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Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel
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Redshirts

Redshirts - I found out about REDSHIRTS through my father, who mysteriously knew about a book I didn’t. Then again, this is the same man who recommended DUNE to me, which turned out to be one of my favorite books of all time, so I shouldn’t take his recommendations lightly. My dad is a closet Trekkie, so I know well what a Redshirt is in the world of Star Trek. And everyone knows that the poor Redshirt dies. This book is about that phenomena, and it’s wildly hilarious, but there is just something missing…REDSHIRTS follows Andy Dahl, recently assigned to the starship Intrepid. Dahl quickly begins to realize that there is something peculiar about the ship’s away missions – the captain, the science officer, and other select crew members always live even despite apparently insurmountable odds while the poor ensign (or more) dies. But the truth about this strange phenomenon is stranger than the phenomenon itself.This is a laugh-out-loud type of book. In fact, for me, most of its laurels rest on the fact that it is a comedic book for geeks who have seen a few too many episodes of Star Trek. The poor Redshirt who is never really mentioned will be the first to die while Kirk and Spock and McCoy will randomly live even though they should be very, very dead. This entire story is cemented around one concept which is innately full of humor, and for the most part, it manages to carry the novel – even as the story takes a very strange, unexpected turn and becomes a very philosophical story. Oh, and it’s very meta.The characters are quite enjoyable, as is the plot. The writing is serviceable enough, although it was a bit disjointed and could have used some polish. It came off a bit dry, to be honest. Unbelievable. The transitions are awkward and the characters, while enjoyable as I said, do not have much substance. We know little about them, their personalities, and after awhile several began to blend together. For example, Hanson for me was just there. I don’t know anything about him after finishing the story. Even Dahl was somewhat dull. He was a priest in an alien religion, but that is the extent of what we find out about him really.The ending, as well, left me wanting more, but the laughter from the earlier parts made up for some of the slow parts.REDSHIRTS will appeal, in my opinion, mostly to geeks and nerds who are familiar with science fiction television. If you are not a geek, I think a lot of the nuances will go past you, since this one has a lot to do with science fiction television – in more ways than the synopsis will tell you. But be prepared for rather dry story to get to the buckets and buckets of laughs.VERDICT: Extremely humorous but belayed by a rather dry writing style, REDSHIRTS is one of those ultimate geek novels – it won’t appeal to everyone, but to those who enjoy science fiction, it will be quite enjoyable.