Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013 Hugo Award Winner: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Red Shirts by John Scalzi is the
2013 Hugo Award Winner for
Best Novel!
Book review by:
Sharon Powers.

    I am pleased to be reviewing for you today, a novel that recently won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, 2013. The Hugo Awards took place on August 29th through September 2, 2013 at LoneStarCon3, the 2013 World Science Fiction Convention, in San Antonio, Texas. At that time, the Best Novel Award went to John Scalzi for Red Shirts: A Novel with Three Codas. 

  Also at that time Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications) won the award for Best Novella for a wonderful novella entitled, The Emperor's Soul. I recently reviewed that novella for you and posted it on September 28, 2013.

     Other awards were given, so for more information about the work that garnered those awards (the Hugo Awards) here is a link to the official website: . OK, since I'm not doing a posting today, about the Hugo Awards, in general, let's get going with the review of Red Shirts: A Novel with Three Codas!

John Scalzi with his Hugo Award.
ABOUT THE AUTHORJohn Scalzi won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer in 2005. He also was nominated for the Hugo Award in 2006 for Old Man's War. Scalzi's novel, Old Man's War, was also a finalist for Best First Novel for the Locus Award. And, of course, this year Scalzi's best-selling novel, Red Shirts: A Novel with Three Codas won the Hugo Award for Best Novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Red Shirts is based on a premise utilized in the old Star Trek series in which characters who wore red shirts and went down to the planet as part of the "away team," were killed, usually early on in the episode. Since the Captain and main cast were needed from week-to-week, those who wore the red shirts were deemed to be "expendable," on and off screen. The characters in the Star Trek series were, seemingly, oblivious to their doom and faced their deaths with equanimity. Not so in John Scalzi's fictional world....
Red Shirts characters are expendable.
    So, as the book opens we meet Ensign Andrew Dahl, our pro- tagonist, newly assign- ed to the Universal Union Capital Ship, Intrepid (versus the Star Trek version, the Federation Starship Enterprise). Dahl is proud that his first assignment is a pres- tigious one, to work in the Xenobiology labor- atory on the Intrepid. Work done by others in the Intrepid's Xenobiology lab has not been able to be duplicated in any other lab. Dahl is anxious to jump in and learn how the lab gets the successful results that they do.

     Dahl begins to experience some strange things and meets people who are acting bizarrely. Dahl is warned to stay off the bridge because if he doesn't he'll be dead. Then there's the talk about all the accidents that happen to red-shirted away team members. After Dahl's first away team mission, and the loss of four red-shirted crewmen, he confronts a fellow lab worker and points out that whenever the Commander shows up the other lab workers disappear...Dahl realizes "...there's something very wrong with this ship." [Kindle Loc. 866)

Red Shirt Ensign will die soon because he's part of the
away team on a strange new planet.
     Dahl keeps his eyes and ears open and learns that everyone in red shirt territory goes to all lengths to avoid being assigned to an away mission. And then he learns a shocking secret that could change the lives of all the Intrepid's crew. . . if he has the nerve . . . and the good-luck to pull it off . . . and maybe, yeah, maybe a kidnapping along the way.

     John Scalzi has created a fictional world that is both a parody of an earlier cheesy sci-fi world and one that morphs into something more surprising, intricate and involved. This turning comes as the book's characters decide to rebel against their scripted fate and to fight for a life that has "real meaning."

     The book through its characters attempt to address the meaning of life and its value, and the ways in which the characters deal with loss cuts through all the parody and silliness to reveal a reality in which the characters strive to "make sense of it all." Real sacrifice, real heroes, real life. It isn't that Scalzi does an about face, it's more like he takes the scales off the eyes or let's the fog of illusion fade away. The reality with which the characters are left is one they have fought to obtain, one in which they hunger to live. Scalzi's crafting of this fictional world really left me thinking--not about the silly red shirt thing, or alternate universes, but about choices in life. Well done, John Scalzi.


     I found this an easy book to rate, maybe not always so easy to understand, but easy to rate. The book easily earned a four out of five star rating. And yes, I think it probably did deserve to garner the prestigious Hugo Award for 2013. I have to tell you, I did enjoy reading the book. I hope you do, too.

4 stars out of 5.

My rating is 4.0 Stars out of 5.

Other Ratings:
3.7 out of 5 Stars: Amazon (583 Reviewers)
3.81 out of 5 Stars: Goodreads (18, 159 Reviewers)

About this book:
Pages: 318
ISBN: 0765316994
Publisher: Tor Books
Sold by: Macmillan

Just for fun--here's a little trailer about red shirts from YouTube; please enjoy!

Thank you for taking time to read my post on my blog. If you enjoyed it, please share.

Until next time...

White Rose.

...many happy pages of reading!


_______________________________________________ - Red Shirts hard cover image; - Hugo Awards Official site; - Link to the official Hugo Awards website; - Photo of John Scalzi with his Hugo Award; - Star Trek Series; - Red Shirt Cartoon; - Red Shirt's are expendable; - John Scalzi with his Hugo Award; - Think Geek Red Shirt; - Four Stars out of Five; - Amazon Reviews; - Goodreads Reviews; - YouTube: Red Shirt; - White Rose.