It’s only taken us fourteen years, but today is the day that we record our final episode commentary from the original BBC run of Red Dwarf. With the bit between our teeth and Broadcunting House having been moved online, we want to carry on this out-of-character run of recording on a weekly-ish basis while we can, so what next for DwarfCasts? Well, we’ve still got thirteen episodes from the Dave era to tick off, plus a whole host of spin-offs, extras and rarities to jabber over if we get stuck. But we’ll be alternating those with something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Welcome to The DwarfCast Book Club.

Every fortnight or so, we’ll be re-reading one part of one Red Dwarf novel to then discuss in great detail, and we’d love it if you joined us along the way. First up, naturally, it’s Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers Part One: Your Own Death, and How to Cope With It, and if you can squeeze in those 94 pages before we record on the weekend of 4th/5th July, we’d love to hear from you so that we can include your comments, reviews and observations in our discussion. Whether you’re just jogging your memory or experiencing the novels for the first time, please leave your comments in this thread. To help us out, please indicate whether each point you make is a general one about the part as a whole, or relating to a specific sub-chapter, so that we can collate everything more easily.

We’re really looking forward to revisiting the novels and finally discussing them with the level of depth that they so clearly deserve, and we hope that as many of you as possible find the time to join our virtual book group.

75 comments on “Introducing the DwarfCast Book Club

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  • Talking of which, does it matter much which edition we read? Presumably some of the changes will be covered in the chat. I’ve never actually read the non-omnibus (nomnibus?) version.

  • Grabbed my battered old copy of Infinity… last night and started reacquainting myself with its pages. What I find great is that it’s such a vivid book – not just when it comes to seeing the action in your mind’s eye, but actually remembering the passages of text on the page – and that opening, what with the capitals, is really rather memorable.
    I listened to the first part of the audiobook the night before, as well (yes, I do have them all on my laptop, what of it?), and that’s the same kind of thing – following the patterns of speech to the point where you can lipsync to what you’re hearing. (“Hundred and fifty second and third” is particularly satisfying.)

    Talking of which, does it matter much which edition we read? Presumably some of the changes will be covered in the chat. I’ve never actually read the non-omnibus (nomnibus?) version.

    The first time I read the books was in the Omnibus, too. The only changes, as far as I’m aware, are a couple of contemporary references. “Football – It’s A Funny Old Game” has been replaced as worst book by “Zero-Gee Football – It’s A Funny Old Game”.

  • I *think* that all editions are virtually identical other than the cosmetic differences si mentions, so any version should be good. I guess we’ll find out if that’s not the case as we go along!

    One thing to note is that if you’re listening to the audiobooks, make sure you’ve got the unabridged versions, as there’s loads that’s missing in the abridged.

  • Are abridged versions basically extinct at this point? It’s such a weird concept when you think about it, and it feels like it only existed due to physical media costs.

  • “Football – It’s A Funny Old Game” has been replaced as worst book by “Zero-Gee Football – It’s A Funny Old Game”.

    That is nowhere near as funny.

  • Are abridged versions basically extinct at this point? It’s such a weird concept when you think about it, and it feels like it only existed due to physical media costs.

    I guess also so that books can be cut to be serialised on the radio in a certain timeslot.

    I recently caught an abridged version of the Handmaid’s Tale sequel, The Testaments, on Radio 4 and had a similar thought about how anachronistic it seemed.

  • Having gotten rid of mine in the great “oh shit I’m having to move an entire one bedroom flat’s worth of belongings into my childhood bedroom” purge of 2015, I’ve just purchased a used copy online. Hopefully it’ll come on time. Looking forward to a reread.

  • Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers: Remastered

    It’s a normal paperback novel, but for some reason, 20 pages in, there’s a pop up Skutter.

  • Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers: Remastered

    It’s a normal paperback novel, but for some reason, 20 pages in, there’s a pop up Skutter.

    There’ll be an unfunny epilogue tacked onto the end, that completely undercuts the impact of the original ending.

  • Since this is the most recent discussion about the novels I’ll post this here.

    I caught a bit of Question Time last night and I noticed that the bookshelf behind Jess Phillips has a number of sci-fi books, including Last Human and Backwards:

    Screengrab here

    Unfortunately those two books are on the very edge of the screen, so we can’t tell if she has copies of Infinity and Better Than Life as well.

  • Talking of which, I just ventured up into the loft and located my copy of the omnibus. I haven’t seen it in years and it was like meeting an old friend.

