Contented Reader

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John Scalzi


I’ve been waiting to read this book for such a very, very long time!

I went to see John Scalzi at Joseph-Beth, when he was touring to promote Fuzzy Nation.  I didn’t buy a copy of Fuzzy Nation that night, of course.  Hardcover books are expensive.  I brought my copy of Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded for him to sign, instead.  I’d never seen Scalzi in person before.  He’s so much fun at a reading!  He really treats the occasion as a performance, and makes a real effort to entertain the audience.

At that signing, which was more than a year ago, instead of reading from Fuzzy Nation, he read the prologue of Redshirts.  The book didn’t have a firm title at that time, and he swore the audience to secrecy regarding its contents.  I think he may have been concerned that Paramount would have some objection to a Star Trek parody.  I don’t think he can have been very concerned, though.  Parody’s legality is well established, and if I know that, John Scalzi certainly does, because he’s way smarter than I am.

I actually kept my promise of secrecy, too.  Didn’t even tell my nerdiest friends that Scalzi was writing a book about the lives of the ill-fated extras in the red shirts, predestined by the needs of the plot to die in every episode.

This year, Scalzi came back to Cincinnati, touring with Redshirts.  No, of course I didn’t buy it.  Hardcover books haven’t gotten any cheaper, you know.  I bought Fuzzy Nation, in paperback, and Scalzi signed it for me.

And this week, my copy finally came in at the public library, and I read it in a day.  The joke of the book is obvious in the title.  I sort of felt like to read the title was to be able to write the whole story in my head.  But I was wrong.  Redshirts gets meta and then metameta, in ways that surprised and delighted me.  It was funny, with lots of insider jabs at science fiction in general and sloppily-written television science fiction in particular.  But there has to be more to a novel than an extended joke, doesn’t there?  So in addition to snorting-milk-out-of-my-nose funny bits, there are also a few genuine characters, and an actual theme, too, regarding what it is to seize control of one’s own life.

I was about to say, next year, when Scalzi comes back to Cincinnati to promote The Human Division, maybe I’ll buy myself a paperback copy of Redshirts.  But then I remembered: My Princess came with me, and she bought a copy.  In hardcover.  I hope that a day may come when she will join her library with mine, so I guess I don’t need to buy a copy at all.


Written by Contented Reader

July 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Posted in Reviews


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