Saturday, July 7, 2012

Glad not to be a redshirt

John Scalzi cracks me up on his blog Whatever, frequently.  His newest novel Redshirts had the same effect.  I'm not sure if I should call it a satire, but it's more than a parody.  It's definitely a darkly comic work built around what would happen if the poor red-uniformed schmucks who died with idiocy and frequency on the original Star Trek series realized that something was screwy and tried to do something about it.  As someone who has never seen all of the original Star Trek series (or any of it recently), I wondered if it would be something I would be able to enjoy.  I've read quite a bit of science fiction and have liked the other Scalzi novels I've read (and have resonated with his sense of humor), so I figured I was in safe hands.  I was.

One of my favorite things about the Scalziverses is that John Scalzi leaves room for God in his books.  He is not a believer (he has spoken at length and very well about these topics on his blog), but he doesn't think all faith and religion will go away in the super-advanced, all-science worlds of the future, and he doesn't think or write as if all people who believe in God are stupid.  I appreciate this because his politeness on the topic is not universal in speculative fiction these days.  In fact, it seems kind of rare for authors to leave any room for God or faith in their books.  More frequently, I see anti-theism and bitterness or nihilism or science explains it all and no room or time for any higher power's existence even to be speculated about worlds.  I much prefer ones where I can feel un-hated  and not completely marginalized as a person of faith.

Pretty much everything I could say about the story itself would be a spoiler.  This is unfortunate.  If you go to his blog, he has some links to reviews (with cautions about the ones with spoilers).  You'll figure out if you're likely to enjoy his sense of humor based on posts like this one in which he says, "As part of my continuing mission to remind authors and other creative people that there is nothing they will ever create that will be universally loved, here are some choice comments from one-star reviews of Redshirts, my current, fastest-selling and in many ways most enthusiastically received book."

And if he's not your cup of tea, he wants you to know that's okay.  You don't have to read his books if you don't resonate with his sense of humor.  ". . . why would you do that to yourself? Life is often unpleasant enough without choosing to fill your recreational hours pursuing a book from an author with whom ample previous readings have shown you have little rapport."

Anyway, after reading this book, I found myself happy that when our division got matching red polo shirts last year, our secretary short ordered and gave mine to someone else while I was on vacation.  There are many days when someone in the department is wearing theirs.  Since I read this book, whenever I see someone wearing one, it makes me snicker.  Thanks, Mr. Scalzi.  Now I know whey the engineers asked for orange.  Must not have been any geeks on the color-choice selection committee for our division . . .

So when's the TV show going into production?

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