    If how beaten-up and bent and scuffed a book is provides an indication of how well-loved it has been, I must have been head over heels with this one.

  • I’ve just started reading IWCD this evening. I’m not a big reader so have only read it once previously, about 15 years ago. I’ve listened to the audiobook multiple times but usually as background for when I’m falling asleep, and when I try to continue listening the next evening I can never remember at what point I actually fell asleep so the story is quite disjointed in my head.

    I’m just 4 chapters in and I’m surprised with how familiar I am with the opening few chapters. That’s probably from repeated attempts at listening to the audiobook, forgetting where I’m up to, and just starting back from the beginning again. Bizarrely, as I’m reading it, I don’t hear the familiar characters’ voices from the TV show in my head, but rather Chris Barrie’s impressions of them from the audiobook.

    I don’t really have anything massively intellectual to say from the opening chapters other than I’m really enjoying it. The opening description of Saunders adds extra layers of complexity and tragedy to hologramatic life which will no doubt feed into our understanding of Rimmer when he becomes a hologram. It’s really interesting that Lister meets Rimmer prior to joining the Space Corps and, in some way, Rimmer is a small influence on Lister joining the Corps. The description of Mimas and the world Lister comes from really paints a bleak image of the future and, if similar to the canon of the TV show, you can almost understand by Lister is better off on Red Dwarf and doesn’t take his many opportunities to return to Earth (assuming Earth is as dingy and overpopulated as Mimas). Also, I’m guessing the hoppers were the influence for the Remastered Blue Midget? 🤔

  • The description of Mimas and the world Lister comes from really paints a bleak image of the future

    Thank God modern times aren’t so bleak, eh, readers? ;)

  • Yeah, I treasure those first 50 pages as a detailed look at the pre-The End lives of the characters, but it really struck me on this re-read how much the world and humour are darker and grimier than what we see in the show.

    Also, on page 61 Rimmer had taken the exam 11 times, and on 63 he is about to take it the thirteenth time. What happened to the twelfth? Get it together, Rob and Doug.

  • I’m about 50 pages in now, so some initial thoughts.

    Holograms are handled in much more depth in the novels, and I really like that. Aside from the occasional acknowledgement (“I’m a computer simulation of me”), the TV series never really got stuck into the psychology of it and the realities of holograms not being really the same as the original person until the recent stuff in The Promised Land.

    That’s perhaps because it distances the viewers from the character if we’re encouraged to consider them as just a computer program, whereas you can afford that in a book because you can give readers a much stronger connection to their inner life and thoughts on the page.

    But it feels perfectly natural that the invention of holograms would be so world-changing, and I like that the book gets into that a bit, even early on. It’s also interesting to see the technology expanded on a little more – I had forgotten that the light bee was introduced so early here (way before the concept was first mooted on TV in Meltdown). It’s also interesting to see it descibed as such a tiny pin-head device rather than the chunkier (and again presumably more TV-screen friendly in terms of visibility) version that we know from the TV show.

    Moving on to Lister and Rimmer, I remember finding this opening to be a real curveball when I first read Infinity, and I still don’t know if I really like it. Firstly it feels a bit out of character, especially for Rimmer – I don’t buy him having the confidence to go to a brothel, in a weird way. And the aftermath of the sex scene – while funny – feels like it doesn’t belong in Red Dwarf for some reason, just slightly too crude and cheap without enough finesse. Although the gag with the sheep always makes me laugh, and I like the interaction involving Rimmer trying to pass himself off as not-Frank Todhunter, and for some reason the description of Rimmer’s purse really tickles me.

    But either way, it’s nice to see a first meeting between the characters, and Lister’s backstory and reason for signing up with the Space Corps is pretty well handled overall I think. It doesn’t really contradict the TV series but gives some extra layers and makes him even more of a bum than he seems when we meet him in The End.

    I also love the introduction of Red Dwarf and Holly, with so much more depth and detail than we could ever get from the TV series. The scene with everyone asking questions of the pre-senility Holly feels very cinematic and I like the idea of the ship being covered in a visible metro system. It’s this kind of expansion that makes me love the novels, that kind of infinite-budget approach that lets the imagination of the writers proceed with no restriction, and it’s interesting to see what they do without those budgetary shackles.

    And last but not least, the humour. It’s often a different kind of humour to the TV series – more lyrical, more arch and more ironic in some ways, but also very much in keeping with the show’s outlook. I like the extended look at certain supporting characters like Petersen, and I like the commitment to making every aspect of the book funny.

