Hugo: Redshirts (2013)

Redshirts by John Scalzi
Read March 23, 2015

Premise: A group of ensigns on an exploration starship in the distant future try to find a way around the certain, brutal, pointless deaths that plague the peons on the crew. It is, basically, what is says on the tin and very meta about it.

Verdict: I’ve been trying to get my hands on this book for at least two years so reading it was a pleasure. I will say, however, that while the first half chugs along hard at all my favorite tropes, and meta storytelling styles, once it actually gets into the why/what/where/how of the thing it gets less interesting. The logic of the plot is a bit hand-wavy, but given the nature of the story that’s possibly another meta feature. This whole book is basically Star Trek meets Stranger Than Fiction meets a little bit of Kilgore Trout. At the end it even starts fighting with itself (including a debate about whether Final Draft or Scrivener is better, so even when it’s off on its tangents it still kept me rolling. It’s very funny throughout.) It’s fairly obvious why this won a Hugo. Hugos are a fan-voted award and this is just enough of a high-camp send-up of sci-fi and fandom combined with a relentlessly logical intellectualism to appeal to the kind of people who would vote in such a thing. That’s not a strike against it; all that crap is what makes it so fun. But I’d say, if you’re not a geek maybe don’t try this or you’ll be confused. Since I personally found it overall a bit weak, I’m not nearly as enthused about it as I was earlier today when I started. But it was truly a joy to read. Kudos.

This book is fun. Read it. Enjoy.