Redshirts by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Like many others, I was first turned onto John Scalzi through Old Man’s War, which I consider to be one of my favorite science fiction novels. Since reading that, I resolved to read more Scalzi and, although some time passed, I finally got my hands on Redshirts.
Redshirts is little hard to describe. It’s essentially a novel that follows the nameless extras of a fiction cheesy sci-fi tv show called Intrepid. However, you can’t help but think about Star Trek as you read the novel.
At first, Scalzi plays that concept for all the humor that it’s worth and, trust me, it’s good for more than a few laughs. But it’s also so much more than that. After the comedic value has run its course, the plot takes a left turn and the novel becomes something totally different and so completely meta that it’s almost absurd. But that’s also when it get’s really good too.
It’s hard to go into more detail without giving away key plot points, but adventures ensue and the story gets not one, but three endings, each told from a different point of view.
Overall, I thought Redshirts was a really cool novel. It probably won’t go down as one of my favorites, but I still enjoyed it considerably and would recommend it to any sci-fi fan, but especially Star Trek fans.
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi was the first book that I downloaded with my Audible subscription as I had heard from various sources (including the Sword and Laser podcast) that it was a great read. I have to say that, after reading the novel, I agree wholeheartedly. Old Man’s War was one of the best novels that I’ve read all year. I would even go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite science fiction novels period.
From the start, I really got a kick out of the conceit of the story. In some future United States, elderly people are recruited to enlist and serve in the intergalactic military. With so many novels following a young protagonist (even many adult novels), I found it to be a very refreshing experience to read a novel where the main character was 75 years old.
In addition to that, I really enjoyed Scalzi’s writing style. It had just right combination of dry wit and cynicism to really resonate with me. I should also extend that compliment to William Dufris, the narrator of the audio version that I listened to. I thought he did an excellent job. His tone was perfect for the main characters of the novel.
I don’t want to give anything away in my review so I won’t go into too much detail about the plot, but I really did enjoy the story line a great deal as well. The novel is very much a military story filled with battles and typical military life. In that way, it reminded me of Joe Haldeman’s Forever War, but what I liked about Old Man’s War was a bit lighter and more fun.
The novel really roped me and I had a lot of fun listening to it. In fact, I tended to listen on my iPod while running, giving me the perfect excuse to exercise regularly.
Overall, I really enjoyed the novel and I would recommend it to any science fiction reader.
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