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Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

by John Scalzi

Library Journal Scalzi is best known for his military sf (Old Man's War), but he's also written some lighter sf (Android's Dream; Fuzzy Nation). His new book is an entertaining look at a universe that will be familiar to fans of a certain 1960s television show. Ensign Andrew Dahl is excited to begin his tour of duty aboard the Universal Union flagship Intrepid. But he and other new crew members soon notice certain odd practices: old hands tend to disappear whenever the bridge crew comes looking for members of an away team. Someone on each of these teams always dies, but it's never one of the senior officers. As Dahl and his friends investigate, they encounter a crew member who's been hiding in the service tunnels and has a bizarre theory: their universe is being affected by an old television show! VERDICT Dealing with issues of time travel, identity, love, and loss, this humorous and thought-provoking novel should appeal to fans of sf (especially Star Trek devotees) who like a good laugh along with their big ideas and space action. [See Prepub Alert, 12/19/11.]-Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In a world where junior starship officers inevitably and dramatically die on planetside missions-a problem any Star Trek fan will be familiar with-ensign Andrew Dahl joins the crew of the Universal Union ship Intrepid, the pride of the fleet, and quickly realizes his life is at risk. As Dahl's fellow officers drop like flies and backstab each other to escape away duty, he decides to figure out exactly what's going on. The first third of the book is a darkly comic romp, skewering common plot holes and lazy genre conventions while making the reader eager for the ingenious reason for the "coincidental" deaths. Sadly, Scalzi reveals all too soon that they're just characters in a story, an explanation that neither surprises nor satisfies. The rest of the book is increasingly strange and unfunny as Dahl breaks the fourth wall to demand answers. Scalzi explores life among the doomed redshirts with ingeniously morbid glee, but that's not enough to save the story from collapsing in on itself. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Agency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Scalzi is best known for his military sf (Old Man's War), but he's also written some lighter sf (Android's Dream; Fuzzy Nation). His new book is an entertaining look at a universe that will be familiar to fans of a certain 1960s television show. Ensign Andrew Dahl is excited to begin his tour of duty aboard the Universal Union flagship Intrepid. But he and other new crew members soon notice certain odd practices: old hands tend to disappear whenever the bridge crew comes looking for members of an away team. Someone on each of these teams always dies, but it's never one of the senior officers. As Dahl and his friends investigate, they encounter a crew member who's been hiding in the service tunnels and has a bizarre theory: their universe is being affected by an old television show! VERDICT Dealing with issues of time travel, identity, love, and loss, this humorous and thought-provoking novel should appeal to fans of sf (especially Star Trek devotees) who like a good laugh along with their big ideas and space action. [See Prepub Alert, 12/19/11.]-Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal When he's posted to the starship Intrepid, Ensign Andrew Dahl discovers that invariably, whenever senior officers lead an away team mission, one of the anonymous low-ranking crewmen-like Dahl and his friends-accompanying them dies in a horrible way. The more deeply he investigates the mystery, the more bizarre twists the situation takes, until Dahl and his expendable "redshirt" comrades end up on an unexpected mission of their own to try to escape their fate. Wil Wheaton provides an enthusiastic narration (as well as another Trek connection). The comic novel ends on an unexpectedly touching note. -VERDICT Recommended for fans of Star Trek and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as well as those who enjoy Scalzi's more serious novels. ["Dealing with issues of time travel, identity, love, and loss, this humorous and thought-provoking novel should appeal to fans of sf (especially Star Trek devotees) who like a good laugh along with their big ideas and space action," read the review of the New York Times best-selling Tor hc, LJ 5/15/12.-Ed.]-Jason Puckett, Georgia State Univ., Atlanta (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In a world where junior starship officers inevitably and dramatically die on planetside missions-a problem any Star Trek fan will be familiar with-ensign Andrew Dahl joins the crew of the Universal Union ship Intrepid, the pride of the fleet, and quickly realizes his life is at risk. As Dahl's fellow officers drop like flies and backstab each other to escape away duty, he decides to figure out exactly what's going on. The first third of the book is a darkly comic romp, skewering common plot holes and lazy genre conventions while making the reader eager for the ingenious reason for the "coincidental" deaths. Sadly, Scalzi reveals all too soon that they're just characters in a story, an explanation that neither surprises nor satisfies. The rest of the book is increasingly strange and unfunny as Dahl breaks the fourth wall to demand answers. Scalzi explores life among the doomed redshirts with ingeniously morbid glee, but that's not enough to save the story from collapsing in on itself. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Agency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Scalzi (Fuzzy Nation, 2011, etc.) takes a stab at metafiction--and misses. In 2456, when Ensign Andrew Dahl is assigned to the xenobiology laboratory of the Universal Union starship Intrepid, he looks forward to participating in Away Missions. Peculiarly, however, experienced crew members invariably vanish just before the officers arrive with the mission assignments. Capt. Abernathy, science officer Q'eeng and astrogator Kerensky always go along, whether their skills are required or not, along with a handful of anonymous juniors. Worse, each mission always entails a usually unnecessary confrontation with improbable and hostile entities (ice sharks, killer robots with harpoons, Borgovian land worms) during which one or more of the hapless juniors get killed in dramatically horrible fashion. Abernathy and Q'eeng always emerge unperturbed and unscathed, while Kerensky consistently gets mangled but miraculously survives. If all this sounds like they're trapped in a bad episode of Star Trek, you're not wrong: They are. Somehow, and Scalzi declines to discuss the details, the actions taking place are being dictated by the half-baked scripts of a Star Trek clone series back in 2012. This, and its entirely predictable resolution, occupies 200 pages or so. The remainder comprises three codas set in 2012 that attempt to ground the aftermath in some sort of reality. Fittingly, the starship characters, those who aren't ciphers, sound and behave like teenagers. The plot you know about. Intriguing developments, fresh ideas, dashes of originality? Forget it. It's all vaguely amusing in a sophomoric sort of way, which is fine if you're an easily diverted sophomore with a couple of hours to kill. Check the date. If it isn't April 1st, you've been had.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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