    For example, Saunders is a character who doesn’t really need to exist, at all, other than to explore holograms in more detail (which could have been done via McIntyre too). But I’m glad he does because the situation is so funny and the material so good. Again, it’s expansion that doesn’t feel like padding and doesn’t make it feel too different to the TV show, but makes it a nice alternative approach. I’ve always felt like the comparison of the RD novels to H2G2 was a bit lazy and superficial – there are some parallels, but overall it feels very different and still very much its own thing.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled for a while now, and I don’t know if any of this will be specific enough to help with the podcast, but I thought I’d get my thoughts down so far. I’ll come back for more once I’ve fully finished this first section.

  • Still waiting for mine in the post, but I definitely agree with the general sentiment that the first section is really wonderful. It’s my favourite part of the entire book series. Partially because it does fill in that wonderful blank that we only get a brief ten-or-so minutes of in The End, and goes even further back than that; partially because it makes the whole scenario feel a lot more well-rounded and realistic; partially because I do quite enjoy the characters just being themselves without too much threat once in a while, and thus the on-ship stuff is just a great example to see how the characters lived. It does also, as has been mentioned, really give you an idea of what it is that Lister and Rimmer have both lost, in a way the TV version never properly did (the closest probably being the Balance of Power flashback).

    It also poses an interesting thought: that the format-change in VIII could have been handled well (hey, it’s not a proper G&T thread unless someone’s criticising VIII in it). It’s an example of Red Dwarf running with a full crew, and the scenario being mined (lol) for excellent, relevant humour, and character stuff. I would have loved it if Doug had tried to recreate the feeling of this in VIII, having the characters try to slot back into this situation after several years surviving in space (maybe being called on occasionally to use their expertise to help out in a life-threatening situation, and Rimmer getting jealous that Lister is suddenly helping the Captain out).

  • Lovely to see so many people joining in already! Quick update on our plans: we’ve scheduled the recording for Sunday 5th at 4pm, so a bit before then is your deadline for comments!

  • Read the rest of this first section this evening. I’d forgotten just how much of this was burned into my memory as a teenager. Lots of memorable lines and moments, with some of the best writing in the book in this section. And it starts to feel closer to the TV show at this point.

    After the first 50 or so pages introduces the characters at a fairly leisurely pace and gets some setup out of the way, it feels like the next 50 race through lots of key events quite quickly. Life on board, the exam stuff, Kochanski, stasis, Frankenstein and the accident are all dealt with really efficiently and there’s a lot of important stuff packed into a short space. Maybe a sense of needing to get on with it and not take the basic setup past 100 pages?

    Also this section has one of my favourite chapter endings of anything, ever: “In just over seven months, every one of them would be dead.”

    The differences between the book and the TV show are often trivial or superficial (Hollister vs Kirk; second technician vs first technician; 11,169 crew vs 169 or 1,169 etc.) but the decision to not have Rimmer be directly involved in the cause of the accident in the same way as the TV series is a really interesting one. I wonder why they played it that way. It makes for a fun moment with Rimmer and the stasis booth though (the line about hearing the nuclear wind rushing down the corridor is another favourite).

    I also like the explanation of Lister actively planning the stasis punishment and taking steps to ensure the crew’s safety, the teasing of gazpacho soup, and the detail of the middle finger on the exam sheet.

    Not much more to say, other than can anyone explain how Rimmer missed his exam by having two Septembers on his timetable? If he correctly thought the exam was in October but mistakenly thought today’s date was still September due to the double month it would make sense to me, but the book has him knowing that it’s currently October but thinking the exam is in November for some reason. (Apologies if this has been covered before!)

  • Also, on page 61 Rimmer had taken the exam 11 times, and on 63 he is about to take it the thirteenth time. What happened to the twelfth? Get it together, Rob and Doug.

    Also Petersen/Peterson.

  • Not much more to say, other than can anyone explain how Rimmer missed his exam by having two Septembers on his timetable? If he correctly thought the exam was in October but mistakenly thought today’s date was still September due to the double month it would make sense to me, but the book has him knowing that it’s currently October but thinking the exam is in November for some reason. (Apologies if this has been covered before!)

    I think I did see something about this once, it might have been something in the Smegazine years ago, maybe even an interview somewhere. I’m sure there’s something out there somewhere.

  • If you went through September A and then September B, the 1st of October following September B on Rimmer’s calendar would actually be October the 31st, so for that one day Rimmer could know it was October if asked “what month is it”, but not know he was running 30 days late.

    That drift would continue obviously and he’d miss all important events for the rest of the year and into January by 4 and a bit weeks.

