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Well, strap in everyone, because this is a longun. Once again Jonathan Capps, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes gather within the digital realm to discuss the fuck out of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, specifically, Part Two: Alone in a Godless universe, and out of Shake’n’Vac. How many times can the book rob the TV show blind? What do Grant Naylor have against Brian Kidd, anyway? And was it Lister or the robot fish that broke the Cat’s tuth? Endure all 2 hours, 12 minutes and 47 seconds of our chat to find out!

DwarfCast 113 – Book Club #2: IWCD (Part Two) (129MB)

Thank you again for your both numerous and voluminous comments. We try our best to mention as many as people in the pod, but they’re so dangerously witty and insightful that any one of us can only safely look at them for five minutes at a time before our brains start dissolving. Speaking of which, it’s now time to put the first book to bed so the comments section for this post is the place for you to discuss Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers Part Three: Earth, and we’ll be along with our analysis after we take a short break to watch Samsara.

Show notes

46 comments on “DwarfCast 113 – Book Club #2: IWCD (Part Two)

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  • This is perfect to sit and listen to in the park while drinking a couple of beers, he said while sat in the park listening to the episode, drinking a couple of beers.

  • I really enjoyed this. Cheers lads.

    One thing that struck me when reading this part, was how little I was enjoying the parts that I knew from the TV. A few times I considered skipping over because I knew what was about to happen.

    Maybe that’s because I only re-read all the books last year so the content is quite fresh. But I enjoyed part one, that is more or less entirely new material, a lot more.

    It’s interesting seeing how they change certain aspect and weaving thing from different episodes together, but by a large, a chapter from Kryten or Me2 is close enough to the show to not need to read it.

    One thing that did strike me, was how much of this part is focused on Rimmer, because of the Me2 aspect, Lister really doesn’t do a lot at all. It’s mostly Rimmer coming to terms with death, then coming to terms with living with himself etc. Whereas Lister just has a bit of a breakdown, rebuilds Kryten, then goes mining, and that’s all given so little page space compared to Rimmer’s experiences.

  • Remember the other week, when we all started this journey together? And I said of Rob and Doug’s writing,

    that very first, opening, capitalised introduction to chapter One is so striking, it’s actually exciting just to look at.
    […] It all just sounds nice.

    Well, Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers also has one of the finest final sentences of any novel I’ve ever read. It ends with a enigmatic smile and a knowing wink. Just marvellous.

  • Listening to this, and hearing Symes refer to The Cat breaking his “tuth” with an ‘uh’, rather than “tooth” with an ‘oo’, is really bothering me.

  • Re: Danny’s Passage.
    How do you think Chris in particular (and Craig, Danny and Robert in other assorted literary instances) felt about being so… well, abused, I suppose? Having his physical features – his nostrils, chin, nose, adam’s apple etc – picked on?

  • The Brian Kidd thing has reminded me of something I wondered about. In the Omnibus, Rimmer says Lister’s read the same number of books as “Woolfie Sprogg, The Plasticine Dog”. Same in the non-Omnibus version, or Champion the Wonder Horse as per the episode? Part Two Chapter 15.

    I agree the way Lister treats Kryten is a bit off. The Rimmers getting Kryten to eat the glass shows that he really will blindly follow orders. Presumably Lister knows that if he ordered Kryten to help with the mining he’d just get on with it, but instead Lister persuades him to do it. He’s still reluctant of course, and then Lister does whack him on the head with a piece of ore, so it’s really not much of a defence.

    I’ve just read the last chapter again to see what the guys are on about. Ahhh! Never clocked that before. Very clever. Anyway, on to Part Three, but IAWL first. I’m enjoying this :)

  • Anyway, on to Part Three, but IAWL first. I’m enjoying this

    Like Ian (and other G&T-ers, I can imagine), I’d never watched It’s A Wonderful Life before it cemented its place in Red Dwarf lore. And it’s now a big part of my Christmas-time, too.

    Mind you, I’d never actually watched BladeRunner before I was made aware of it’s effect on the creation of Back To Earth (despite it already residing on my DVD shelf), and I don’t think I’ve watched that again since.

