John Scalzi’s REDSHIRTS

I was expecting to not like this very much. Ha ha ha. You’d think after being all “Ugh, vampires” and then loving Alex Bledsoe that I’d be over this bout of snobby dismissiveness. I blame the heat. But I ended up really, really liking it. Well, not even ended up. I enjoyed it almost from the start.

Let me just say up front that this is the kind of book where reading the reviews on Goodreads really doesn’t help. The people who dislike the book seem to have been hoping for just a straight-up Star Trek send-up and are bothered that it’s not (just) that. So, they think it sucks. But I wasn’t really caring what it was or wasn’t. I just didn’t want it to suck. So, you can see why their advice that it sucks doesn’t really help you judge whether it actually sucks. In other words, “It sucks because it’s not the book I wanted to read” is a really, really different ‘sucks’ from “This book sucks to read.”

So, it doesn’t suck. It’s also not (just) a straight-up Star Trek send-up, though it is that very well. But it’s something else, stranger, more sprawling, a little more Tom Stoppard-y, definitely sweeter than that. And it’s hilarious.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the problem with the “death” of criticism. I mean, yes, it’s nice to be warned if a book is actually terrible. And obviously people can tell you that. But it seems like the ability to say “Okay, this may not be what you’re expecting, but here’s why it’s great,” is actually rare, but necessary skill.

One you may be hoping I possess in order to tell you about this book, but, no, not me.

7 thoughts on “John Scalzi’s REDSHIRTS

  1. I owe you a coke next time I see you. I have wanted to read this, was all set to read this, but the plethora of “what a sucky book” reviews on Goodreads gave me pause. By renewing my faith in Scalzi I think maybe you’ve just given me a good couple of hours. ;)

  2. This is not a shining example of critical skillz, but I liked it. I didn’t look at any of the reviews before I impulse Kindled it one night.

    Didn’t regret it. Fun, silly and yeah, oddly sweet.

  3. it seems like the ability to say “Okay, this may not be what you’re expecting, but here’s why it’s great,” is actually rare, but necessary skill.

    This is true.

  4. Coble, I think you’ll like it. All fancy words aside, it’s really entertaining, and Jess is right–fun, silly, and sweet.

  5. Haven’t read past the four free chapters yet. The first couple of chapters had me worried, but I like where he was going after that.

  6. I’m starting to think that sci-fi reviews are really hard to take without a grain of salt. That genre, more than others and especially anything to do with Star Trek, is one that so many people feel so proprietary about that the reviews are often tainted with a generous amount of envy.

  7. Well, and I think, too, that they seemed pissed that REDSHIRTS isn’t the genre they were prepared for. If we can call STAR TREK a space opera, they thought they were getting STAR TREK: THE MUSICAL.

    When, really, it’s a Tom Stoppard play.

    I thought that was brilliant and enjoyable. Some folks obviously feel like it’s “not fair” or something.

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