I used to love The Nitpicker’s Guides, by Phil Farrand. Sitting there and wallowing in all the mistakes made in Star Trek might sound the saddest thing in the world – and that’s because it is. But, dammit, I enjoy reading about the inconsistent nacelles on Enterprise model shots.
Sadly, further books in the series were stopped due to legal troubles – unauthorised guides were being cracked down on at the time, and the publisher didn’t want to accept the risk. But it survives in the form of the Nitpicker Central website. And something I didn’t realise until recently was that their forum has a Red Dwarf section.
A lot of the actual mistakes are stuff that has been dealt with before in the PIPs – although the VII/VIII stuff is new. 1 But what I find most interesting about the board is that it’s a record of Dwarf talk on the net that’s relatively old – there are some posts from late 1998. This is pretty rare, with only alt.tv.red-dwarf, and the occasional thing you can grab from archive.org giving a similar insight. Indeed, there are contemporary postings from 1999 that detail people’s first reactions to VIII, which I find fascinating, and well worth a read.
It does all make me wonder, though – why, in the nineties, did nobody do the equivalent of The Nitpicker’s Guide for Dwarfers? Not Phil Farrand, but anyone? In the 90s, the franchise could support loads of book tie-ins, including the quiz books. You would have thought that somebody would have had a go. Indeed, I meant to start writing one at the time, but never got round to it. A shame, really, or I could be a multi-multi-multi-millionaire…