Redshirts Reviews to Start Your Morning

Good morning! The Redshirts reviews are coming in more quickly now, which makes sense as we are less than a week away from release. Here are three new ones for you:

1. Alex Knapp of Forbes offers up a combo review of the book/interview with me. He “highly recommends” the book. And also, given Forbes’ business focus, offers up a separate article on How to Avoid Being a Redshirt on a Big Project.

2. Civilian Reader’s review of Redshirts (the first of two, apparently), uses adorable pictures of kittens and puppies. No, seriously, it does. And it is adorable.

3. As a general rule I don’t link to less-than-positive reviews of my work, because, you know, they’re not doing me any favors, so why give ’em the traffic. This less-than-positive Redshirts review, however, at least makes the effort to be amusing. And that’s worth a link.

23 Comments on “Redshirts Reviews to Start Your Morning”

  1. I’ll have to come back and read all these reviews after I read the book. I know that most don’t contain spoilers, but still…

  2. Seriously? Number 3 counts as a review? It reads more like an attempt to achieve the failure mode of smart…

  3. Rik:

    I thought it was cute, personally. But you point out the thing about humor: It doesn’t always work for everyone.

  4. “I find that Scalzi’s name works nearly as well to express frustration and anger over an injustice.”
    Now that’s funny. It just rolls off of the tongue!

    I wonder if Shatner could be enticed to re-do the scene and post to YouTube?

  5. Have to agree with Ric, thats not a review in any way, shape or form. Its an exerciser in mental masturbation that provides no insight into the book or the reviewers basis for his opinion. I have read books (seen movies or plays) based on bad reviews if the reviewer gives me enough information to understand why they didn’t like it. Let me add this works the other way as well I have avoided stuff based on good reviews that revealed enough information to let me see I wouldn’t like it. A good reviewer does not make up my mind for me, he gives me some information that allows me to make up my own mind.

    So this clown fails at humor, fails at reviewing and manages via his opening statement to make it appear as if the burr under his saddle is the “easy setting” note you wrote. I’ll let Don tell him what he didn’t win:
    That’s right, Al–You lost. And let me tell you what you didn’t win: a twenty volume set of the Encyclopedia International, a case of Turtle Wax, and a yeard’s supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco Treat. But that’s not all. You also made yourself look like a jerk in front of millions of people. You brought shame and disgrace to your family name for generations to come. You don’t get to come back tomorrow. You don’t even get a lousy copy of our home game. You’re a complete loser!

  6. 1) Forbes? With a business-focused companion article? Seriously? (Also, disturbing, because as I read it I started wondering if I should get a red dress shirt and a matching UU-themed tie for work.)

    2) Adorable!

    3) Meh. The Ricardo shtick got old, fast. Maybe the reviewer could get a job writing for SNL.

  7. @ Frankly:

    Oh, I dunno, I think you’re being overly harsh. Riffing on Rik’s comment, I think in this case the failure mode of “clever” was just “boring”.

  8. The third review was a review; it did give non-spoilery information which would help people know what to expect, especially if they had read Scalzi before and most SF people have at this point. I think it got in some clever digs without being particularly mean. Since I have not read the book, I cannot say if I agree with its assessment. If your worst reviews say a lot of people are going to eat this up, even if they won’t be particularly enlightened at the end of the day, then you are crying all the way to the bank. So I would venture to speculate that John is not particularly upset by this kind of thing.

  9. Frankly:

    “So this clown fails at humor, fails at reviewing and manages via his opening statement to make it appear as if the burr under his saddle is the ‘easy setting’ note you wrote.”

    With respect to the latter point, I think he was just riffing off of it for humorous intent rather than trying to use it as a vehicle for smacking back at me. At the very least that’s how I took it.

    Also, you know. Mileage will vary. I thought the review was fun, otherwise I wouldn’t have linked to it.

  10. At the risk of setting myself up for abuse, I would just first applaud John for having a sense of humor about it. I’ve been a big fan of some of his past work, and I’m sure I will be a fan of some of his future work. I’d also point out that I call it a “review”, not a review. Air quotes make everything ok.

    “With respect to the latter point, I think he was just riffing off of it for humorous intent rather than trying to use it as a vehicle for smacking back at me. At the very least that’s how I took it.”

    That sounds about right. If I were trying to make some existential point about Scalzi the man I would have done so with long paragraphs and lots of podium thumping. Likewise, had I wanted to write a criticism of the book, I would have pulled out quotes and broken down why I thought he made the choices he did.

    Instead, I just wanted to have fun with a book I read, but didn’t have all that much positive (or negative, truth be told) to say about. What I did have was a ton of material to have fun with, at the expense of a very visible internet figure. Done in good humor, and (it appears) taken as it was intended.