    B = Rimmer Calendar

    Sep B 1st = Oct 1st Actual
    Sep B 30th = Oct 30th Actual
    Oct B 1st = Oct 31st Actual
    Oct B 2nd = Nov 1st Actual
    Oct B 30th = Nov 29th Actual
    Nov B 1st = Nov 30th Actual

    So it only really works for one day, on the 31st of October (Actual) Rimmer knows it’s October and he has his exam next month in November, but he thinks next month is weeks away, when in fact it begins tomorrow.

    I think.

  • And if he thinks the exam is in November, but it’s not and it’s in October, his version of October is behind the actual October, so even if on the 12th of October B he realises “Smeg, the exam is on the 15th!”, his 15th of October is actually the 14th of November.

  • I don’t think any of that fits with what we’re told.

    The book makes it pretty clear that he knows the current date is October 27th, but when Petrovitch tells him the exam has already started that day he says that he thinks it’s on November 27th. I just can’t find a way that including two Septembers accounts for that mistake.

    Not a big deal, and I don’t want to derail the discussion with this one detail, but if the podcast isn’t 90% about this then I’ll be demanding my money back.

  • I don’t think any of that fits with what we’re told.

    The book makes it pretty clear that he knows the current date is October 27th, but when Petrovitch tells him the exam has already started that day he says that he thinks it’s on November 27th. I just can’t find a way that including two Septembers accounts for that mistake.
    Not a big deal, and I don’t want to derail the discussion with this one detail, but if the podcast isn’t 90% about this then I’ll be demanding my money back.

    Yep, then that makes no sense.

  • Oh, I’ve started it. I knew I would.

    Lister has just met Petersen and is musing about the “four and a half years” it’ll take to get to Earth. Bearing in mind, he’d signed up for five years anyway, this seems like incredibly poor planning on his part.

    I’ve listened to the audiobook (in its three forms) on various times but I don’t think I’ve actually read Infinity In about twenty years. That said, I think I read it at least 20 times in the 5 years before that. Seeing Richard Herring tweet about aphantasia often, and I’ve no doubt that I don’t suffer from that infliction; simply because my mind is still conjuring up the same images throughout – and they don’t bear much relation to the TV show.

    I’m very fond of the prose, and actually LOLed a fair few times. Remember being baffled by the rubber plant stuff on my first read.

    Not sure how Saunders is going to work through that stack of forms when he can’t touch anything. Love the stuff about “Bliss”, and enjoy how it’s kind of thrown in there to disguise the early seeding of Better Than Life. (One of these will pay off later, one of these will never be mentioned again).

    The two Septembers thing. So when he’s devising his timetable, Rimmer first needs to count the number of days until the exam. He mistakenly includes two Septembers and comes back with an (incorrect) number of days which he will detail (and shade) on his timetable. When he gets up each morning, he looks at the timetable and checks that it’s not *too* near. By October 27th, he’s long since forgotten the actual *month* of the exam, he just knows that he’s got “another 30 days”, according to his timetable. As a result, it *must* be “next month”.

  • I could maybe go with that if he wasn’t so specific about insisting that the date of the exam was November 27th. It’s probably as close as we’re going to get though.

    Remember being baffled by the rubber plant stuff on my first read.

    The rubber plant stuff is very funny, and also the one part where I thought the H2G2 comparisons were quite apt.

    Love the stuff about “Bliss”, and enjoy how it’s kind of thrown in there to disguise the early seeding of Better Than Life. (One of these will pay off later, one of these will never be mentioned again)

    Rereading it this time was the first time it occurred to me that the Bliss stuff was introducing the idea of a bum being absurdly cast as god, long before we get to Cloister.

  • Lister has just met Petersen and is musing about the “four and a half years” it’ll take to get to Earth. Bearing in mind, he’d signed up for five years anyway, this seems like incredibly poor planning on his part.

    That’s the point isn’t it? He wasn’t planning on actually serving the five years, but going AWOL as soon as he got to Earth, which he thought would happen much sooner. I love the description of the exterior of the ship in that chapter (8) when Lister sees it for the first time. Quite a lot about the ship is different in the novels, inside as well, but they didn’t make it sleek – it’s not the pencil. Also from that bit, Petersen’s “I’d offer you [a can of whisky], but I have only twelve left.” Pretty standard joke I guess but it specifically reminded me of this scene in the Likely Lads film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfSWT3sYHuc

    Tiny bit jarring when you know the show so well to have the ‘Baby I want your Love Thing’ gag repurposed for Saunders with the psychiatrist in Chapter 6. I don’t remember there being much of that sort of thing, except in Last Human where Kochanski gets some of Rimmer or Lister’s dialogue iirc.

