cover image Redshirts


John Scalzi. Tor, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-1699-8

In a world where junior starship officers inevitably and dramatically die on planetside missions—a problem any Star Trek fan will be familiar with—ensign Andrew Dahl joins the crew of the Universal Union ship Intrepid, the pride of the fleet, and quickly realizes his life is at risk. As Dahl’s fellow officers drop like flies and backstab each other to escape away duty, he decides to figure out exactly what’s going on. The first third of the book is a darkly comic romp, skewering common plot holes and lazy genre conventions while making the reader eager for the ingenious reason for the “coincidental” deaths. Sadly, and all too soon, Scalzi reveals an explanation that neither surprises nor satisfies. The rest of the book is increasingly strange and unfunny as Dahl breaks the fourth wall to demand answers. Scalzi explores life among the doomed redshirts with ingeniously morbid glee, but that’s not enough to save the story from collapsing in on itself. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Agency. (June)