  11. While I found the third review to be pretty humorous — and let’s face it, humor is pretty subjective; some folks are going to eat Redshirts up, others aren’t; likewise for the review — what I find interesting is the ‘lowest difficulty setting’ rip. This comes off as someone who doesn’t “get it” and needs to be hit with a 101 bat (and certainly a few of their commentators need it)… but this (or, really, the comments section in his review) isn’t the place to do it. (Besides, ‘courageous’ to write a review about a book? On the Internet? Really? That’s someone’s definition of ‘courageous?’ Because I have a flaming building with a family of five trapped within that would like a word with that them….)

    I gotta admit. I got absolutely nothing from the review with the puppehs and kittehs… but that was one heck of a way to brighten up my morning. =D

  12. Noticed in the comments of the third review: a tendency to dis John’s work as ‘easy reading’, as though only difficult reading (whatevertf that is) will stand the test. One sure thing about John’s writing style and character: the reader (moi, anyway) knows they are in good hands, and can therefore sit back and pay attention to the intended story.

  13. Frankly: ” provides no insight into the book or the reviewers basis for his opinion. I have read books (seen movies or plays) based on bad reviews if the reviewer gives me enough information to understand why they didn’t like it.”

    He provides at least one reason why he doesn’t like it. “Scalzi just writes the same character over and over again with new names and places. In fact, I suspect he’s writing himself over and over again. Sarcastic. Cynical. Player of small instruments.”

    I haven’t read “Redshirts” yet (obviously), but that part rang of some truth for me. I did read “Old Man’s War”, and the review I wrote of it included not quite a dozen Gary Stu red flags about the protagonist in that story.

    John Perry’s personality is a *lot* like John Scalzi’s personality, at least as presented in public forums such as Whatever. Sarcastic. Cynical. Snarky. Is madly in love with his wife. Is a writer who lives in a small town in Ohio.

    I read the first three chapters of Fuzzy and the protagonist seems to be Sarcastic and Cynical. Apparently the protagonist of Red Shirts is similarly Sarcastic and Cynical. Which is fine if you like reading Sarcastic and Cynical. But apparently the guy who wrote #3 did not.

    I wasn’t bothered so much by Sarcastic and Cynical. And the similarities between John Perry and John Scalzi weren’t a negative for me, they were just…. distracting… like every time John Perry did something that I know has some similarity to John Scalzi, I would drop out of the reading fugue state and say something like “Hey! Scalzi lives in a small town in Ohio too!”.

    One thing that did bother me about Old Man’s War was when John Perry faced the horror of war, it took him all of ten pages to resolve his moral demons. And I’m not entirely sure Perry’s logic is actually sound. I would have rathered Perry not even question it, than to have questioned the moral significance of war only to shrug it off ten pages later.

    The other bit that bothered me was just the one-dimensionality of the combat scenese. Infantry with smart rifles. And the ships act as taxis for infantry with smart rifles. There is no sense of combat specializations. There were no heavy machine gunners, mortars, rockets, artillery, tanks, close air support, tactical air support, strategic air support. It was just infantry with smart guns. Made the combat scenes land flat for me.

  14. I enjoyed the 3rd review. It was funny and entertaining without being too pretentious. I’m obviously still buying and reading the book because I want to read it. Thanks for linking. If you can’t laugh at yourself a bit, life gets pretty dull. I doubt that review will do anything but make people curious about the book.

  15. I found the third review at least amusing, and it did explain what the reviewer’s beefs with Redshirts were, which was useful. What annoyed me more were the “me too”s that jumped on the negative review bandwagon without anything new and/or thoughtful to add. Although, y’know, snark on Teh Intarwebz, O NOES!

  16. Forbes reviewer needs to check his grammar- two misuses of the homophones they’re, their and there. Former english teacher knee-jerk reaction. :)

  17. re: John and “easy reading”, please, please, please don’t go there… Or he might decide to make his next target “The Name of the Rose”…

  18. I didn’t find the third review funny, but it rang true for me.
    I think Greg’s comment above summarizes quite nicely my opinion about our esteemed host’s fiction, and certainly I find his (Greg’s) review of “Old Man’s War” spot on. The two moments that threw me out in that (otherwise smart and entertaining) book were the not-quite-one-paragraph-long dissmissal of John’s old body, and the ten-page inner voyage from “I’m Godzilla” to “I’m OK with the war”. They made the character seem paper-thin. After the first few chapters of “Redshirts” I felt like reading the same character once again, and I was unable to continue. Which is a pity, really. But hey, it works for lots of people, so who am I to criticize?

  19. Gary McGath – I am a freelance writer, author of the books _Files that Last_ and _Tomorrow's Songs Today_, with a strong background in software development, file formats, and digital preservation.
    Gary McGath

    I must admit that at one point in the book I yelled “Scaaaaaalziiii” (almost inaudibly, since I was on a train and didn’t want to get thrown off), and that was even before I read the review everyone’s commenting on.

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