  • I love the description of the exterior of the ship in that chapter (8) when Lister sees it for the first time.

    Yes. “A big, red, red, big clenched fist of metal” is probably the perfect description.

  • Tiny bit jarring when you know the show so well to have the ‘Baby I want your Love Thing’ gag repurposed for Saunders with the psychiatrist in Chapter 6. I don’t remember there being much of that sort of thing, except in Last Human where Kochanski gets some of Rimmer or Lister’s dialogue iirc.

    I thought it was interesting the way the material about Lister’s dad’s death (head down the toilet reading him the football scores etc.) was repurposed as a Lister-Kochanski scene (end of chapter 13).

    It makes for a nice tender moment that works differently to how it works in the TV series and gives a sense of the meaning of the relationship to Lister despite the Kochanski stuff being handled incredibly fast. It’s actually how impressive how complete an affair it feels given how little we have to go on.

    (Maybe so that she can remain an elusive, somewhat unknowable object of Lister’s desire?)

  • Not sure how Saunders is going to work through that stack of forms when he can’t touch anything.

    All the many times I’ve read this book, and it was only when I started this reread the other night that that occurred to me for the first time.

  • I guess he’d have a skutter with him and tell it what to write, like Rimmer in ‘Balance of Power’, but of course a reader with no knowledge of the TV show couldn’t possibly surmise that.

  • Chapter 3, Lister biting his cigarette in half and getting burnt. Inspired by the “I think I’m on fire… *BEEP* I am!” smeg up?

  • Ah I’d forgotten about Petersen’s cans of whisky. I first read it long before I knew much about alcohol (other than its tedious effects on adults) so I assumed drinking cans of whisky was a normal thing to do. I suppose I imagined it was something like beer.

  • Looking forward to this. I’ve been meaning to get around to rereading IWCD and BTL and then read Backwards and Last Human for the first time. This will hopefully spur me to actually do so.

    What I find so interesting about this section of IWCD (or at least what I remember finding so interesting about it, having read it a bunch of times when I found it at my local library, but not for 15-20 years at this point) is how much worldbuilding and backstory there is. Obviously, a book is a book and has more time to explore this kind of thing, but even by science fiction TV show standards, the show spends very little time on its world and history. Obviously there is a “Doesn’t really matter” approach to inter-series continuity, and even fundamental elements of the premise like Rimmer being a hologram of a dead person become incidental as the show goes on. If I had only ever just seen the show I would assume, “Well, it’s a sitcom, Rob and Doug probably aren’t really interested in all that stuff and understandably just want to focus on comedy and new situations.”

    But then this book exists. What I am wondering (and for all I know this has been asked and answered) is whether Rob and Doug had any of the larger worldbuilding in mind when they were first laying out the show, or if absolutely everything in the book is them going back to what they’d already written and deciding to figure out what the broader implications of the concepts might be.

  • That’s what I assume. I mean, I don’t assume there was ever an 80-page document from 1987 that laid out the workings of the Red Dwarf universe to the last detail (especially considering how much of that first book is them going, “Shit, we should have done it this different way in the first place”). But there’s bits in the show like “You livvies hate us deadies” and the hologram newsreader, and even though we only see a really brief pre-accident crew in “The End,” the routine on ship does feel pretty lived-in. These could very well just be funny lines they thought up in the moment, but it doesn’t seem unfathomable that Rob and Doug might have given some thought to what effect the existence of the hologrammatic deceased would have on society, or to have figured out the degree to which other planets have been colonized in this future, before deciding, “I guess it’s not really relevant because we’ll never see any of that given the premise of the show.”

  • Just finished the 94 pages and I’ve really enjoyed revisiting it.

    I wonder why they changed Rimmer’s storyline so that he wasn’t responsible for the death of the crew? (if indeed he should even be considered responsible in the TV show? 🤷🏻‍♂️) I guess it’s never really explored much in the show, except for Justice (which the novel predates). Did Rob and Doug realise this was going to be too bleak for the character in the novel? I guess in the TV show it’s easier to brush aside if Rimmer chooses to ignore it or forget about it, but in a novel you have access to a character’s inner thoughts so ignoring such an act would be more difficult.

