I reviewed this book on Goodreads ten years, just before starting my book review blog, and while I liked it well enough, I had only given it 3 stars. But do you recommend a 3 star book to friends and family?
Tor Books has rereleased the book, now as a “Tor Essential” – meaning (from the Tor website) “Tor Essentials line was created to give readers new editions of science fiction and fantasy titles that have stood the test of time, and to bring back ones current SFF fans might have missed out on in the past.”
And with this rerelease I was able to get an ARC (is it still an Advanced Reader Copy if it’s a reprint?) which motivated me to read this classic, this ‘essential’ again.
The valiant crew of the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid have suspicions that there is something uniquely unusual going on with their ship and their senior crew. That senior crew – those bridge officers, mostly – will survive the worst disasters ever faced by man or beast, whilst the lower deck crew members are more likely to be killed while on an away mission than not. The Intrepid, in fact, has an unusually high mortality rate for the lower-ranked ship members. Enough so, that some enterprising crew members have rigged a system to let them know when a senior crew member might be in their area on the ship so that they can be avoided. One perhaps paranoid member has even taken to hiding out, now living with the bowels of the ship, never to be assigned to duty again.
The most widely-accepted theory among the ship members is that they no longer have free will, but are living out the exploits of a badly written science fiction television show from Earth’s 20th century. They believe this so strongly that they abduct one of the senior officers, go back in time to Earth’s mid-to-late 20th century and confront their doppelgängers – who are, in fact, actors – and producer of the show to convince them all that for the health and safety of these future explorers, the characters on tv have to stop dying at every confrontation.
There’s more to it than this, of course, and my favorite aspect of this story is “The Box” and the Captain’s need to find a problem with The Box’s solution (you’ll get it when you read it).
I think that there’s good reason that Tor Books has this on the Essentials list and I will upgrade my rating a bit. This is goofy but clever and there’s more meat here than one might expect. It’s more than just a satire of Star Trek. It’s … well, it’s ‘essential” reading for the scifi fan.
Looking for a good book? If you read Redshirts by John Scalzi when it first came out, it’s time to read it again. If you haven’t read it, then it needs to go right up on top of your ‘to-be-read’ list.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Redshirts: A Novel With Three Codas
author: John Scalzi
publisher: Tor Books
paperback, 320 pages