Author: John Scalzi
After reading All Clear, this was the perfect pick-me-up. Smart, genre-savvy, self-aware, and not taking itself too seriously, Redshirts isn't going to tax your grey matter, but it'll certainly put a smile on your face.
And it's not really meant to be anything too substantial. It's clear that Scalzi is having boatloads of fun with this novel. I've seen a lot of parodies on the Redshirt trope, but this one took the cake, and probably because Scalzi clearly loves Star Trek.
I honestly think it's not possible to write a super good parody of something if you're not a fan. I've seen so many people try to do a scathing parody of a genre because they don't like it, and they end up missing the mark. I guess it takes a bit of cultural appreciation, as well as a bit of understanding that for the most part, the things you love aren't perfect.
Redshirts is the story of a group of new ensigns on the flagship of the Universal Union. They quickly find out that life on the flagship is fucked. People are dying left and right, and in some pretty bizarre ways. The story follows them figuring out why this is happening, and their attempts to put a stop to it.
There's some good commentary in here on bad writing (and bad science) in science fiction. Some great remarks about using genre as an excuse. And some fun meta time.
Once the book is over, though, Scalzi gets a bit more of a serious tone. The three coda at the end don't have the same campy feel as the rest of the book, nor did I feel they should. While I didn't find them as entertaining as the novel proper, they did certainly add something.
Next time you're looking for a fun, easy read to take your mind off of things, I highly recommend Redshirts.