As a preface to this review, I will point out
that if you are happy to read books in electronic form, it might well pay you to sign up
as a supporting member of the WorldCon. Youll get five each of novels, novellas and
so on, delivered to you in your voting packet. Theyve all got through the Hugo
nomination process, which means theyve been chosen by fans as the best of the
previous years SF&F. And, of course, youll get to vote on the Hugos. What
more can you ask for?
As it happens, I voted for Redshirts and it did
in fact win the Hugo for Best Novel. However, I will admit that I hadnt actually had
time to read the whole thing before voting just the first chapter or so. That was
enough to convince me that this was the deserving novel - clever, funny and a witty satire
on a certain TV space opera. But, as I read further, I realised that its a whole lot
more than that. Its about the relationship between reality and fiction, and puts a
whole new and decidedly science fictional twist on breaking the fourth wall.
Yes, at times it does seem a bit contrived, and as if Scalzi is trying
just a bit too hard, but he can be forgiven for that in the sheer exuberance of writing
something innovative and unlikely to be ever copied.