    Lister is also played much smarter than in The End with his plan to get captured with the cat. His stupidity is a funny joke in the show, but here it paints Lister much more intelligently. His decision to inoculate the cat shows that he’s very conscious of the crew and aware of the dangers, and that he has thought out his plan thoroughly and not just acted spontaneously. Yet he will still rebel and bend the rules for selfish gain (to get home quicker). I don’t know which I prefer, stupid Lister or smart Lister. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    When describing familiar things we’ve already seen in the TV show, such as the look of the ship, the writing makes it very clear that this is a completely different world. Things aren’t the same here. Things look and feel different in this world. I’m not constrained by the imagery of the TV show. I don’t picture the Red Dwarf ship from the show, I’m picturing a different Red Dwarf ship that, whilst still has similarities, looks very, very different. The ship’s interior feels much bigger too. The drive room, for example, is a much larger, sleeker, more technologically advanced than in the show. Obviously budget plays a part here for the TV show, Rob and Doug are probably writing what they wanted the drive room to look like. But they’re making a conscious decision to NOT write the TV show but to give us something very different, and that works so well.

    The first act of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers has some fantastic imagery, it feels very filmic. I can’t help but feel that, once the TV show is long finished and perhaps a few decades down the line, this should make a great film adaptation.

    One final thing. Can we please talk about the dodgy Red Dwarf logo on the spine and back cover. What’s that about?! You’d never see an RD logo like that these days. I listened to your Marooned commentary earlier where you talk about the dodgy logos throughout Series 3, so I wonder if there’s a connection with these logos too?

  • One final thing. Can we please talk about the dodgy Red Dwarf logo on the spine and back cover. What’s that about?! You’d never see an RD logo like that these days

    The one on the omnibus? Yeah it’s pony.

  • One final thing. Can we please talk about the dodgy Red Dwarf logo on the spine and back cover. What’s that about?! You’d never see an RD logo like that these days

    The one on the omnibus? Yeah it’s pony.

    Oh yeah, that one is crap too! But I was talking about the original IWCD novel, the logo on the spine and reverse is shite too. This must be well before the logo became such an important part of the brand, couldn’t imagine logos as crap as that being used today…

    (Ok, The First Three Thousand Years is shit but at least it’s not squashed)

  • The one on the omnibus? Yeah it’s pony.

    The one on the Omnibus is fucking hideous.

    Something I like about Rob & Doug’s writing is, I don’t know… the way it’s formed? I don’t know if they’d written prose before, but it seems very natural. Both the speech (although, being scriptwriters, you’d expect that) and the narration; the way it’s set, the rhythm of the sentences. I like the way that short, simple sentences set a scene or give a vital or important piece of information: “Denis and Josie were lovers.”
    I love that sentence. The way it rolls off the tongue, and bounces from the page.
    The endings of paragraphs and chapters:
    “In just over seven months, every one of them would be dead.”
    “He ceased, temporarily, to exist.”
    “Then he died. Then everyone died.”
    Simple, but direct.
    And, come to that, the beginning of chapters – that very first, opening, capitalised introduction to chapter One is so striking, it’s actually exciting just to look at.
    And, of course, Rimmer’s death: “[…] suddenly hit full in the face by a nuclear explosion.”
    It all just sounds nice.

  • Absolutely. It’s what I was getting at earlier with the lyrical quality. There’s a very pleasing rhythm, almost a musicality to it.

  • Yes I agree it has that quality. Some very good descriptive passages as well, without it ever being overly florid. Saturday night on Mimas for example, and the shuttle approaching Red Dwarf’s docking bay and the architecture of the ship.

  • I can’t help but feel that, once the TV show is long finished and perhaps a few decades down the line, this should make a great film adaptation.

    Yeah, it’s been discussed many times whether there should ever be a ‘reboot’ with a new cast, and the only way I would even remotely support that is by doing a fairly straight film adaptation of Infinity.

  • The one on the Omnibus is fucking hideous.

    The one on the Omnibus has the excuse that it’s an O. It’s the one from Primordial Soup (which seems to be based on the Omnibus logo, without the understanding that it was an O) that’s fucking hideous.

    Agree completely on the sentence structure. My absolute favourite though is “Two small beers and three hours of stomach-knotting relaxation later, he would go back to his bunk and spend half the night awake, praying to a God he didn’t believe in for a miracle that couldn’t happen”.

    And of course, the last chapter (and the very last line) is just perfect. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

  • You could definitely use a lot of the ideas in IWCD for a Red Dwarf film, but I don’t think it would be good to directly adapt it, because it doesn’t really have 1 central, 3-act style plot. It’s similar to the issue with adapting Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a film. It even ends on a massive cliffhanger… also like Hitchhiker’s Series 1, now that I think about it. Huh.

