Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, and he thinks his career dreams have come true. In fact, he's entering into a nightmare.
Dahl quickly acquires friends among other new crew members, and is thrilled to be assigned to the xenobiology lab. Yet his immediate supervisor and co-workers behave a little oddly. He and the other new arrivals--Maia Duvall, Jimmy Hanson, Finn, and Hester--all learn that they are replacing people killed in recent away team missions.
And everybody dodges Captain Abernathy, Science Officer Q'eeng, Chief Medical Officer Hartnell, and Chief Astrogator Kerensky. Dahl even has an encounter with a strange, very hairy person who warns him to stay off the bridge and "avoid the Narrative." After his first couple of away missions, Dahl starts to understand why. Nutty things happen, people die, and he finds himself doing things that are very dramatic but rationally stupid, as well as sharing, when required, information he didn't have before it popped into his mind in response to the situation.
What's going on here? Dahl and his friends decide they have to find out, before they all get killed.
This is a book perhaps best appreciated by people who remember the significance of the word "redshirts" with respect to Star Trek. I think it would be enjoyable anyway, but there's a whole meta level that would be missing if you're not familiar with the reference.
Some nice touches involve Kerensky getting to break out of the character the Narrative imposes and be the real Kerensky, as well as Dahl, his friends, and Kerensky encountering people who, um, look an awful lot like them.
Recommended for a purely fun read.
Book theme song (no, really)
I bought this book.