I’m a huge fan of Star Trek, and before you ask, my favorites are The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Not all of Star Trek is great though, there’s a lot of bad episodes (just watch some of SF Debris’ reviews and you can see for yourself), but there’s also a lot of great episodes that have made it on my “best episodes that ever aired on TV…ever” list. Because of my love for Star Trek, there is an awesome book I would like to recommend to anyone who loves sci-fi, Trek, or comedy novels.
Redshirts by John Scalzi.
Summery (taken from Amazon.com):
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on “Away Missions” alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs.
Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
This novel is so much fun, the entire book is a joy to read. It’s a brilliant story that shows the adventures of living on a Star Trek-like space ship but from the point of view of the redshirts, the extra, disposable crew members no one ever thinks about. It’s great. It’s very well written, and despite it being a comedy book, it has genuine moments that make you stop and think (especially if you’re a writer. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about).
The characters are memorable and fun to follow. As you read the story, you begin to connect with them and really understand their plight.
That brings me to the comedy. I haven’t laughed so hard while reading a book since I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxywhen I was a teenager. All the comedy hit the mark perfectly, and if you’re familiar to Trek at all, it’s even funnier. The pseudoscience that “fixes” everything, the apparently random (and absurd) death of lowly crew members, the dramatic way people talk. This book pokes fun at all the stuff we love about Star Trek and other shows like it.
Oh, and the audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton (Wesley!), which is awesome.
This book isn’t exactly family friendly. It’s no where near A Song of Ice and Fire, but if you’re turned off by language, this book wont be for you.
The only real gripe I have with this novel is that it’s too short. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, the novel tells an entire story, and nothing is really left out. It’s very satisfying, but I still would have liked it to be a little longer. Because I love the story universe Scalzi created, I want to see a lot more of it.
I recommend this book because of how enjoyable it is. It’s fast paced, the writing is fantastic, the comedy is golden, and the codas at the end of the story really add some food for thought. Check it out if you like comedy, Star Trek, or even just sci-fi in general.