Redshirts by John Scalzi

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John Scalzi's Redshirts is a send-up of televised science fiction and also much more. Much more. It has been described by the NYTimes as a space-faring "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead".

A simple parody of the notorious "that-character-is wearing-a-red-shirt-so-you-know-he's gonna-die" trope/cliche/plot device from Star Trek and the black box solution would have not been particularly interesting if written by a less skilled author. (Anyone rolling their eyes toward the heavens imploring deliverance from such a story, as I did for months before reading it, rest assured, it is well worth reading.) Mr. Scalzi lifts the premise beyond the usual pap one would expect to create a unique, well crafted story with flawless characterization and plotting. The story ends with three epilogues that resolve loose ends and allow the reader to feel the plight of the characters and feel their emotions at the close of the story.