Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Star Trek fans will immediately recognize the tropes this hilarious book lampoons. But Scalzi, who worked as a consultant on another sci-fi show, performs the clever trick of combining parody with homage to the genre that has inspired so many authors and readers even through plot holes, questionable scientific basis, and cliché.

It was a treat to uncover the very “meta” nature of this sci-fi universe that borrows heavily from a few space-faring military TV shows. It all starts out as standard spaceship fare, but around the middle of the book the plot takes a very odd turn and we learn that this universe isn’t as real as the characters thought it was. The characters are likable and they regularly provide the kind of punchy dialogue Scalzi is known for, and they go on a weird adventure that eventually leads them to confront their “creator” and take control of their own fates.

Just when I was thinking that humorous parody was all this book had to offer, the final chapters surprised me with a stark change in tone. The book shifts to examine how the events of the main plot affected some seemingly insignificant characters and the results are poignant, dramatic, and even a little somber. The book’s final chapters solidify the book’s central theme: the “throwaway” characters can have rich and touching stories of their own in the hands of a resourceful writer.

Buy Redshirts on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0765334798