“The red shirt,” Abnett said, “You know, in the original Star Trek, they always had Kirk and Bones and Spock and then some poor dude in a red shirt who got vaporized before the first commercial. The moral of the story was not to wear a red shirt. Or go on any away missions when you’re the only one whose name isn’t in the opening credits.”
If the Thursday Next Series and the Star Trek Series has a baby, it would be Redshirts by John Scalzi. In many ways, it is as much of a novel about science fiction as it is a science fiction novel. For the most part, it is a fun romp, although it does have some touching and thoughtful moments. The novel was nominated for both a 2013 Hugo and a 2013 Locus Science Fiction award.
Very briefly, Andrew Dahl is newly assigned to the ship Intrepid, along with a few other people. They soon realize that something is very odd about the ship. People die in totally bizarre ways on away missions. Some of the long-term crew members sustain massive injuries and yet always survive, healing within a week. The other crew members try to keep a low-profile. There are dramatic moments that don’t seem to make sense. Jenkins, who is in hiding on the ship, has an outrageous theory. But, when Dahl and his friends test the theory, Jenkins’ theory looks more plausible. Together they attempt to stop the mysterious deaths.
When I first started reading Redshirts, I was confused because it seemed so poorly written. How could this novel possibly be nominated for two awards? As I read further, I found it enjoyable in a sort of Alice through the rabbit hole sort of way. I like the fresh perspective. 2312 is still my pick for the 2013 Hugo award, but Redshirts has a strong appeal for those of us who have watched science fiction series week after week.