  • Listening to this, and hearing Symes refer to The Cat breaking his “tuth” with an ‘uh’, rather than “tooth” with an ‘oo’, is really bothering me.

    You should loooook it up in a boooook.

  • I listened to the audiobook (and BTL) as available on Spotify. Never listened before, but they must be heavily abridged versions.

    Having read the books 4 or 5 times over the last 20 years, I started noticing passages, or whole plot lines missing.

    E.g. They meet Kryten, learn about the Duality Drive, get a summary of Listers mining plan, then bam: Bedford Falls. No second Rimmer, no accidental crushing of multiple scutters as a result of petty one-upmanship.

  • Ah, west midlanders saying tuth. A strange thing.

    I’d like to heap praise on this wonderful DwarfCast but, despite his wonderfully in-depth analysis of the book in the previous thread, I don’t think Dave deserves to be credited for my point about Lister’s lucky pants being both boxers and y-fronts.

    And yes, I always thought it was Zargon warships, not Zygon.

    Looking forward to reading Earth this week.

  • I don’t think Dave deserves to be credited for my point about Lister’s lucky pants being both boxers and y-fronts

    Too late, it’s there for posterity now, I’ve stolen your credit. I’m the Thomas Edison of G&T.

  • I listened to the audiobook (and BTL) as available on Spotify. Never listened before, but they must be heavily abridged versions.

    Having read the books 4 or 5 times over the last 20 years, I started noticing passages, or whole plot lines missing.
    E.g. They meet Kryten, learn about the Duality Drive, get a summary of Listers mining plan, then bam: Bedford Falls. No second Rimmer, no accidental crushing of multiple scutters as a result of petty one-upmanship.

    Not sure of the options these days, but the unabridged audio books are out there. The abridged ones were available on 2 cassettes, whereas unabridged was..I want to say 5? I never owned the unabridged ones on physical media and remember it being incredibly difficult to find them in shops in the nineties.

    The abridged ones are a terrible way to experience either of them to be brutal. In Infinity, it cuts so much of the post-accident stuff on board Red Dwarf (the status quo the first third of the book builds up to), that Lister appears to be stuck in deep space for a relatively short period. (Ok, we know the twist but STILL).

    The manner of Lister’s death is also changed at the end of BTL as all the Polymorph stuff is removed. It is such a big decision that it’s really quite surprising they went with that.

  • The manner of Lister’s death is also changed at the end of BTL as all the Polymorph stuff is removed.

    SPOILERS MUCH?!

  • I’d like to heap praise on this wonderful DwarfCast but, despite his wonderfully in-depth analysis of the book in the previous thread, I don’t think Dave deserves to be credited for my point about Lister’s lucky pants being both boxers and y-fronts.

    Whoops. Looking back at my notes I had everything properly attributed, I was just rushing to get through it so must’ve omitted your name. SORRY.

  • The versions on Audible are definitely unabridged, as that’s how I listened to them. I believe iTunes has the unabridged versions too, as long as you go for the audiobooks and not the “radio show” versions listed as albums.

    The downside is those storefronts require you to pay money, which is a bit unreasonable.

  • The abridged is 4 hours long i believe. the unabridged is 8 hours long. so there is a lot cut out of the abridged.

  • The abridged is 4 hours long i believe. the unabridged is 8 hours long. so there is a lot cut out of the abridged.

    Yep. I think the unabridged was 4 tapes. Unabridged was 8. I bought the audio book from Audible pre-Amazon buyout so it ended up in a format I couldn’t listen to it in, so I had to convert it to mp3. Which means now I can cut it up into Chapters.

  • Finally finished this Dwarfcast, and I just had to go back and reread that final page with the transition into Part Three to see what the secret giveaway was that you were talking about.

    I’d never noticed that before. Very clever.

  • Some thoughts on ‘Earth’.

    -One question I’d like to ask everyone is: the first time you read this book, how long did it take you to realise that they were in Better Than Life? I can vividly remember feeling very stupid for not getting it until the U=BTL reveal. In retrospect it makes sense, especially given all the weird and wacky shit in Lister’s new life particularly, but up to that point I thought it was just the book suddenly getting very silly and weird and Hitchhiker’s-esque. I AM AN IDIOT.

