Redshirts to Become a Television Series

A nice little bit of news to send us all off into the weekend. The details are here.

(Update: I have more to say about the deal, here.)

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

100 replies on “Redshirts to Become a Television Series”

Awesome! Should be fun. Although if you can stop Fox showing it in the wrong order, that would be even better ;)

Back to back with original ST would be suitably meta.

Enjoy the royalty checks!

When you (eventually) picked Athena up from school after forgetting to do so in your excitement over this news, after your apology, you should have pointed out that this means she can go to the college of her choice.

This made me laugh out loud at work at the awesomeness of the news. And I agree that Wil Wheaton should be in the cast! (Ooh, and Rothfuss as Jenkins is nice casting, too). Congrats, and enjoy your weekend celebration of whatever sort.

Mr. Scalzi as Dahl, Felicia Day as Duvall, Pat Rothfuss as Jenkins…

And Jeffery Combs as Hester, because I love Jeffery Combs. And Wil Wheaton as Hanson.

Have William Shatner as Abernathy and Leonard Nimoy as Spock–I mean, Chief Science Officer Q’eeng. And Simon Pegg as West, and Karl Urban as the doctor whose name I always forget, because unfortunately the original Bones and Scotty are dead. And Jonathan Frakes as Kerensky, because humor.

That would probably max out the parody. I would pay to see that in theaters, mutiple times.

Holy moly. This sounds like the threshold to the really big-time, all medianized and stuff. If you get a jet like Clancy can we buy seats to the next Worldcon?

I love the idea of Redshirts as a limited-run or mini-series, but I have no idea how they could make the concept work over the course of multiple seasons.

I guess that’s why Shestack and Kwapis get the big bucks.

In related news, the coverage of the announcement in Gawker’s sci-fi blog io9 initially misspelled the name of the book/show in the most cringingly hilarious way possible. They have fixed the headline but the error lives on in the post’s url:

I am in primary celebratory phase right now, pending the announcement of the length of the Limited Series and the composition of the cast. I suspect Wheaton is camping out at the FX offices as we speak…

I see they’re still looking for the best writer for the project. Hmmm, I -do- still have my dusty old WGA card in a drawer somewhere. And my sole screenwriting credit (for ST:TNG) is actually kind of pertinent. But would I really want to try and drop back onto that path of meat-grinder competiveness? (Probably not. I’m sure Shestack and Kwapis are already receiving queries from writers who are actually still active and agented.)

I may actually give the idea some time as a thought-experiment, though. I think REDSHIRTS would be difficult to do right, but easy to do badly. The main narrative could be an enjoyable farce. But I’ve always thought that it was the addition of the Codas that gave REDSHIRTS extra heart and depth and soul, and made it stand out from other metafictional farces.

But how to take something odd-but-acceptable in a published book (larger main narrative with connected short stories included at the end of the book) and turn it into something suitable for a television limited-series? I think one would have to somehow take the Codas and weave them into that main narrative so the sub-stories of the Codas developed at the same pace as the main narrative.

That would make writing REDSHIRTS for television a lot more complicated and difficult. My fear is that the project will end up taking the easy way out and just say “Dump the Codas”.

– – –

Actually, if I could adapt any book I wanted for movies or television, it wouldn’t be REDSHIRTS. (Sorry, John.) It would be Alexander Berkmann’s PRISON MEMOIRS OF AN ANARCHIST. I actually pitched the idea a few times when I got called out to meet with producers over scripts I’d submitted. (“What else ya’ got?” they’d always ask.) The pitch got some “Hmm, interesting,” responses, but nothing beyond that. (Berkmann was, to put it lightly, a difficult protagonist in his own life. The tagline I pitched for the idea was “Hero. Monster. Fool.”)

– – –

A note of pragmatic cynicism for everyone: One thing you learn trying to be a screenwriter (after the ST:TNG sale, I spent several years trying to sell movie scripts) is that for a project to actually reach completion in Hollywood, there are a thousand things that have to go right. And there are TEN thousand things that can go wrong.

Okay. When i saw this, I had an actual attack of uncontrollable squeeing and flailing in delight. Then I realized how odd it is for me to be so wildly excited because “OMGOMGOMGOMG NOW I’M GONNA BE ABLE TO WATCH THAT BOOK I READ ON TV!”

But, y’know, whatever. Fun doesn’t have to be logical. *recommences flailing*

Oh. George Takei…as all of the male random redshirts (Chen, Davis, Weston, the guys who got eaten at the station, the guys who got killed by evil spider monsters, Sid Black (in a flashback), et cetera).

Because fucking awesome.

Alternatively, have him play Abernathy, and use William Shatner for the redshirts. Because George Takei’s still in great shape, and he could stand to lose his shirt a few times.

A television series
based on a book
about people who come to realize that
they’re characters in a book
about characters who come to realize that
they’re characters in a television series

I think a small part of my universe just collapsed into a singularity.

(p.s., congratulations!)

I can’t wait for the making-of special about the series based on the book about the series etc. Not to mention the years-later docudrama (see An Adventure in Space and Time) about how it came to pass that they made a series about…

If there really are a true infinity of universes, then for every universe there’s another in which the people of the first universe are characters in a book, series, or book about a series. And that’s true of the second universe too…

“If Jorge Luis Borges had been a staff writer on the original Star Trek, he would no doubt have concocted a story like Redshirts.”

I know it’s part of the producers job to be all gushy, but dayum…

So how does it feel to be the Borges of Star Trek?


Dear John: Wow. I never thought I’d ever start a letter saying THAT. I have just finished re-reading my hard backed copy of Redshirts that I ordered from your local bookstore that you were nice enough to sign for me. what can I say, I am a fan.
My first impression of it wasn’t a good one, and had left it on the shelf until the recent announcement of it becoming a series. I can’t tell you how many times I had gone through Androids dream, Fuzzy nation, agent to the stars and the old man’s war series. I even went through your short story for metatropolis. These stories were so good I couldn’t even imagine you writing crap, so I decided I’d give redshirts another try. I hope this means my pallet has matured because I now realized how good it is, and for such a hard concept to put into words (it made me think a little more than your other stories).
An amazing talent you have (and one that I am trying to develop) is one that allows you to take on an individuals point of view so completely, so personally, it is truly believable (the point of view, not the talent).
I look forward to the stories that come out of the series redshirts, I hope they do it justice.

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