Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Redshirts is a novel, written by John Scalzi, which relates the experiences of Ensign Andrew Dahl aboard the UUCS Intrepid. While initially thrilled to be assigned to the flagship of the fleet, Dahl very soon finds out that something is amiss; junior officers tend to die in droves when on away missions with any of the five senior command officers, while firmly established scientific laws and principles are thrown overboard in a nonsensical manner in tense situations involving the senior officer staff. While investigating, Dahl and his junior officer friends discover that they have landed in an alternate timeline, where they are subjected to the whims of script writers of an ancient, particularly badly written, Earth science fiction television series, which in turn was plagiarized from an even more ancient television series, called Star Trek.


From the 1st hardcover edition jacket,
"Advance praise for Redshirts
"Redshirts is (a) ruin-your-underwear funny, (b) a mind-bender sure to Philip K. Dick you over, and (c) absurdly rich in ideas and feeling. John Scalzi sets his imagination to STUN and scores a direct hit. Read on and prosper.- Joe Hill, New York Times-bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box.
"I can honestly say I can't think of another book that ever made me laugh this much. Ever. - Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind.
"Laugh-out-loud funny, and a wonderful romp. You can trust me on this–I've killed my share of redshirts. - Melinda Snodgrass, story editor for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
"Scalzi takes apart the whole Star Trek universe and puts it back together far more plausibly--and a lot funnier too. - Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians.
From the 1st UK paperback edition backcover,
"Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the flagship Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid. It’s a prestige posting, and life couldn’t be better...although there are a few strange things going on...
  • every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces
  • the ship's captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations
  • at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
"Suddenly it's less surprising how much energy is expended below decks on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned an Away Mission. Andrew's fate may have been sealed...until he stumbles on a piece of information that changes everything, and offers him and his fellow redshirts a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives..."

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.

Background information

  • The novel, brimming with other Star Trek references as well, was primarily an overtly tongue-in-cheek written reference to the culturally established redshirt phenomenon, emphasized by its title and cover illustration, popularized by Star Trek: The Original Series. Scalzi's five major senior officers in the novel were modeled in behavior and depiction after the five major officers as featured in the Original Series.
  • Dahl's ship, the UUCS Intrepid, was an equally tongue-in-cheek reference to its Original Series counterpart, the USS Intrepid (NCC-1631), which had met with a fate as dismal as any that befell whatever redshirt, in that series' second season episode "The Immunity Syndrome".
  • The book was generally well received by its readership to such an extent, that it had garnered its author the 2013 Hugo Award in the category of Best Novel.
  • The audio book versions were narrated by Star Trek's Wesley Crusher performer Wil Wheaton.
  • The 2015 hardcover edition was intended for the visually impaired and presented in large print.
  • In story line and structure, the novel is reminiscent of the Star Trek: The Next Generation season seven episode "Lower Decks".
  • During a book signing at the Burbank Public Library, Scalzi and Wheaton acted out a sketch in which Wheaton is a labor lawyer with the law firm of Koenig, Nichols, and Montalban suing the Universal Union (the novel's version of the United Federation of Planets) over all the redshirt deaths and other various violations, including how the captain of a deliberately unidentified starship was allowing a child to fly the ship. [1]
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