This is a typical email exchange from my book club when we get a reminder about an upcoming meeting. This time it was about John Scalzi’s Redshirts which is a meta-fictional riff on Star Trek type background characters who always end up being fodder on away missions. For the record, EM is a redhead.
RS: “Gentlemen, Just a quick reminder, we meet tomorrow to discuss Redshirts. Try not to get eaten by an ice worm on your way there.”
AK: “I plan to be there, as long as my narrative lets me.”
EM: “I tend to survive these meetings when I travel with AK, so I”m going to keep with that plan.”
AK: “It doesn’t fare well for us EM, both of our cars are red, and you’re pretty much screwed genetically. My only shot of making it there alive is to use your ginger head as a shield.”
AT: “Well guys, I’d hoped to see you one last time. They said the air down here was breathable. (AT in LA).”
JG: “I will definitely be there, but I feel the need to run back and forth in traffic first.”
SM: “Gents, I wish I could be there, but I am on an away mission to the Oregonian Embassy to work and investigate strange xenobiologic substances: coffee, wine, and beer. Am about to try some- what could possibly go wrong?”
MW: “Do be careful of the Portlandian microbes that are endemic to those comestibles. The side effects can be hellish.”
AF: “Watch your trousers, or you might get stuck there.”
Most loved it, some liked it okay, thinking it was a little too clever for it’s own good. Everyone agreed it was the perfect palate cleanser after the denseness of James Joyce last month. One fun bit of the discussion was when our fearless leader had us go around and relate our favorite and/or least favorite scene. The fictional “Black Box” was a particularly favorite meta-narrative device. And yes, I’m using “device” in both senses here.
We also briefly mentioned the Old Man’s War series to those interested and there was some discussion of Lock In as well for those that had recently read that. We had also shared the Jonathan Coulton song via email before the meeting and talked about our enjoyment of that. Here’s the original release by Scalzi’s publisher. And here is a clever version with a montage of actual redshirt wearers. Yeah, Scalzi actually commissions these songs for his novels and they’re actually damn good. Here’s one for his newest novel, Lock In.
Scalzi also sometimes writes funny shorts to go along with his novels which he performs with friends at events. One of our members made lovely little booklets of a short he wrote as a companion to Redshirts called “To Sue the World” and passed them out at the meeting. Here’s a video of Scalzi performing it with Patrick Rothfuss. I think he’s obviously done it with Wil Wheaton as well.
A fun book and great meeting! Our next pick is The Guns of August. It is a big, fat, extremely well-written account of the lead up and beginning of World War I. You can tell I’m reading it on a Kindle because all I know is that I’m about 30% or so into it. I’m struggling with whether I should keep going or not. If I do finish, it will probably be all of the next three or four weeks and therefore the biggest chunk of my participation in the TBR Dare. I appreciate the book but I’m finding it hard to make myself sit down and stick with it. When I do I usually like it well enough but can only read for a short time. So I think I’ll give it this weekend, and maybe the rest of this next week. If I’m loving it I’ll continue. If not, I might read something that’s actually been on MY own personal TBR shelf, not something chosen by the book club. As someone at the meeting the other night said, “Well, if I don’t finish it’s not like we don’t all know how it turned out!”