Redshirts One Week In

It’s chugging along very nicely as far as I can tell. I don’t yet have any actual numbers to report, but it’s been in Amazon’s top ten for science fiction for the whole week (both in physical and eBook versions) and the audiobook has been in’s top ten of all titles since it came out. The turnout for the tour events so far has also been heartening too, and the people who have been showing up to the events have been making booksellers happy by buying books at the stores, so thank you for that, folks. I appreciate you supporting the stores who have given space to me.

So far the reader response has been roughly 90% positive, and 10% deeply annoyed. To that ten percent: Sorry, guys. No one hits your happy spot every time. To the ninety percent: Really glad you’ve liked it.

If you did like it, I hope you’ll suggest it to your friends and folks you know. Tor has been doing a bang-up job promoting this book (he said, from the middle of a month-long book tour), but when it comes right down to it what makes a difference is people telling people about a book they really enjoyed. So, please, consider doing that.

And now, off for a plane to Los Angeles, and then to Pasadena with me.

46 Comments on “Redshirts One Week In”

  1. Only one point of critique: it’s too short. Would have loved more of it ;-).

  2. I’m planning to read it very soon. Should be a nice relief from the excellent but complex Malazan series which I have just gotten into. I think some of those 1-2 star reviewers expected a really serious book. But guys…”Redshirts”!
    What’s the saying? “Exactly what it says on the tin”? I have stayed away from plot points as much as possible but with a title like that, come on. You know it’s not going to be quite like the OMW universe.

  3. Having listened to the whole audiobook, first: The codas were PERFECT. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from them, but it wasn’t THAT, and I’m glad.

    I guess technically that’s “last.”

    The book stands nicely alone, and people asking for sequels or more in that universe are, in my regretful opinion, missing the point. Just about the only thing I’d be willing to see by way of an extension would be . . . a spoiler, so I’ll refrain from posting that idea. But it would be utterly meta.

  4. After finishing the ‘main’ portion of the book, I was ready to conclude that “Redshirts” was a very enjoyable romp and a fun diversion. After finishing the three ‘codas,’ however, I realized that “Redshirts” was much more than that.

  5. To be fair to those negative reviewers, I can see their points. Now, having given them their due, I read the book and enjoyed the hell out of it. I thought the three codas gave the book depth and emotion that, to some extent, might have been missing. I also thought, among other things, that there’s something significant being said for writers of all stripes in this book, and I for one am trying to take that message seriously. But, the characterization isn’t the strongest here, and there is some puzzlement as to what you’re getting at regarding the “extraneous” character. But I still enjoyed the hell out of it.

  6. Bought Redshirts and loved it. Also, your “straight white male” blog made the circles of progressives and I had the pleasure of telling them what a great sci-fi writer you are. Those of us on the left don’t read much sci-fi as a rule. Keep up the great work. You are one of the planet’s more interesting people.

  7. The only annoying thing about Redshirts is that the Chapters/Indigo in my area (Niagara Region) hasn’t recieved any of the five copies it was supposed to. I had been hoping to pick up a copy on my way home from work last week, tried on Tuesday, wasn’t in, tried on Thursday, wasn’t in, tried on Sunday when I was out grocery shopping, wasn’t in. At this point I may wait and do an online order later when I have a few things I want to buy or if I’m up in Toronto and hit The World’s Biggest Bookstore and if they have a copy. Very annoying as I’ve been looking forward to it and wanted to actually patronize a brick and mortar store.

  8. Read it, loved it, and, like Fuzzy Nation last year I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know for their summer beach reading.

    On a more personal note, Redshirts was a book that I needed to read right now. I’ve been under/un-employed for almost two years, and I’ve been struggling with who I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to do, and “What it All Means”(TM). That’s probably why Coda 2 made me cry, but also gave me hope and motivation. “Avoid the Narrative!” is my new battle cry. You can’t know how much Redshirts means to me. Thank you.

  9. I loved your book. As a longtime Star Trek viewer this hit home on so many levels. Great job and I am looking forward to more titles from you in the future!

