26 June 2017

Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Trade paperback, 317 pages
Published 2013 (originally 2012)

Acquired December 2015
Read September 2016
Redshirts by John Scalzi

This book has some great concepts. I mean, the fundamental metafictional premise doesn't feel terribly new to me, but Scalzi puts some interesting spins on it: there are permutations of the basic ideas that I had not seen before, and Scalzi clearly had fun with exploring the logic of the underlying ideas. That was what I really enjoyed, and I even laughed a couple times.

But the characters aren't really characters. They're just flat interchangeable cutouts who speak entirely in quips, like they've just walked off the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or a Marvel superhero film. As a result, it's impossible to become emotionally attached to any of them. It's like Scalzi wrote the book as a film script, not a novel, assuming actors would give the characters the distinct personalities they lack on the page. It's especially egregious because there's supposed to be a contrast between the ways the characters act normally and how they act under the control of the Narrative, but they're so generically written normally, the contrast only exists because some characters say it exists. It makes the whole book a somewhat dull read.

Also: I'm not sure Scalzi actually knows what the word "extra" means.

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly why I didn't care for Old Man's War. Interesting concepts, terribly dull characters.