Here's a riddle: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, and a security officer whose name we don't know go down to the planet Bezerkon to quell the Berzerker uprising. Who gets their face eaten? Right - the unnamed security guy. The red shirt. The featured characters couldn't die! Not even Sulu (the featured Asian character and crazy with a sword!). What if the redshirts, posits Scalzi, became wise to the situation? What if they set out to do something their Star Trek doppelgangers never did - save their own lives.
Redshirts is a fairly thin joke to begin with and translucent by the time Scalzi is done stretching it into a bizarre metafiction. It's a geekfest and entertaining enough for former Trekkies like me for a fair portion, if not all, of the novel. Interestingly, it was published concurrently with Charles Yu's short story collection Sorry Please Thank You: Stories, which happens to contain a similar parody entitled "Yeoman."