Genre: Science Fiction
Setting: In space aboard the spaceship Intrepid, and on Earth.
First sentence: From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abernathy, Science Officer Q'eeng and Chief Engineer Paul West perched on a second, larger boulder, and thought, well, this sucks.
It's kind of a joke to fans of the Star Trek television program; being part of an away team was often very dangerous. Especially to an extra wearing a red uniform.
In this novel, the author explores the red shirt experience from the redshirts' point of view.
The redshirts on the spaceship Intrepid have noticed that when certain senior officers lead away teams, a redshirt crewman often dies. The redshirt who dies is usually new to the crew, has little backstory and often does not have first name.
In an act of self-preservation, the veteran crew members hide when a senior officer is assembling an away team.
Crew members have also noticed that senior officers act strangely when the ship in in a crisis situation.
One of the redshirts reaches a remarkable conclusion: they are characters in a poorly written science fiction television program that is a rip-off of Star Trek.
The red shirts decide that instead of waiting for their turn to die, they need to take control of the narrative of the program. They do this by traveling in time back to present day Earth. There they contact the actors who portrayed them, the producer of the show, and most importantly, the head writer.
This is where Scalzi's narrative gets really strange. For me, the actions and motivations of the characters, got really confusing. In my opinion, Scalzi started with an interesting premise, and lost it in the last half of the story. Scalzi does pull it together at the end for an interesting conclusion.
Tacked on to the end of the novel are three short stories from the redshirt universe. Here Scalzi explores the experiences that three"real people" had after interacting with the redshirts. The first is written from the first person point of view, the second from second person, and third from third person. These stories were interesting to read and gave the book a unique ending.
If you are a fan of Scalzi, you'll want to read this book. If you're new to Scalzi, read some of his better novels such as Old Man's War. Come back to this book after you've read some of is best.
Old Man's War
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