by John Scalzi
First sentence: “From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abertnathy, Science Officer Q’eeng and Chief Engineer Paul West perched on a second, larger boulder, and thought, Well, this sucks.”
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Content: Aside from the number of deaths (some of which were gruesome) and a bunch of swearing (including a lot of f-bombs), it’s fairly accessible. I’d give it to any nerdy geek (teen and up) who’s interested. It’s in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of the bookstore.
Things are a bit weird on the starship Intrepid. Sure, they’re the flagship of the Universal Union, but they’re experiencing a higher than average number of deaths. Mostly of new ensigns. And no one seems to know why it’s happening. Sure, they’ve figured out it’s always the newbies, and that going with certain crew members either ensures your safety (or demise). But there’s really no rhyme or reason to it. When five new ensigns — Dahl, Duvall, Hester, Hanson, and Finn — get assigned to the Intrepid, they’re thrown into the weirdness of it all. Except that they (especially Dahl) really like their lives and want to continue to live. Thankfully, there’s one person on the Intrepid — a hermit named Jensen — who has things sort of figured out. It’s all just a lot weirder than anyone was expecting.
First: I’m not really a Trekkie. Sure, I watched some of TNG and most of Deep Space 9. I’m fluent in Trek, I know what’s going on, but I’m not a super huge mega fan or anything. All that is to say that even if you’re not a Trekkie, and you only know the basic fringes of the show (especially the original show), you’ll get what Scalzi is parodying here. And that is enough to have enormous amounts of fun with this. No, it’s not side-splitting hilarious, but it is amusing. And entertaining. It’s not deep (though the epilogues are clever and sweet), but it’s fun. The characters are delightful (mostly), and it’s fascinating watching the meta upon meta plot unfold. In short: it’s a well-written romp through a genre that sometimes takes itself way too seriously.
And sometimes that is exactly what you need.