I liked this book quite a lot by the end. It didn’t start out that way for me. In the beginning I thought it was way too flippant to have won a Hugo. By the time I’d finished the narrative, I’d completely changed my mind. It was still flippant in timbre, to be sure, but it also maintained a really fine tension between that flippancy and a difficult spin on the various anomalies and paradoxes of time travel. So what I thought I had in hand, by the end, was true genius.
Then the codas started and, along with them, another severe dip in my level of esteem for the work. Here is a novella at best, I thought, being stretched to a respectable length by the arbitrary addition of bonus material that’s really not a part of the original work.
That may actually be the case. I don’t know at this point, but I do know that the end of the third coda had me in tears – well nearly – and I would not remove them now for love nor money. Redshirts is a work of considerable talent and a surplus of nerve. It is creative, different, entertaining, and thought provoking in the best of all possible ways. That it seems throughout like light reading is, I’m sure, no accident. As Thomas Hood said in 1837, “The easiest reading is damned hard writing.”
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