Recent Reads: Redshirts

I’m way behind the curve on reading REDSHIRTS, but it is, as generally advertised, a fun book. It gets a little too caught up in its own cleverness, but mostly it works. I also presume it’s generally more fun to read if you’re a Star Trek fan, but since I am one, I can’t tell if it lacks if you’re not.

Aside from the presumption of more fun/sense if you’re a Star Trek fan, it has too many characters with similar names, which makes it hard to keep track if you’re not really dedicated to it, and I wasn’t. The only character whose name really stayed with me was a minor character called Weston, because it was clearly a mashup of Wesley Crusher and Wil Wheaton.

The answers about one of the characters were ellided, and while I took something away from it I don’t know if it was what I was supposed to and I’m annoyed to have been left with the question.

I’d read about how heartbreaking the codas were, and wasn’t heartbroken. The first one was entertaining in a way that broke the fourth wall much more jarringly than the rest of the book, the second was reasonably well done and the third was sweet in an entirely predictable way.

About the ellided character answer:

At one point in the book it’s suggested that EVERYONE in the book is … this is almost impossible to explain without sounding stupid, given that it’s a novel … anyway, it’s suggested that everyone in the book is fictional. Which, of course they are, it’s a book, see the problem here? But the point of the book is that the Redshirts are being yanked around and killed by somebody else’s narrative, so the meta here is that the suggestion is that even the characters who are supposed to be ‘real’ are also fictional.

And then there’s this one guy, Hanson, who is just kind of along for the ride. Everybody else has a Specific Role To Play, but, as it’s pointed out in the book, Hanson reminds people of things a few times and does some internet searches but that’s about all he does. And when he’s pressured about it he says “the answers wouldn’t make you happier,” or words to that effect.

I *gather* that what I’m supposed to take away here is that Hanson is not only the author of this bubble universe, but that he’s probably a fan fiction author who is writing a story about some Redshirts and has inserted himself into the story as a character. If that’s not the right interpretation I don’t know what is, and I’m irritated by that because it feels like Unnecessary Cleverness that Didn’t Work.

Also, I don’t know what pun it is that Dahl stopped Hanson from making.