Book Reviews

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas By John Scalzi


Meta and clever is the best way to describe this book. It pokes fun at itself while poking fun at the Star Trek universe. The first two thirds of the book reads like a mystery sci-fi thriller and after the big reveal a whole other story opens up. The last third of the book, where the story within a story gets told, gets ultra meta but in the context of the narrative the author did not lose me.

If you aren’t at least causally familiar with “Star Trek the Original Series” then you might want to skip this one as some of the tropes that are being lambasted are quite specific to the Trek Universe.

For example the basic premise of the book without spoilers is:

A young officer is off to a new assignment and from the the very first moment he notices small details that do not make sense. low level crew members keep dying at an alarming rate while the senior crew like the Captain, and science officer, among others, defy impossible odds on a regular basis.

This sounds like a description of a generic Captain Kirk adventure and that is what RedShirts is, but flip-flopped where the main focus is on the minor characters and they are fed up with the status quo. John Scalzi tells this story while at the same time he weaves an overarching plot that makes the book so much more.

I consumed this media via audiobook and the narration of Wil Wheaton was spot on.

Chocked full of wickedly funny scenes and situations that lampoon cheesy science fiction RedShirts is a fun read that does not disappoint.

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Book Reviews

The Long and Short of It: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book Nine

The Madness of St Mary’s

Buyer beware if you think this is a whole new book.

This is a collection of short stories and all but one has been released before.

As much as I love the novels I think that the short story format is wonderful for this series. It allows the inherent silliness that you have come to expect to shine through with out having to worry about dealing with the consequences of events for a whole novel.

If the novels are the meal then these little tidbits are the desert. Without the supporting universe they would be of little substance, but in the context of the whole they deliver a satisfying experience that gives us a little slice more of the world that we crave.

I also like the insights to events that were previously off stage. and how they affect the crew at St Mary’s. I like seeing Markum shine in the spotlight, I enjoy the Dr Whoish Christmas special, I like that familiar characters show up on the very first jump. This fills in the gaps nicely.  If you haven’t read the whole series then I would steer clear because spoilers abound.

I highly recommend this anthology as a temporary fix while you wait for the next installment. Brew a cup of tea, put your feet up, and enjoy your visit with favorite gang of historians and supporting cast.

Kindle

Book Reviews

Beyond the Shadows (Night Angel, #3)

I wanted to rate this book higher than 3 stars. I became attached to the characters but the story changed during the course of the series from small scope to epic scope. I feel like the author did not earn the ending that he gave it.  I am not bad mouthing Brent Weeks, I have read all the Lightbringer books and enjoyed them very much indeed, but I came to the Night Angel books after reading Mr. Weeks’ later books. He has since improved his story-craft.

 

This book is the conclusion to the trilogy  and I would have preferred a less video-gamey ending. 13 year-old me would have been ecstatic, but I am well past that point in my life and need more substance and less flashiness. The interactions in the book feel forced on occasion especially the romantic relationships. The unrequited love angle is played  to almost comic levels and character over reactions are the norm. Subtlety is not the story’s strong point.

For all that being said, The characters are likable and you do make a connection to them. The action is well written and filled with moments of levity. There were moments where

I thought Mr. Weeks really had nailed down some plot point or device only to spoil it in the next scene,  but that is just me quibbling.

I would recommend that you read this series before the LightBringer series, because it is a downgrade  and if your read these books first and hate them then I strongly suggest you give Brent another shot. He improves vastly with his later series.

 

Amazon

Book Reviews

Just One Damned Thing After Another: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book One (The Chronicles of St Mary’s 1)

Have you ever known someone with a personality so engaging that you overlooked their flaws? This book is that person to me.

Don’t mistake my meaning this book is extremely well crafted and the writing is top notch, but the focus is on the main protagonist, Max, and her interactions with the rest of the cast of characters. Ms. Taylor pulls this off perfectly

This isn’t a spoiler but this book involves time travel and it does create some plot holes, but it doesn’t matter. The tone and pacing of the books are incredible and if you happen to listen to the audio books  the narration is stellar.  Don’t get bogged down if some of the details are glossed over Enjoy the ride. Remember no one complained about the absurdity of Douglas Adams because it felt right.

I am an American who grew up watching, Are You Being Served?, on PBS. If you combine that show’s humor with the sense of adventure that you get with, Indiana Jones, adding a cup of tea to the mixture you will have the essence of this book.

Link to the Kindle edition