I was in the middle of another novel when I stopped to read Redshirts. I normally don't like to do that, but library availability will not wait and I'm a committed free fiction reader, as well as library supporter. So I took a brief break (4 hours total) to take it in.
The book is quite a lot of fun. I have not read a lot of Scalzi's work, so mostly what I know of him is as a parodist. His other recent award nominated work, The Shadow War...is a very funny April Fool's joke. This one is a takeoff on televised SF, specifically on Star Trek and the red shirt security officer phenomenon.
Having your characters mirrored in real life, or a "real" life mirroring literary characters, is a common trope in fiction. I remember it in SF from Lazarus Long in The Number of the Beast, a not particularly good Heinlein novel. This one is much more fun. Scalzi's writing style reminds me ofdialog on Firefly, though he did not write for that series as far as I can tell. Read Redshirts for a good time. I'd say it was a contender for the Hugo, though it wouldn't beat out 2312. Four stars from me.