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Redshirts - Review by Kyle, Teen Blogger

Even with its title, Redshirts references cliches of genre-fiction. In the titular case, it is the tendency for (red-clad) Star Trek security officers to die alarmingly often, a technique used by the writers to increase dramatic tension without killing any main characters. Interestingly, it is not with condemnation that John Scalzi writes about these conventions. Quite to the contrary, it is an examination dripping with the writer’s affection towards the source material.

Redshirts is the story of a group of low-ranking officers on board the starship Intrepid, an exploration ship traversing the galaxy. After noticing some bizarre behaviours exhibited by other members of the crew, and strange patterns in the dangers they encounter, they begin to investigate these happenings. They soon discover secrets about the true nature of the ship, and the answers to deeper, stranger questions.

As a novel, Redshirts is difficult to pin down. It blends multiple genres seamlessly into a cohesive and truly hilarious whole. Though it uses many sci-fi tropes, it manages to never feel trite, with intelligent observations and deconstructions of these tropes throughout. Scalzi’s writing also shines in the main characters; they are all endearing and unique, their mundanity making an enjoyable contrast with their fantastic world.

The kind of dissection of conventions that Redshirts revels in is rare, and it being executed in as much quality as Redshirts is rarer still. Though some might suspect this kind of semi-academic writing to clash with the plot, John Scalzi weaves it through with subtle flair, showcasing his own skill and reverence for Redshirt’s cultural roots.

Redshirts is a unique novel, but one well worth taking a look at. It will be particularly enjoyable for fans of science-fiction or comedy, as both will find something to enjoy here. Its humorous dissection of many tropes and conventions of classic sci-fi is both genuinely funny, and thoroughly intriguing. It can be found, as always, in the Halifax Public Libraries collection.

Kyle, Teen Blogger


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