We sometimes review books that aren’t new, cuz why not?
I panicked at one point early in this novel as I became suddenly afraid it was gonna wreck Star Trek for me. But no – this is not just some lame spoof. Redshirts succeeds in being more than parody by being good science fiction. My test for good sci-fi is whether or not I ever have to read a section twice, to make sure I understand it; I did that a lot in this book. Obviously, at least to anyone who would read sci-fi, “redshirts” refers to the cannon fodder of any Star Trek (TOS- duh) episode. Kirk, Spock, etc. never die, right? The doe-eyed crew members that do are almost always wearing red shirts. In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead mode, Scalzi follows a group of redshirts on a brain-tweaking quest to not get shot/eaten/derezzed/scullyflapped or dorphed. Hilarity and sci-fi ensue. And this is the guy who gave us Old Man’s War, so you can be sure of more depth and heart than a “Sharktractor!”-style Sci-Fi channel cool-cuz-it’s-dumb waste of an afternoon. It might broadly remind you of Galaxy Quest, but it’s way more complex, and just as funny, despite the absence of Rockwell or Shaloub.
This is more than a long postmodern inside-joke for dorks (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but you will get more of that warm, in-group feeling if you are a dork.