Trek and Galaxy Quest with some of Jasper Fford's Thursday Next chucked in for good measure. It's not all bad but it could have been great.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So clever it disappears up it's own...., 18 May 2013
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Redshirts (Paperback)
Good author, clever idea and it didn't work for me.
It takes the joke about red shirted security guards in sci-if always getting killed in episodes and introduces us to a starship where reality and fiction blends rather too much. The first half of the book is the story of The Intrepid where crews members die too easily and eventually realise it may be the script that is to blame. The second half is a number of codas giving us different perspectives on the story and for me I had lost interest by then to be honest.
The trouble is, much of this has been done before, and better. So this adds very little and is not as clever as it thinks it is. Shame as Scalzi is a good writer but he is off target with this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A curate's egg, 15 May 2013
By 
Clever Spud (Birmingham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Redshirts (Paperback)
The main story is a light, predictable, Science Fiction romp with Scalzi's trade-mark wise-cracking characters who all fill a role but otherwise act and speak with identical voices. His characters' lack of identity is his major failing as a writer. It isn't even a spoiler to say that the central premise of the main part of the book is "Hey, isn't it just like we're on TV". He takes that and runs with it in predictable, neatly summed-up fashion. It's mildly amusing throughout but the dialogue is like listening to a room full of old men wise-cracking before climbing into a barber's chair. The sort of thing that passes through the head of the nondescript guy standing at the other end of the bar in a Damon Runyon tale. It is wearying but tolerable over the course of the story.

The second, almost, half of the book is made up of a series of fairly strange, serious, philosophical reflections, near essays, on choices, consequences, inevitability and obligation. It isn't what I was expecting and I neither enjoyed or benefited from it.

To be honest I haven't really enjoyed Scalzi's work in the last few years but I keep giving it a shot. This is far from the worst book out there and worth a borrow if you're a Star Trek fan, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're after something truly original or interesting. His first couple of Old Man's War books are far better in that regard. If you're after wise-cracking SF then you'd do a lot worse than re-visiting the classic Stainless Steel Rat stories of the late-lamented Harry Harrison.

3.5 out of 5.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever idea, well plotted, 20 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Redshirts (Paperback)
I read this book in a day, and I was keen to see what happened in the end, but somehow it was not the enjoyable experience that some of the other reviews here led me to expect.

I have been trying to work out what the problem was, and it's difficult to put my finger on what exactly jarred (probably something to do with the characterisation), but I found it curiously lacking in charm.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good premise, but ultimately disappointing, 1 Oct 2012
By 
Mark Chitty (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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So, Redshirts, the new John Scalzi novel. Okay. Hmmm.

Look, I'm a fan of Scalzi's fiction. His Old Man's War books (Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe's Tale) are excellent SF with a good story, setting, and plenty of humour in the narrative that works well. Agent to the Stars was also a really good read, as was Fuzzy Nation. But Redshirts. Man, disappointing isn't even the word.

The focus of Redshirts is the UUC Intrepid, and some newly arrived ensigns - our titicular Redshirts. The primary character is Andrew Dahl, and it's his experiences as he joins the Intrepid that we follow. There's something very wrong on this ship, and with his colleaugues miraculously disappearing at the right moments just as senior officers walk into the room, Dahl soon sets about to discover just what the hell is going on. It appears that there's a rather high percentage of crew deaths on away missions, and it is clear that certain people seem to be invulnerable to this misfortune....

I'll start with the good: Redshirts is a funny novel, a quick read, and full of references to Star Trek. I enjoyed reading it, plowing through in barely a day, simply because it's a typical Scalzi novel and his prose is easy to read - it very much has the 'one more chapter' effect. I also very much liked the fact that Redshirts focused on the minor crew members on the Intrepid, not on the bridge crew and high-ranking officials as is the case with many novels, and TV shows.

However.

Despite how much I enjoyed reading Redshirts I got the feeling, on pretty much every page, that I'd seen this before. Scalzi pays homage to Star Trek, without a doubt, and manages to do so fairly well, but that's its biggest failing. It's too similar, too many plot elements have been seen before. Adding a tongue-in-cheek take on them is good because, lets face it, the source material is ripe for mocking. But Redshirts' main draw is also its biggest letdown.

I had very high hopes for Redshirts, but ultimately it failed for me on pretty much all counts. It's a quick - and enjoyable - read, but doesn't do well when you look below the superficial elements. And the Codas - completely unneccesary, and it felt like they were there simply as padding because the main story was over so quickly.

For a bit of mindless reading if you've a spare afternoon, then Redshirts should suit you fine, but if you're looking for something deeper just give it a miss. I can't say I recommend it, because I don't, I'd much rather direct you to his previous novels where you'll find some of the most enjoyable SF stories I've read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not half as much fun as it sounds. (Hugo award 2013), 10 July 2013
By 
D. J. Ketchin "living in books" (Edinburgh Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Redshirts (Kindle Edition)
The premise sounds very entertaining.

A new recruit to the Intrepid realises something is very very wrong with the way away team missions are conducted.
Thr bridge crew act strangely and most of the crew tries to avoid them and any involvement in away missions.
Sounds like a fabulous opportunity for comedic insight into the world of Star trek.

Except you would be wrong.
This is deathy dull.
It only lives up to its opening premise in the early chapters then runs out of steam.
Its too interested in being meta about the show formula that it becomes the very cliche its poking fun at - and pretends that thats clever because its 'meta' too.

Not remotely living up to Scalzi's other work.
Avoid this like the plague - but do pick up his other works - like 'Old mans war'.

Updated. This book won best Novel in the 2013 Higo awards.
Obviously a lot of people really like it.
To be fair - I really really like Scalzi as an author too. I just dont like this book.
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