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Redshirts by John Scalzi

Published by TOR Books on June 5, 2012

320 Pages (Hardcover)

Blurb: Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expendedon avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
Redshirts is the winner of the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel

My Take: This was my first time getting to read a Scalzi novel (trust me, it won’t take another 31 years to read my second!) and I was absolutely delighted with this book. I can’t thank my local library enough for giving John Scalzi in the long list of recommendations for what I could read as part of my 2016 Reading Challenge. The book delivered on what I had expected based on its premise: humor, sarcasm, wit, and fun. I found myself struggling to keep the laughter in while sitting next to my wife, as I did not want to disturb her reading. But there were times when that was simply not possible.

The story itself covers the first 2/3 of the book, and that was easily the fun romp of a story I was needing. The final third is broken down into three parts, or Codas, with each one covering a smaller story with a character that had appeared during the story. It is a break from the light-hearted fun of the main story, but each of them is interesting in its own right and are certainly entertaining in a different way. While I found myself missing the main story (it was disappointing that it had ended so soon!) I did find those Codas to be enjoyable. And they were a little more serious in style, which allowed them to explore some deeper issues than would be expected during the main story in Redshirts.

I would certainly recommend this book, of course, to anyone who was is a fan of Star Trek as you will get more out of the humor than a non-Trek fan. Anyone who is looking for a light, fast, humorous read should seriously consider picking this one up as well. Sci-Fi fans in general would be wise not to miss this book. The only caution would be that the book is best suited for older teens and up, based on some language and content. Final verdict: Read this book!