    -The arrival on Earth in the Sahara feels incredibly cinematic. Another one of those moments that you can’t help but visualise in the imaginary movie version of this story. It’s also hard to not think of the aborted finale to series VIII and wonder whether it would have shared any resemblance.

    -On the handling of Better Than Life in general, I feel like this is the first time the books take something that didn’t quite work in the series (albeit only due to the budget limitations inevitably making it difficult to fully realise) and decides “right, we can do this better”. It’s so gloriously over-the-top and outrageously large-scale in places, and sells the idea of BTL much better than an overcast day out in Rhyl.

    -Like some of the earlier sections of the book, this version of Better Than Life is again a much darker and more disturbing take on an idea from the series. Doing BTL like this wouldn’t have worked in the show even if they did have the budget, but it’s fantastic drama for the book.

    -Did Rob and Doug know they had a contract for a second book when they wrote the first one? If so, the cliffhanger ending makes more sense, but if not then that’s a ballsy way to end the novel, potentially forever.

    -In our current era, there’s something very weird about Rimmer in BTL essentially becoming a parody of Donald Trump (the buildings named after him are the real giveaway). It feels a bit too harsh even for Rimmer. Has there ever been any indication that he aspires to that kind of corporate success? Or was that just society’s shorthand for success in the era when the book was written?

    -In lots of ways, Rimmer’s ideal existence is, curiously, not unlike the alternate life Lister manages to make for himself in Timeslides. So was that TV-Lister’s dream and Bedford Falls book-Lister’s? Or was a statue of himself urinating champagne and being hitched to Sabrina Mulholland-Jjones just an unintended consequence of TV-Lister’s plan?

    -The Solidgram is an interesting prototype of the hardlight hologram, years before Legion. I actually kind of like the elegance of the name, but maybe they thought it was too jargon-y and unnecessary for the TV series, and “hardlight hologram” is more obviously self-explanatory.

    -The one bit of this section that I didn’t really like was the slightly too on-the-nose explanation of Lister and Rimmer’s fantasies and what each of them wanted out of life. But then it acts as a necessary precursor to that great bit where each is jealous of the other’s fantasy, playing off the difference between conscious and subconscious desires.

    -Which maybe explains the Timeslides thing, come to think of it. That’s what Lister thinks he wants, but Bedford falls is what he actually wants.

  • I always thought the paradise the people get trapped in Star Trek Generations was pretty much Better Than Life. Though I suppose false paradise traps were in sci fi before, Alan Moore’s Superman one for example and I’m sure in classic sci fi too.

    As for Rimmer being like Trump I guess that was a pop culture thing, Biff in Back to the Future for example. heck even blade runner.

  • One question I’d like to ask everyone is: the first time you read this book, how long did it take you to realise that they were in Better Than Life? I can vividly remember feeling very stupid for not getting it until the U=BTL reveal. In retrospect it makes sense, especially given all the weird and wacky shit in Lister’s new life particularly, but up to that point I thought it was just the book suddenly getting very silly and weird and Hitchhiker’s-esque. I AM AN IDIOT.

    I honestly can’t remember what my experience of this was. It would have been at least 20 years ago and I’d have known the next books title so maybe I sort of assumed going into this section that it wasn’t all real anyway? Who knows.

    It’s good to see it did catch people out though.

    On the handling of Better Than Life in general, I feel like this is the first time the books take something that didn’t quite work in the series (albeit only due to the budget limitations inevitably making it difficult to fully realise) and decides “right, we can do this better”. It’s so gloriously over-the-top and outrageously large-scale in places, and sells the idea of BTL much better than an overcast day out in Rhyl.

    I think, on the whole, the books do better when they stay away from the scripts entirely and do something brand new. The open, pre-accident stuff in Infinity is much more interesting and perhaps even better written than the second section that is a mash up of 3 scripts with a bit of extra detail thrown in. the Me2 is only interesting in so much as that the two Rimmer’s have a reason to be competing with each other (fixing the Nova 5) but otherwise Future Echos and Kryten are bits I sort of wanted to skip over. I’d have liked to have seen more on Lister’s mining expedition, but as I said elsewhere, it’s interesting how this second of the book focuses much more on Rimmer than Lister, despite the book ostensibly being about the last guy alive and how he deals with it.

