Friday, July 13, 2012

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi

A story which could be said to be the viewpoint of the ”redshirts” in a Star Trek like TV-series. When ensign Andrew Dahl gets assigned to the Universal Union flagship Intrepid, he is first thrilled. Soon he finds that the younger crew is very nervous and tries very hard NOT to get drafted to away missions as in every mission a junior crew member seems to die in gruesome manner while the senior crew survives either without any injuries or with injuries which seem to unbelievably fast without leaving any permanent marks. Also, the laws of nature seem to bend strangely when it is dramatically appropriate or for example the survival of a senior crew member hangs on a discovery of a new “counter-bacterial” for a lethal plague in 30 minutes. Is there any way a new crew member can survive more than a few weeks? And even more importantly, what the hell is going on?
The idea was very nice and engaging. The novel consists of the main tale which is intentionally badly written with short and sparse sentences apparently imitating the run of the mill media novelizations and from three separate” codas” which add detail to the main story and tell the story of a few more peripheral characters. The three codas were by far the best part of the story, and the writing there was totally different than in the main story. Probably one reason why Scalzi added those was to tell: “Yes, I CAN write well and writing of the main part of the novel WAS intentional”. The bad quality of the beginning went somewhat too far – it took some time to get used to it as it tended to be sometimes even distractingly bad. In spite of that an entertaining and fast book to read. I didn’t exactly get the absolute end of the main part of the book – what was the meaning of that?

320 pp.

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