Redshirts - John Scalzi Whacky, hilarious and a treat for Star Trek fans, since this book basically pokes fun at the original series in which various stock characters in red shirts tend to always die in the show. These throwaway deaths were frequently used to illustrate the danger of an episode's situation. However, while poor redshirts drop left and right like flies, main characters are often left unharmed or given means to overcome any injury.

This essentially gives us the basis of Redshirts. Our protagonist Ensign Andrew Dahl is thrilled to be assigned to the flagship Intrepid until he starts noticing the high mortality rate of low-ranked crew members who go on away missions. Meanwhile, Captain Abernathy, Chief Science Officer Q'eeng, and Lieutenant Kerensky always seem to manage to survive! Just what the hell is going on?

Be prepared for some mind-bending stuff. Very abstract. Very meta. While it may not be the most original concept, it's going to give you a lot of laughs.

But while humorous and a lot of fun to read, I can't say much for the writing. Here's the biggest thing that bugged me: Do a little experiment -- count how many times the word "said" is used in this book. As in, "Dahl said" or "Kerensky said" or "Duvall said", etc. It's in practically every paragraph, or whenever someone speaks! It might not have been so noticeable, if not for the fact I "audioread" this book. It is VERY obvious there. Given how much conversation is in this novel, listening to the audiobook version was a hair-tearing experience. It got so ridiculous I started to wonder if Scalzi didn't just do it on purpose to mess with his readers' heads. Or maybe he just needs to find another way to write conversation, or get himself a thesaurus?

On the bright side, I have to admit that the "he said/she said" thing went along well with Wil Wheaton's narration. Now don't get me wrong; while I like Wheaton, the guy just cannot do voices like the best of the professional audiobook narrators, and everyone sounded exactly the same. In a rare case of where two wrongs do make a right, having "he said/she said" always keeping track of who was talking actually ended up working out pretty well for me.

That said, while the main story was a good time, I think I might have actually enjoyed the three codas more. Aside from being better written, they also have more depth and meaning, and lends a bit of seriousness to the novel. By itself, I don't think I would have appreciated the main storyline as much.