Monday, April 22, 2013

Audiobook Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi (Read by Wil Wheaton)

Redshirts by John Scalzi
Read by Wil Wheaton

Completion Date: March 13, 2013
Reason for Reading: Fun!
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory. 
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed. 
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
I constantly make a goal to listen to more audiobooks... And then I fail... In 2013 I decided I would try one more time and it has actually been successful so far! I decided to start with Redshirts because I have wanted to read it since it came out, Scalzi is a fun author, and Wil Wheaton narrated it. It was just a test. I joined Audible just to see how it went. I could cancel if it was a disaster. So far no disaster... I listen while I am on the treadmill and it seems to be working well so far. I think Redshirts was a nice, uncomplicated start to the experience. I got used to paying attention to what was being said and figured out the correct volume to hear over the treadmill. If I missed a line here or there it wasn't earth-shattering for the overall experience. Plus, I was right, Redshirts was a lot of fun!

John Scalzi is an author that I collect but then fail to read... I have only read Old Man's War so far. I enjoyed it, bought more books by him, and then never read him again. Redshirts has been on my list since it came out because I love science-fiction and enjoyed a book that essentially makes fun of the original Star Trek. While I was not a huge fan of that particular show, I am well aware of the 'formula' each episode followed and have to agree the writing was atrocious at times. Scalzi is not a bad writer, though, and created a fun addition to science-fiction. 

The novel centres around Andrew and his co-workers/friends. They are those that were recently assigned to the Intrepid. It doesn't take them long to discover that things go a bit strangely on this ship. There is that formula that I mention above... Quite simply, away missions always have crazy encounters, someone always dies, and it is always a low-ranking crew member while the main cast gets away fine. As a result people go to great extents to avoid joining away missions. It doesn't take Andrew and his friends long to follow suit. They just actually search for the truth behind their story and make startling discoveries. This leads to more adventures than they signed up for, some very bad science, and a bit of implausible over-acting. In other words, lots of fun for us the reader! If you haven't had a chance to read Scalzi this is an excellent start. He has a lot of fun with his books and I really need to read more...

Strongly recommended!

On the audio production: I had actually tried Wil Wheaton before with Ready Player One, but sadly didn't get to finish the audio and wound up switching to paper. I really enjoyed him, though, and knew I was going to have to try him again. I considered rereading Ready Player One, and likely will in the future, but in the meantime I decided to try something new. I really enjoy Wheaton's narration and actually picked up Fuzzy Nation, Agent to the Stars, and The Android's Dream which are all by Scalzi and all narrated by Wheaton. If you have a chance to listen to a book her narrates I strongly recommend it! 


  1. We read this when the book first came out and loved the meta-fictional aspect. Scalzi is always a lot of fun. Sometime when we're traveling I might have to look for this audiobook, since you like the way it's read.

  2. I've had this one in my iPod TBR for a while now. I couldn't actually remember why I selected the title in the first place (haven't read a Scalzi book before) but reading your review, now I remember! I'll definitely have to get to it soon.

  3. I've been meaning to try an audio book narrated by Wil Wheaton; I've heard nothing about good. I need to read this one.


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