Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What I Read: Redshirts

Quite a neat coincidence, considering the inauguration of my Trek Thursday posts, that my most recent read is John Scalzi's Redshirts. It starts as an affectionate parody of everyone's favorite science fiction series, then quickly escalates into much more than that. It's a quick read—a member of my "One-Sit Reading" club, up there with The Crying of Lot 49 and The Painted Bird. I laughed out loud and read protracted excerpts to JV while I was reading because I simply could not wait for him to read it so he could enjoy them himself.

This is also the first book by John Scalzi that I've ever read, though I've heard of him before. Indeed, I've long appreciated his voice on the Internet when it comes to social issues I care about. I'm glad I finally had the chance to check out his fiction.

 I always have a hard time separating the artist from the work, truth be told—people like Orson Scott Card are so odious to me that it prevents me from enjoying their work. I realize such a separation is necessary for literary interpretation and valuing of works, but well, let's be honest: popular science fiction literature isn't about ~*~art~*~ and its interpretation, it's about storytelling and making a living. When the person is alive and well and influential and making a living off of their art, things are different. I am far more likely to give my money and attention to people who have demonstrated that they are thoughtful and empathetic individuals. I'm also more likely to "root" for them as writers, as it were, and to hope that their writing is good.

Was Redshirts perfect? No; there were some stylistic things I'd change (so many unnecessary dialog tags!) and I'm not sure how I feel about the epilogues. There are three epilogues, you see, all dealing with the ramifications of the plot's climax. I think the first epilogue is great conceptually, though its format as a series of blog posts isn't how I would have written it. The other two epilogues, for me, didn't add anything to the story, but I didn't mind reading them, either, so no net gain or loss. On the whole, Redshirts was a smart, hilarious book and deserving of all the critical claim it's garnered.  I'll be looking for more of Scalzi's books in future bookstore visits.

Speaking of redshirts:

Doomed Redshirt cross-stitch from aliciawatkins on Etsy

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