Thursday, May 31, 2012

“Redshirts” by John Scalzi (Tor/Gollancz) - the Mark Lawrence Method

Scalzi-Red ShirtsOk, this is one of two “reviews” I’m going to post for John Scalzi’s latest novel, Redshirts. This one came about because I sent Scalzi a tweet telling him that I was irked about how difficult it was going to be to review the book. [Spoilers could so easily abound!] Mark Lawrence caught the tweet, and suggested that I

“perhaps use a series of animal pictures wherein the expressions of kittens, elephants, etc., convey your thoughts?”

To which I, naturally, replied: “Done.”

So, here it is. As a dog lover, but also someone familiar with internet memes, I have provided (where possible) a parallel dog and cat (or, “kitteh”) review of various emotions I went through while reading Redshirts. This is far from exhaustive, of course.

[This is a one-time thing. Probably.]

At first, during the prologue, I was a little sceptical.


However, as the novel progressed, and I got to know the characters a little better, I started to find things rather amusing. The early chapters were filled with plenty of knowing, endearing asides and elements that are sure to please every fan of classic sci-fi television.


There were scenes that would make me grin like a fool, and others that would make me laugh at the absurdity of the crew’s situation, or a well-placed witticism.


After a while (roughly two-thirds of the way into the book), I became a little confused, as everything changed.


Perhaps even sceptical, again.


Nevertheless, despite the complete shift in gears, style and content in the final third of the book, it would be a lie to say I didn’t enjoy reading the main story of the novel. It’s fun, endearing, nostalgic science-fiction fun. It’s not perfect, but I can’t imagine any fan of sci-fi TV and novels not enjoying the wry poking-of-fun at some of the genre’s classic tropes, niggles and mores. In sum:


Just remember, whatever you do, if you find yourself on a space-ship wearing a red shirt, make sure you do one thing:

“Avoid the Narrative.”


  1. I think you've found the PERFECT answer to Justin's Cheryl'd reviews.

    1. People do seem to like this...
      I shall probably do this again.

  2. i believe sceptical dog has much to teach us. Also, it's clear that writng's day is drawing to a close and soon whole books with be writen in animal-face.

  3. Ps -I hate typing on this crapy iPad

    1. Sceptical dog is most wise, it's true. He shall share his scepticism widely and wisely in future reviews.

  4. I finished Redshirts earlier today. I don't remember the last book that had me laughing so hard!

  5. Great review! I just finished the book, and I think we had a very similar experience. I mean, I definitely made all those expressions. You missed one, where I was briefly furious... until I looked at the next page.

  6. I really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book; the story was interesting and well executed. Scalzi does a great job conveying the cognitive dissonance the characters experience as the reality of the situation is revealed. Sadly, the last third of the book was not so enjoyable.