John Scalzi's new novel Redshirts starts from a a well-worn, but clever premise: what if the characters in a hackneyed genre story realized that they were trapped by the poor imagination of a hack writer? In Redshirts' case, the prisoners of destiny are the red-shirted ensigns assigned to the flagship of a galactic federation in a derivative, B-grade Star Trek knock-off, whose cohort dies in great number on every mission. The ensigns begin to suspect that something's amiss when they discover that all the ship's old hands run and hide every time the members of the first-shift bridge crew come by, and after a few grisly deaths from their number, they begin to work it out, with the aid of a reclusive bearded prophet who hides in the ship's maintenance corridors, and who believes that they have been trapped in something called "The Narrative" and has even worked out its rules.
The premise has been considered before, and Scalzi's handling of it is deft, likable, and funny without sacrificing suspense or characterization. But, this being a Scalzi novel, quickly transcends the mere conceit and begins to consider the existential, human implications for both the characters and the 21st century actors who portrayed them, and before you know it, we're off on a provocative and heart-tugging philosophical meta-novel.
Redshirts both realizes and transcends its premise, and is at once a tribute to, and a piss-take on, the best and worst that space opera has to offer. It's the sort of thing that science fiction is especially good at, and the sort of thing for which Scalzi is justifiably loved.
Ziya Tong is a veteran science reporter who spent years hosting Discovery's flagship science program, Daily Planet: it's the sort of job that gives you a very broad, interdisciplinary view of the sciences, and it shows in her debut book, The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World, […]
Wil Wheaton's 2017 standalone novelette Dead Trees Give No Shelter is a beautiful, spooky horror story in the vein of Stranger Things, following Jay Turner as he returns to the small Ohio town where his baby brother was murdered, 20 years before, to witness the execution of his killer.
I love Hugo and Nebula-Award winner Jo Walton's science fiction and fantasy novels (previously) and that's why it was such a treat to inaugurate my new gig as an LA Times book reviewer with a review of her latest novel, Lent, a fictionalized retelling of the live of Savonarola, who reformed the Florentine church in […]
Need to upgrade your sound? Bluetooth technology has never been better, but that’s not the only reason to look into a new set of speakers or headphones. We found ten pieces of audio gear that are already on sale, and you can take an additional 15% off the final price for Memorial Day weekend by […]
Trying to earn a promotion? Memorial Day weekend might be a good place to start. There are tons of e-learning packages that can help you build professional skills a lot quicker (and cheaper) than any technical academy. Whether you want to earn IT certifications, learn to code, become a designer, or anything else, these comprehensive […]
If you’re into tools or gadgets, Memorial Day weekend is your Christmas. Take an extra 15% off the final price of these DIY accessories – all of which are already on sale – by entering the promo code WEEKEND15. LUXJET Universal 24-in-1 Magnetic Screwdriver Set & Repair Kit This small but sturdy kit won the […]