Redshirts: A Novel With Three Codas
© 2012 John Scalzi
320 pages
Audible presentation read by Wil Wheaton, runtime 7 hrs 41 minutes.

“I’m not even supposed to be here! I’m just Crewman #6. I’m the guy in the episode who dies to prove the situation is serious!” (“Guy”, GalaxyQuest)

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.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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5 Responses to Redshirts

  1. Brian Joseph says:

    I have been wanting to read this. I am a huge Star Trek fan and I think that I would get a lot out of this.

    I have never head anything about the coda at the end. Your commentary makes me want to read this even more.

  2. R.T. says:

    Interesting! Wil Wheaton's career trajectory is also interesting. After Star Trek, with stop-over at Big Bang Theory, he is now doing audiobooks. Hmmmm. Well, he is an interesting fellow. He should have more success.

  3. Stephen says:

    @Brian: Trek fans will definitely enjoy this as a parody, and for what it matures into. It's not as casual as Night of the Living Trekkies, because the plot is more elaborate, but the passion Wheaton delivered really drew me in.

    @R.T I will admit to becoming fond of Wheaton mainly through Big Bang, although I did check on his blog from time to time in the 2000s when I began spending a lot of time online. He seems to have survived his beginning as a child actor fairly well..

  4. James says:

    I'm due to read some more Scalzi. I had not heard of this but it seems to have some (a lot) of his signature humor.

  5. Stephen says:

    @James This is the only work I've read by him. I take it he's a good author, if you've read much of him?

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