Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Hardspear reviews Redshirts by John Scalzi (Audible Version)

Dr. McCoy Disproven
As to the genre…  I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea don’t “get” the whole science fiction slash satire or fantasy slash satire thing.  Or usually I don’t.  I don’t “get” Douglas Adams.  I don’t “get” Terry Pratchet.  Howevurrr…  Redshirts by John Scalzi is different.  It is meta.  Maybe meta is different from satire.  As I started to listen to the Audible version of Redshirts, I thought, “Oh no.  Here we go again”.  Before long though, I became totally enmeshed in a geek get-off sort of way.  It is impossible not to if you have any affinity for Star Trek.

As to the plot…  In this galaxy there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all that, and perhaps more...only one of each of us”.  -Dr. McCoy, Star Trek, “Balance of Terror”.  

Well… not according to John Scalzi!  According to John Scalzi, in some weird alternative time-line there CAN be more than one of us.  Just ask Ensign Andy Dahl and his other low ranking, red-shirted compatriots. 

The Three Codas…  Towards the end, the cadence of the book changes from a fast paced and funny warp 9 to a slower, thoughtful, thrusters only velocity.  As I liked things nicely wrapped up, I would not have minded six or even more codas.

The narrative and the narration…  Wil Wheaton reads with élan and gusto and excitement.  The last coda he reads with emotion and compassion.  Many of the Audible reviews comment on the distraction of the overuse of character perspective indication.  It’s complicated… How do I explain.  In the narration there are conversations between characters where the sentences are short and all of them end in “he said, she said” or “Dahl said, Duval said.  This is especially rampant at the start of the book, but grows less.  I have not seen the complaint in reviews of people who read the book as opposed to listened to it.  Maybe the book is written to read like the script of a TV episode, I don’t know.  I just thought it added to the book’s overall quirkiness.

As to quality, yes it is worth to use your monthly free credit.  As to length, it was a bit short.  I usually try to get more minutes for my money.  (Remember, my monthly Audible subscription costs 130 South African Rands)


France said...

This isn't a Star Trek parody. I know it looks like one based on the title and plot summary. But it is a much deeper book than that- and induces several "wait, what?" moments when you are reading it. I will not spoil them as they are a big part of the appeal of the book.

Despite the action packed plotting, the book is often a high-level rumination on science fiction, writing in general and even the meaning and purpose of a life. That said, the book does have quite a bit of appeal for fans of the author's prior works as well. The writing is typical Scalzi, light, witty, fast moving and breezy. At the same time, the last third of the book introduces some rather heavy concepts through two independent but related stories which start after the main story's conclusion.

Hardspear De La Azotea said...

@france. Thanks for commenting...