  • Here’s a question for your BookClub. Do you still envision/think of certain characters or places in the same way from whichever series of the TV Show. Like for explme in “Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers” do you think of Lister and Rimmer along with both the Dwarf and the Bunk Room in the Series 1 look ?

  • do you think of Lister and Rimmer along with both the Dwarf and the Bunk Room in the Series 1 look ?

    I think of a slightly bigger version of the I/II bunkroom, because the book tells us ‘two steps led down to […] lounge area’.

  • There are parts of it that I envisage like the TV series particularly the familiar locations. But I like that enough of it is unfamiliar to encourage you to imagine a wider, more detailed world than we saw on TV.

  • I like the novels, but I don’t love them in the same way I do the TV series. I will post some random thoughts on specific sections…

    Chapter 3 – I wonder how well the introduction of Lister and Rimmer would work if people didn’t already have Craig and Chris in their minds. I first read this as a child and I remember genuinely disliking how grim the initial description of them both is. It doesn’t bother me so much now, but they are both initially portrayed as unappealing characters.

    The early chapters – I have less of a problem with the relentless violence and brutality at the start of the book. Rightly or wrongly I associate that more with Rob than Doug (don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they were both equally responsible for the novel as a whole), but two characters assault their own genitals in the first few pages, you have severed ears landing on the windshield and then later a character eating his own nose.

    Chapters 7 and 8 – I think this is a more successful section as it develops Lister’s backstory and gives a credible explanation of why he would join the crew. And I agree with those who have praised the description of Lister’s first sighting of the ship.

    Chapters 9 and 10 – The ‘Ken is a Transvestite’ joke is bloody awful and reminds me a little of the later ‘Cunnilingus’ gag from Series VIII. The section where Rimmer is beaten up is also not particularly strong for me, and I don’t think it would work on screen.

    Chapter 11 – My favourite audio version of this book is the BBC Radio Show where we actually got to hear both Hip-hop-a-Billy reggae and ‘Press Your Lumps Against Mine’! The hologram stuff in this chapter is also superior to the TV show.

    Chapter 12 – In the Bodysnatcher commentary, Rob and Doug revealed that Rimmer’s anal method of preparing for exams and making study schedules was very autobiographical. This section adds plenty of strong stuff that adds to his back story.

    Chapters 13 and 14 – The Kochanski described here resembles Clare Grogan, for obvious reasons, and definitely doesn’t resemble the character who appeared in Series VII. That’s not to criticize Chloe Annett, because her version of Kochanski had little reason to smile and showed next to no sense of humour. This is a much more satisfying depiction of her and Lister’s relationship than any era of the TV show.

    Chapters 15 to 20 – I will use the poncy word ‘adumbration’ to praise this whole section. The way that the death of the crew is foreshadowed adds to the drama, and mentioning 20:17, 20:18, 20:23 all makes it seem more imminent. I also enjoy the bluntness of the line detailing his death: “What now? he thought, rather irritably, and was suddenly hit full in the face by a nuclear explosion.”

  • Right, all caught up. One observation…

    Lister buys a pedigree cat during a 3 day stop in Miranda and inoculates it against every possible disease to prevent it harming the crew. The cat is onboard for a week when it is discovered, and by this point Lister already knows she’s pregnant. This poses some questions. Did Lister know Frankenstein was pregnant when he bought her? Surely it would come up when she was being inoculated that the Pedigree was expecting? Or did Lister work out she was pregnant in the 7 days afterwards?

    This obviously isn’t an issue with The End, as there’s no timings for how long Lister has had Frankenstein when she’s discovered. and Lister is aware of exactly how she got pregnant on Titan…and the cat-stuff seems to be Lister being stupid, rather than Lister having a plan…until Ouroborus retcons it. And in Red Dwarf USA, it’s Kryten who tells Lister the cat is pregnant.

    Rereading it this time was the first time it occurred to me that the Bliss stuff was introducing the idea of a bum being absurdly cast as god, long before we get to Cloister.

    Ha! Yes, I think that’s probably it.

    That’s the point isn’t it? He wasn’t planning on actually serving the five years, but going AWOL as soon as he got to Earth, which he thought would happen much sooner..

    Yeah, it just seems odd that he doesn’t bail on the plan as soon as he gets on board Red Dwarf. Stealing hoppers would have got him home faster.

  • The ‘Ken is a Transvestite’ joke is bloody awful and reminds me a little of the later ‘Cunnilingus’ gag from Series VIII.

