Redshirts: A Novel With Three Codas
© 2012 John Scalzi
Audible presentation read by Wil Wheaton, runtime 7 hrs 41 minutes.
Redshirts is not what you think it is.
To be sure, it’s mostly what you think it is, what you’ve heard it is; a spoof of Star Trek that mixes it in with concepts from The Truman Show and Stranger than Fiction, and comes within a few words of quoting that other great Star Trek spoof, GalaxyQuest. As far as spoofs go, it lives up to its reputation for being hilarious and meta. We have self-aware redshirts who avoid interactions with the bridge crew of a Federation , having realized that those guys go on away missions with crewmen and come back with bodybags. One member of the crew believes that the good ship Intrepid is in fact a TV show, and that when strange things happen, that’s the Narrative at work. A lot of the silliness of shows like Star Trek is played with, particularly plot implausibilities, and the ability of battered characters to heal overnight, like the much-abused Miles Edward O’Brien. After a couple of ensigns begin to that they’re living in a conspiracy, they go on a mission to put things to rights, and it involves time-travel, doppelgangers, and other such hijinks. If that were everything, I’d put this book up on the shelf having gotten my laugh, and think of it fondly from time to time as I do Night of the Living Trekkies. But that’s not the entirety of Redshirts. Buried at the end are three codas, titled “First Person”, “Second Person”, and “Third Person” respectively. These three codas transform an amusing novel into one which is profoundly moving. I can’t say if the conclusion’s effect on me is merely a consequence of the author’s writing, or if it was Wil Wheaton’s delivery. Suffice it to say, I never thought Wil Wheaton could move me, but he did.