Redshirts (novel)

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Author John Scalzi
Country United States of America
Language English
Genre Comic science fiction
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
June 5, 2012
Pages 317
ISBN 978-0-7653-1699-8

Redshirts (originally titled Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas)[1] is a science fiction novel by John Scalzi. The book was published by Tor Books in June 2012.[2] The audiobook of the novel is narrated by Wil Wheaton.[3] The book won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel [4] and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.[5]

Plot summary[edit]

Ensign Andrew Dahl, newly assigned to the Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union, works in the xenobiology lab. However, upon receiving the chance to work with famed senior officers of the ship on "Away Missions" to dangerous planets, Dahl realizes that as a low-ranking crew member, he is very likely to be killed while on one of these missions.

He and the other new ensigns notice something weird about life aboard the Intrepid — on any away mission, at least one crew member dies. And each away mission seems to follow a bizarre set of rules. The crew of the Intrepid has become very superstitious and fearful about getting involved in the bridge crew's missions.

The ensigns get to know Lt. Kerensky, who is Russian, lecherous and constantly getting infected with diseases, beaten within an inch of life, or otherwise hurt — only to be totally fine a few days later. Lt. Kerensky winds up dating Ensign Duvall, one of the new ensigns. After meeting with a lost crewmember, the ensigns learn that they are characters in a TV show.

As the new ensigns understand their lot, the story is similar to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, where the story tells what happens when its characters find out they are not in the "real" storyline.[6]


The novel won the RT Reviewer's Choice Award for 2012,[7] the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel,[8] and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Forbes magazine praised the novel saying "You don’t have to be a hardcore sci-fi fan to enjoy Redshirts, though there are plenty of Easter Eggs for those who are. And the beauty of the book is that it works on multiple levels. If you’re looking for a breezy, fun read for the beach, this is your book. If you want to go down a level and read it as a surreal meditation on character and genre like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, this is your book."[9]

The book is being developed into a TV limited series on FX.[10]


  1. ^ NPR Staff (13 July 2012), 'Redshirts': Expendable Ensigns Get Their Own Story, Talk of the Nation, NPR (published 12 July 2012) 
  2. ^ "Redshirts A Novel with Three Codas". Macmillan. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Scalzi, John. "Redshirts Audiobook News + Tabletop". Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "2013 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Locus Online News » 2013 Locus Awards Winners". Locus. 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  6. ^ Schwartz, John (July 6, 2012). "The Extras Get a Life". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "RT - AWARD NOMINEES & WINNERS". Retrieved July 2013. 
  8. ^ "2013 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Knapp, Alex (2012-05-30). "John Scalzi's Redshirts Is A Great Tribute To The Unsung Grunts Of Science Fiction". Forbes. 
  10. ^ "Meta-'Star Trek' Novel 'Redshirts' Heads to TV - /Film". 2014-02-07. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 

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