Scalzi has a talent for writing comedic science fiction, and while this book does not disappoint on that front, where it really shines is in the deconstruction of space opera and its well-established tropes. Both hilarious and moving, this book is an absolute must-read for science fiction fans everywhere.
Newly assigned to the Universal Union ship Intrepid, Ensign Andrew Dahl knows that it’s a prestigious posting but nonetheless he can’t help but notice some extremely strange behavior on the part of his shipmates when it’s time for an away mission with the senior officers. Eventually, he realizes the reason: every mission involves a confrontation with alien lifeforms, which the senior officers always survive and one or more low-ranked crew members does not. As a low-ranked crew member, this is relevant to Andrew’s interests and he begins looking for information about why this chain of events always happens with away missions. What he discovers will transform his understanding of the universe and give him and his friends a chance to save their own lives. (TOR, Jun., 304 pp., $24.99)