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[personal profile] krpalmer
Just a little while ago, the "Bad Astronomy" weblog mentioned a science fiction novel by John Scalzi, who I'd heard of without reading any of his works, and it seemed to start long-stilled wheels turning. I was conscious all over again how I've fallen out of touch with contemporary written science fiction perhaps for no more elaborate or dignified reason than a crawling certainty the discussions and magazines I used to read were as ready to take whacks at certain convenient targets as anything else, although the Science Fiction Book Club going out of business didn't help either. However, I was also simply interested in a novel about junior officers on the questing starship Intrepid sorting out how likely they are to die scouting unknown planets than the senior officers, a novel with the title "Redshirts"...

There might have been the uncertain feeling of wondering if a novel satirizing "TV science fiction" qualified as real genuine written science fiction, even if I knew it was unfair to think of mere "tie-in books." In the bookstore with a special discount coupon, I saw the book on the shelf, but found myself stuck on the thought that I also wanted to get some other books too. At last, a thought I'd already had returned to me, and I decided I would buy the ebook version for the used iPad I'd bought a few months before with the thought of setting it up for "mobile Internet." I considered myself familiar enough with reading things on a screen, and I supposed the promise that the publisher had requested digital rights management not be applied also eased me along... (A while later, though, I just happened to hear the ebooks were being protected anyway by accident and had to send away for an unlocked copy.)

As for the book itself, I suppose I did have the feeling the storyline was "familiar" enough in an "aware" age, and yet the twists (twists I suppose I'm trying not to give away at the cost of vagueness) were at once familiar and surprising. Perhaps befitting the general idea, there was plenty of dark yet cutting humour, but things developed into something that did seem more humane and even profound than "ha ha, isn't it easy to see through mass-produced culture!" It just might have got beyond some thoughts of mine on beginning, though. Thinking of the various superheroes that are obvious commentaries on more famous superheroes, I had got to wondering if you could come up with characters that were recognizable as "Star Wars but not" and say something about good and evil and redemption... although I'm inclined to the unfortunate suspicion it would be more likely to just take those familiar whacks. That feeling went away as the novel progressed, even if I did find myself thinking the description had a careful vagueness to it (for one thing not mentioning what colour shirts the characters wear), the better for people to "know what they really look like" perhaps.

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