Heros and Redshirts, or the Power of the Hydra

Redshirts - John Scalzi

The myth of the hero and heroine is not only a trope of fiction, and fantasy in particular. I hear psychologists about it. I hear sociologists about it. And I see social networks, with their top followed, and top reviewers, and best librarians. They tell people they can be heros for the week. They're doing it reasonably well, with well designed special pages and shiny labels on your names.

You may like it. You may not care. You may not care to begin with, and start to think it means something. Reward the top, the most, the best, in some way, is hardwired in social interactions. Marketing knows the deal, and the shiny label on your name rewards your hard work as it rewards more mundane socialization and fun.

You're top librarians, and best reviewers, and top users.

Till one day, they teach you who you are, in face of those who write the rules of the game. You find out you're the expendable, those who can be shooed away, to keep the tone of the series.

You're the redshirts.

You may have slipped for years, working and having fun and keeping in the background. Someone has to maintain the library of all books ever published on the planet. Someone has to write the creative, harsh, playful reviews. With the sole reward, a two-words label on your name on a website.
But you're no top, you're no hero, you're no authority, on your own work. You're expendable. You're receiving your final warning before your account is removed.
You're the redshirts.

Well met.

You love books, you say? I love books, too. Books tell you redshirts can figure out the game, and stand together, and make a difference. Books tell you the scriptwriters only wanted to know you care, and they'll adapt for your sake. Books tell you have the power, should you get together and stand up for yourselves.

Books tell you redshirts can be heros again.


It's a good book. Don't you think?

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