Enjoying his assignment with the xenobiology lab on board the prestigious Intrepid, ensign Andrew Dahl worries about casualties suffered by low-ranking officers during away missions before making a shocking discovery about the starship's actual purpose.
I think I read this in 24 hours... maybe 36 if I'm not remembering it well. It's fast and light... and absolutely hysterical. A geeky version of a total beach read. It's cotton candy for the SF reader, with in-joke after in-joke that tickled me completely.
It might be that you have to have watched a lot of Star Trek and other SF shows, as well as be the kind of person who really liked Mystery Science Theater 3000, to enjoy this book to its fullest. But this book is *meant* to be self-referential to all of these things, and Scalzi does them brilliantly.
(The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because, as much as I loved it, in the end it is just too fluffy to qualify for that high bar.)
Any Trekkie would recognize the significance of the title: ever notice that the landing party is Kirk, Spock, Bones, and some ensign in a red uniform that you've never seen before? Guess which three are going to make it back and which one isn't... You're led to believe, really, that you're reading a parody of Trek, from the perspective of poor Ensign Redshirt, and a handful of his colleagues who have noticed a certain pattern. You are. And then at some point you realize you're also reading a book about what it means to be human....and I have to say that the third "coda" brought a tear to my eyes. Highly recommended.
What if you could recognize the hidden rules your reality is ruled by? What if you noticed that the new guy always dies? And, what if you could get the attention of the writer responsible for your predicament? A funny and sometimes poignant look at personal agency, and what it means to be autonomous or not. Highly recommended for even the most casual Star Trek or SF fan. If you enjoyed Galaxy Quest even a little bit, you should read this book.
I recently finished this book and it turned out to be a lot better than I had thought it would be. Looking at the book and reading the description, I thought for sure it would just be one really long Star Trek joke, but it ended up being a lot more, to the point that it kept me wanting to read what was next!