REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi (2012 TOR / 317 pp / hc)
Like a couple of the author's previous novels, REDSHIRTS begins with a bunch of newbies becoming part of an intergalactic spaceship crew. Weird stuff starts happening to them, and in the case of the crew of the Intrepid, the newbies seem to be the first (and only) ones to die on away missions. Ensign Andrew Dahl eventually discovers that his crew--his ship--and his entire life has been written in the 20th century by a hack scifi writer on a bad scifi TV show.
Unlike the author's previous novels, REDSHIRTS is a parody of the scifi genre, and although it brings films like GALAXY QUEST and THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO to mind, it has its own flavor. The newbie crew of the Intrepid kidnap one of the Intrepid's main officers and time travel back to 2012 where they plan to confront the writer of the show, in hopes they won't die in their all-too real future. The back-in-time section reminded me of STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME, albeit much funnier. This is quite entertaining, and is told in three codas, one from the point of view of the screenwriter, one showing the outcome of the screenwriter's ill son, and the final from one of the future character's pretend wives (which ends the novel on a serious but satisfying note).
REDSHIRTS takes a while for the laughs to kick in, but is never slow. I was expecting it to be funnier considering some of the blurbs on the back cover, but even so still recommend this solid spoof of scifi TV geek culture.