"It was a great story. It was great drama.
And it all rested upon him. And this moment. And this fate. The destiny of Ensign Davis.
Ensign Davis thought, Screw this, I want to live, and swerved to avoid the land worms.
But then he tripped and one of the land worms ate his face and he died anyway."
When Ensign Andrew Dahl joins the crew of the Intrepid, the flagship spaceship of the world, uh...it's kind of a weird place. Most of his coworkers in xenobiology tend to coincidentally go out for coffee every time one of the officers comes around. One of the officers, Lieutenant Kerensky, always seems to be near death approximately every week. But that's nothing compared to the poor new guys/ensigns on the ship. They're always hiring...because at least one ensign seems to die horribly via strange alien creatures on every away mission. (Really, what the hell are "ice sharks?") And then there's "The Box," to be used whenever an officer gives you an impossible problem that needs to be solved in a short period of time. Put the problem in the box, and a half hour before the deadline, it's done, as long as you go up to Q'eeng the Science Officer and ask him to fix some uh...random thing.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?! Dahl, no dumb bunny, figures out there must be something drastically wrong here. And he tracks down Jenkins, the ship's yeti a guy who seems to know what's going on and is hiding from everyone else, in order to find out why. As you can perhaps guess...they're on a TV show that's ripping off Star Trek. Badly.
So, if you discover that's how your universe is going, what would you do about it? Well, our man has a plan...
Beyond that point, I'm not going to go into the plot of Redshirts, other than to say it's quite awesome and thoroughly enjoyable if you're a geek, even if you're not a Star Trek geek. It's very well done, funny, and makes you think. The only thing wrong with it is that it's darned short. Okay, so there really isn't a way to make it a longer story--and it shouldn't be--but I whipped through this book in a few short hours and felt quite sad when it was done.
There are also three codas to the original story (working on making it longer!), featuring characters mentioned in the later half of the book and how they're doing. I actually liked all three of them quite well. The first one is a pretty wackily-toned humorous bit, while the other two are more pensive and serious. It's a tone change, but understandably so, and I found those stories enjoyable as well. Four stars.