Author: John Scalzi
Genre: Science fiction, humor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:
(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces
(2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations
(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
I really enjoyed this book. It's light-hearted and a quick read, but it's also very clever. The entire book basically sets out to answer the question of why certain people on an intergalactic space shuttle die almost immediately while others never sustain more than cuts and bruises. The crew-members have insane theories, but even the craziest among them can't possibly figure out the truth.
This novel is really clever and fun, but don't go expecting too much more than that. There are a few sections at the end that attempt poignancy, but they felt forced and irrelevant compared to the ridiculousness of the rest of the novel. I almost wish they weren't part of the novel, but I can appreciate that they tied up a few loose ends.
I would definitely recommend this as a light and fun summer read, but I'd point you towards Scalzi's Old Man's War or Lock In for a funny book with more substance.