  10. @duskfire: I’m only about 1/3 the way through, but yes, I thought the “rational people in a crazy, ‘tv tropes’ infested irrational setting’ aspect was delicious.

    Remains to be seen whether I love the ending, or am deeply annoyed, but it puts me in a good mood at bedtime to sit down with so far.

  11. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m about halfway through it and think it’s great so far.

  12. Picked it up at your reading in Wheeling on Sunday (thanks for signing!), read it all that evening. Except the codas; I read those the next day.

    So yeah, I was not in that 10%, let’s just leave it at that.

  13. Because I live in the far hinterlands, I went the Amazon route. Earliest delivery will be Friday. And damn those bastards – earliest delivery of my new Rush CD will be MONDAY!

  14. 90/10 isn’t at all bad. It seems like you were taking a clever underlying conceit, and deliberately pushing clever as far as you could without breaking it and ending up “too clever by half”. That’s actually very ballsy. Since everyone has a slightly different opinion on where that line is, the book was bound to cross it for some portion of the readers.

  15. John – Two great friends of mine attended your Dayton signing at Books & Co & bought two copies – one for them, and one for me. Having just recently moved to Florida, I was not going to be able to add an autographed copy of this book to my Scalzi autographed books collection. They knew I was looking forward to getting the book, and bought one for me, which you signed.

    To answer your question, no, I don’t like the book, I love it. I have been looking forward to ‘Redshirts; since you read a little of it during the ‘Fuzzy Nation’ book signing at Books & Co last year on your birthday. I’m recommending ‘Redshirts’ to everyone I meet here in Florida. Maybe if we get enough sales in the Sunshine State, your publisher will have you stop somewhere down here on your next book tour. (Tampa would be nice) Good luck on the rest of the tour! Hope you sell LOTS of copies, and make the NYT bestseller list again!

  16. From one of the one-star reviews on the page John linked:
    “The only good thing I can say about it is that it is criminally short”

    So in other words, someone actually brought to life the old joke, “The food here is terrible and the portions are small too.”

    That should be a badge of honor.
    I’m looking forward to starting Red Shirts on audio as soon as I finish what is now playing.

  17. I haven’t read the book yet but I want to commend you on your publicity. I’ve enjoyed the creativity with which you’ve pre-nudged each city you’ve visited. In some one else’s hands, or should I say words, it might have been annoying but I loved your unique message for each city. If this is an indication of your writing skills, bring on Redshirts! Outta my way!

  18. Long time but infrequent blog reader, looking forward to reading my first Scalzi fiction. I ordered Redshirts yesterday from my local independent bookstore here in the beautiful East San Francisco Bay Area town of Hayward. This shop typically can get special orders for me within a few days, but in this case said it wouldn’t arrive until the first week of July. (I don’t recall details, but the shop owner Carl something about the book having to go from one warehouse to another before being shipped to the store. God bless free enterprise.) I ordered it anyway — gotta keep these independents alive — but wanted you to know about the lead times. YMMV.

  19. Nooked the book on the first day, read it on the second day. Sometimes being able to read @ 600 to 700 words per minute kinda sucks. Loved it!

  20. I… hmm. Uh. I didn’t *hate* it, but I didn’t *love* it. Better than some other things I’ve been reading lately, though, so… hell, I’m not helpful, am I?

  21. Even the negative reviews were still pretty respectful. I want to see some straight out and out book bashing!

  22. RonKuby: “those of us on the left don’t read much SciFi as a rule”…really? I think you might be on a different “left” than me and the vast majority of my friends. Really.

  23. “Even the negative reviews were still pretty respectful. I want to see some straight out and out book bashing!”
    If it was that bad, would one even finish it? I certainly didn’t enjoy it much after the plot twist, but you know, at the end of the day even if I feel it failed to accomplish much for me, I’m only out 300 pages of reading (and the original concept appealed to me enough I wanted to see it through). Certainly if I personally felt it was totally devoid of value I’d not finish it or have any interest in giving the world feedback. (Note, I might be hyperbolically negative when discussing the book with friends, because that’s how we do.)