    Or was that just society’s shorthand for success in the era when the book was written?

    I think that was societies shorthand for success, especially late 80s and the end of the Thatcher/Regan era – boom and bust economics and all that. That was a massive drive for people to become wealthy. Also, Rimmer would never be successful in the Space Corp, but arriving back on earth and making something of himself post death (whatever that may be) was what he wanted.

    -In lots of ways, Rimmer’s ideal existence is, curiously, not unlike the alternate life Lister manages to make for himself in Timeslides. So was that TV-Lister’s dream and Bedford Falls book-Lister’s? Or was a statue of himself urinating champagne and being hitched to Sabrina Mulholland-Jjones just an unintended consequence of TV-Lister’s plan?

    In Timeslides, you can see a stark difference between young Lister who loathe money and possessions (and who likely be happy with a Bedford Falls lifestyle) and the older Lister who just wants to escape Red Dwarf, and making himself a millionaire so he didn’t have to sign up to Red Dwarf was his way of doing that. I’d also suggest (without evidence) that being a multi-millionaire would allow him to fulfil any dream he wanted. He could, had he chosen to, bought his farm on Fiji. But a) money changes people and b) perhaps the younger Lister hadn’t had that plan yet.

  • In Timeslides, you can see a stark difference between young Lister who loathe money and possessions (and who likely be happy with a Bedford Falls lifestyle) and the older Lister who just wants to escape Red Dwarf, and making himself a millionaire so he didn’t have to sign up to Red Dwarf was his way of doing that.

    True. And I guess it’s interesting that (despite initially rejecting future-Lister’s offer of the tension sheet) young past-Lister does ultimately take him up on it and pursue that lifestyle. So maybe it was always in him to some extent.

  • In Timeslides, you can see a stark difference between young Lister who loathe money and possessions (and who likely be happy with a Bedford Falls lifestyle) and the older Lister who just wants to escape Red Dwarf, and making himself a millionaire so he didn’t have to sign up to Red Dwarf was his way of doing that.

    True. And I guess it’s interesting that (despite initially rejecting future-Lister’s offer of the tension sheet) young past-Lister does ultimately take him up on it and pursue that lifestyle. So maybe it was always in him to some extent.

    One thing that’s never discussed, is exactly when young Lister “invents” the tension sheet. It could be much later when he’s had time to reflect on how his life is going, and not like the day after he meets his future self

    Although presumably it needs to be before Holden invents it. And it’s implied it was always invented when he was at school right?

    So actually, none of these timelines add up as Rimmer is older than Lister so even young Lister should have been too old to invent it.

  • I don’t think Holden necessarily got the idea at school in the original timeline. That only happened after Rimmer went back and ‘fixed’ things.

  • Rimmer/Thickie are 6 years older than Lister. Thickie is a millionaire at the age of 26, so we can assume that it’s around that time when he invents it (originally).

    Lister’s plan is that he goes back and gives the idea to patent the Tension sheet to himself at age 17. Note; he doesn’t need to publicise it, he just has to wait maybe 3 years for Thickie to try and do that and claim it infringes on his patent.

    When Holly says Rimmer has “put things back the way they were”, it’s just in terms of who the inventor was. Thickie ends up inventing it aged 8, so about 18 years earlier than in the original timeline.

  • Rimmer/Thickie are 6 years older than Lister. Thickie is a millionaire at the age of 26, so we can assume that it’s around that time when he invents it (originally).

    Lister’s plan is that he goes back and gives the idea to patent the Tension sheet to himself at age 17. Note; he doesn’t need to publicise it, he just has to wait maybe 3 years for Thickie to try and do that and claim it infringes on his patent.
    When Holly says Rimmer has “put things back the way they were”, it’s just in terms of who the inventor was. Thickie ends up inventing it aged 8, so about 18 years earlier than in the original timeline.

    Ok that makes a lot of sense.

  • Whether Thickie Holden actually thought up the Tension Sheet, or it was just an infinite loop of Rimmer telling him about it, has kept me up at night before.

