“Most fans of SciFi are familiar with the tradition of the Star Trek characters who wore red shirts and went down to the planet on an away mission always ending up dead. Well, have you ever wondered what that might feel for the people wearing those red shirts? Scalzi has created a story set in the Universal Union aboard the starship Intrepid. Newly arrived Ensign Andrew Dahl is thrilled to having been appointed to serve on the flag ship, but he quickly comes to find that this might not all it is cracked up to be. Those above him always seem to disappear when senior officers come visiting for fear that they will be selecting officers to join them on an off-ship mission.
There is also a mysterious officer that seems to exist yet no one ever sees him. Dahl can't help but wonder what the story is with him, but he is starting to see why things are happening the way they are happening. Rumors about the high fatality rates for the ship are true, and being on an away mission with certain officers is a guaranteed execution.
In fact, the missing officer is thought to be crazy because he has started to say that the reason things are so rough on the lower decks is because everyone is really just a character on a television show. They are being killed for dramatic reasons. Could that really be true?
This really is a fun, satirical read. Fans of SciFi will find much to enjoy an recognize. It reminded me a lot of the great film Galaxy Quest. Scalzi actually served as an advisor for the short-lived series Stargate Universe. This is really a must read for any Trekker/Trekkie.”