    Oh, come on. Its nowhere near that. Here, Lister’s deliberately trying to wind up Rimmer.

    Stealing hoppers would have got him home faster.

    …as long as he could save the money instead of wasting it. But waste it he did.

  • Oh, come on. Its nowhere near that. Here, Lister’s deliberately trying to wind up Rimmer.

    Sure, but the structure of the jokes is similar.

    And they are both desperately weak imo, but we can agree to disagree on that.

  • IWCD was actually the first proper Red Dwarf i really experienced (before then, i’d only seen part of Demons and Angels and didnt really understand the plot at all) and i feel like, reading it without much knowledge of the TV show leads you to imagine something almost entirely different. then again i was only about 8 or 9 at the time so a lot of it flew over my head as well e.g. the brothel stuff on Mimas etc. ill also always associate IWCD with those little swedish fish candies because i was eating a huge bag of those when i read it one time. weird experience there

    also i might be misremembering this, but last time i read IWCD i remember noticing that Kochanski doesn’t get any actual lines of dialogue throughout the whole book. its always just the narration saying “she introduced herself” or something such as that, she never actually talks once. thought that was a good little detail to further show her as sort of sort of lister’s fantasy woman and how he sees her as some sort of ideal in his head rather than actually knowing anything about her as a person

  • Stealing hoppers would have got him home faster.
    …as long as he could save the money instead of wasting it. But waste it he did.

    Also I just assumed once he was on Red Dwarf it was too late to change his mind and he was stuck there.

  • Ialso i might be misremembering this, but last time i read IWCD i remember noticing that Kochanski doesn’t get any actual lines of dialogue throughout the whole book.

    This is true, and true for Better Than Life as well. Both novels seem to be making a conscious decision to not let us form our own opinion of her; just telling us Lister’s perception of her.

    Also I just assumed once he was on Red Dwarf it was too late to change his mind and he was stuck there.

    I guess, but it poses some interesting questions about his contract.

  • Very interesting point about Kochanski. Obviously a creative decision but I’m reminded of Ruby Wax’s remark about the skeletons in Kryten… I can’t really remember what she’s like in Last Human. Kochanski that is, not Ruby Wax.

  • I guess, but it poses some interesting questions about his contract.

    Yes and about what kind of organisations the JMC and Space Corps are, and their relationship to one another. I don’t remember whether the novels go into that in much detail but I guess we’ll see.

  • Kochanski in Last Human was sorta plain really. i don’t really remember much about her besides her Listers role in the DNA section of the book.

  • Kochanski in Last Human was sorta plain really. i don’t really remember much about her besides her Listers role in the DNA section of the book.

    I seem to remember that she made sure that Rimmer knew his place, that she was his superior.
    It’s been a good while since I read Last Human. Well, since I read any of them, really. I’ll wait a while, though. I’m sure we’ll work through to them together.

  • Yeah, as much as I enjoy IWCD and BTL, I think there might be some very interesting conversations to come out of Last Human and Backwards. Hopefully we ultimately do them all.

  • So do we start now on discussing the next chunk of IWCD, or wait until after the first podcast?

  • It’ll be easier if you wait til the first one’s out (which should be midweek), so that there’s a new thread for comments on both it and the next part. But obviously feel free to start reading ahead!

  • It’ll be easier if you wait til the first one’s out (which should be midweek), so that there’s a new thread for comments on both it and the next part. But obviously feel free to start reading ahead!

    urgh, you mean we have to keep reading this shit out

  • I’ll be honest, you might run out of time to read the first part before the podcast turns up.

  • Kochanski in Last Human was sorta plain really. i don’t really remember much about her besides her Listers role in the DNA section of the book.

    I seem to remember that she made sure that Rimmer knew his place, that she was his superior.
    It’s been a good while since I read Last Human. Well, since I read any of them, really. I’ll wait a while, though. I’m sure we’ll work through to them together.

    If I remember correctly, she’s portrayed as having awesome interpersonal skills that bring the best out of the crew – she hugs Kryten and cheers him up, she gives Cat the right compliments, gives Rimmer jobs that make him feel important and wins his respect. She’s almost cheesily perfect really with no problems fitting in or being unhappy at being lost in space. If jerks hadn’t claimed the term, I’d almost call LH Kockanski a Mary Sue. I was relieved at her being funnier and more flawed in series 7 (which I saw just after reading LH). In LH she almost seems like a perfect girlfriend/crew member they’d meet playing Better than Life than a real character.

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