    Next up: Rewatch Galaxy Quest.

  24. Toronto has been a mess as far at trying to find your book in a flesh & blood store. I had to resort to ordering from Chapters/Indigo. although I did stumble across an edited compilation book of yours Meta-tropolis (?) I think it was called. A silver lining to a failed attempt in 4 separate big box book stores in Toronto, Mississauga, Markham areas. I look forward to reading it once it arrives.

  25. I’ve also had problem’s finding Redshirts in any of the Chapters/Indigo in Calgary or Edmonton. They keep saying that the books are ordered but they have not arrived yet. I’ve also resorted to ordering the book online through Chapters/Indigo.

  26. I’ve just finished this, I was setting myself up to be less than happy with the book based upon a couple of negative reviews I’d read (note to self- stop reading reviews before reading a book). I was pleasantly surprised – the “novella”/ main portion of the story was pretty good and could stand on its own – the codas ELEVATE the entire work – meta meta meta indeed – typical scifi/ lighthearted parody/ poke at tired tropes this is not, this is literature. I think I’ll need to re-read it as I’m pretty sure that there are some “I see what you did there” moments that I missed. Also a common thread among negative reviewers – they all seemed to have missed the same nuance/theme. (also meta). I’d love to go into more detail, but I’m not clever enough to express a few of my thoughts/ask a few questions without sprinking spoilers – so I’ll do that on a different forum. If you heven’t read REDSHIRTS yet – your in for a treat – you’ll want to read it quickly, resist, enjoy the ride- the joy is the journey not just the destimnation, also meta meta meta

  27. must remember also to use preview/correct spelling grammer before hitting “post”

  28. I just finished it earlier today. Great fun! My wife is going to enjoy it too.

    Problem though: Both my wife and I are really fast readers, so are constantly on the search for grand epics that will take some time to consume (having a limited budget for books, and having largely exhausted the local science fiction options in the library). I have a selfish request: Please write something, in three volumes, each roughly 150-200,000 words.

    In return for giving you this great idea for something new to try, please feel free to use my names (all three of them) for characters that you kill off.
    Perhaps in the stomach of some nasty beast.
    Or a million paper cuts.

    I look forward to it.

  29. Going to buy the digital copy soon. For those in the Toronto area I know Waterloo is a bit of a drive but the Chapters on King St. has copies :)

  30. BTW I’ve read it twice and loved it. Reading the codas and then re-reading the main part shifted my perspective on a few things.

  31. This is definitely the wrong forum to post this on but for lack of any other venue. I really really want to give you money for your book in electronic format. In fact, DRM-free is a bonus but really I’ll be reading it on my iPad so I don’t really mind.

    Problem is that the iBookstore, Amazon and tor all refuse to sell the book to me because Ii’m in New Zealand.

    So either i’m blind and have missed a way to exchange $$ for redshirts or your publishers are forgetting about a loveable little country on the ass end of the world.

    Please help !

  32. Given this silliness, do you have a preferred vendor we should buy it from? Say I have a kindle and want you and/or your publisher to receive as much of my money as possible but I’m in Australia so Amazon is refusing to sell me one until November… maybe Tor should hurry up with their eBook store.

  33. I have the same problem as Blaise and William (though I am in the significantly less exotic location Finland, where summer means worse skiing conditions for a couple of weeks). Amazon insists that the Kindle edition will be released in November and no other eBook store will even consider selling to me.

  34. @Duskfire: “I’m planning to read it very soon. Should be a nice relief from the excellent but complex Malazan series which I have just gotten into.”

    That’s an amazing coincidence from the guy replying right after me. I am fighting my way through the Mazalan book of the Fallen, and took a day off from it to read Redshirts. (I’d forgotten what it was like to finish a book in a day!)

    Redshirts made for a very nice change of pace, though the Mazalan series is excellent too.

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