Saturday, September 21, 2013

John Scalzi's "Redshirts" - Best book I've read this year

I mentioned the other day that I was reading Redshirts, by John Scalzi (Tor, 2012; 317 pages).

I'm finished reading it now, and all I can say is, Damn, that was a good book. I can't do a proper review of it. I'd have to give too much away in the way of spoilers, and I don't want to do that. I want you - all of you - to go out and read it, and I want you to come to it as it did, with only the most basic idea of what it is about. I want you to discover its delights for yourself.

I will say that I wasn't sure how the codas were going to work (there are three of them), but all three of them relate quite solidly to the main story and are an essential part of the whole. It may even be said that the codas are where the book's soul resides.

I will also say that I can state with certainty that Redshirts has vaulted into the list of my favorite books. At some point, I will have to acquire a copy of my own (I read it out of the library). I like the other things I've read that Scalzi has written very much, but I love Redshirts.

There are a couple of basic things you probably do need to know about the book. It takes a meme from the original "Star Trek" series, turns it on its head, plays with it, and does some extremely odd and interesting things with it. Also, you might have heard that Redshirts is a funny book. And it is - it is very funny; laugh-out-loud funny, in fact. But don't let that fool you. There are interesting ideas here, too, and some interesting issues are raised. These issues show that Scalzi studied philosophy at the University of Chicago, but you shouldn't let that make you hesitate to read the book, either. It all works really well, and he sneaks those philosophical issues into the story in ways so that you might not realize he's dealing with philosophical issues until well after he has you caught up in them.

So that you'll know what you're looking for when you go online to order Redshirts or to the bookstore to buy it or to the library to check it out, this is what the cover of the book looks like:

Whichever way you read it, just go read Redshirts. There's even an audiobooks version, performed by Wil Wheaton.

Oh. One other thing about Redshirts. It won this year's Hugo as Best Science Fiction Novel at Worldcon.

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