  • I always find the stuff about Jim and Bexley creepy, and imagine them looking a bit unlifelike, like unconvincing CGI like you get in adverts where babies sing and dance etc., or with Syncro-vox mouths or something. I do like that bit though, where Lister realises what the messages on his arms mean, and the idea of what’s really going on there as his brain fights against the game.

    Couple of things I was struck by when watching IAWL: the GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS sign in Pottersville, very similar to the one on Mimas in Part 1 of Infinity. And young George mentioning Fiji when he’s telling Mary where coconuts come from, and talking about going exploring one day.

  • Earth, then.

    One: I’d forgotten just how early on they throw a curveball that things aren’t right. In my head you’re led to believe that it’s all possibly real for at least a few chapters, but the arm message immediately tells you something’s very wrong here.

    Two: The Solidgram is definitely a precursor to hardlight. It probably wasn’t something they said “we’ll do this on screen at one point” about, but the immortal line feels too familiar for them not to have used it as a model.
    Rimmer wanting to buy Bedford Falls and turn it into a maggot farm is proper nasty series 1 Rimmer at play.
    The phrase ‘salute-shaped pool’ really makes me laugh.
    I love how Rimmer is so unimaginative that his Brazilian wife is called Juanita Chicita. Everything about that marriage is unpleasant, from the fact that she was probably 17 when they met, to the use of the word ‘acquired’.

    Three: The description of Kochanski is kind of the point you give up thinking this is reality. Still surprised it’s so soon. And yes, the babies are really fucking creepy.

    Four: The fact that Rimmer is not only willing, but almost happy to shoot Lister a few million seems at odds with the maggot farm idea, and feels more like series 2 Rimmer: if they’re not quite friends, they’re still very fond of each other.

    Six: Lister and Rimmer both being embarrassed of their fantasies and jealous of the other’s is really interesting. They both know their ideal lives are somewhat cliched and, if they knew they were playing the game, they might want to challenge themselves a bit more.

    Seven: Is Cat’s fish tank meal the only thing that happens in both the TV and book versions of the game?

    Nine: Those last two sentences are so ominous.

    It’s funny, that book felt really long to me when I first read it, but I got through each section so quickly this time. I suppose age and reading experience fed into that.

    On the whole I enjoyed it a lot. As with the general consensus, the weakest bits are those that are copied directly from the scripts. The rest, especially those that expand on things only hinted at on screen, is really superb though.

  • Four: The fact that Rimmer is not only willing, but almost happy to shoot Lister a few million seems at odds with the maggot farm idea, and feels more like series 2 Rimmer: if they’re not quite friends, they’re still very fond of each other.

    I read that the other way. That’s Rimmer making a gesture that costs him nothing (relatively-speaking, considering his wealth), but simply asserts “how much better” he’s done than Lister.

  • It’s funny, that book felt really long to me when I first read it, but I got through each section so quickly this time. I suppose age and reading experience fed into that.

    It is a relatively short book. Especially if you’re used to longer more complicated reads. It’s at the very bottom end of novel length I think, at 300 pages, and it’s written with uncomplicated language so you can blast through it quite easily.

  • Thank you for keeping the comments coming – we will be picking up where we left off at some point, we just don’t yet know when. Won’t be too long. We’ll keep you posted and try to give you a bit of notice before we record.

  • It’s at the very bottom end of novel length I think, at 300 pages

    Not to “actually…” you, but actually there are a lot of novels shorter than 300 pages, including a huge number of ‘classics’.

    What I am surprised about, having Googled it, is that it turns out to be the shortest Dwarf novel. I could have sworn Better Than Life was even shorter.

  • I recall finishing them all in one day on first reads, aside from Backwards…which took a tiny bit longer.

  • I recall finishing them all in one day on first reads, aside from Backwards…which took a tiny bit longer.

    From back cover to front.

  • It’s at the very bottom end of novel length I think, at 300 pages

    Not to “actually…” you, but actually there are a lot of novels shorter than 300 pages, including a huge number of ‘classics’.
    What I am surprised about, having Googled it, is that it turns out to be the shortest Dwarf novel. I could have sworn Better Than Life was even shorter.

    A novel is anything over 50,000 words, so page count isn’t indicative of length. But for the page and print size of IWCD, 300 pages is around that mark. So you’ll get shorter and longer page counts, but that’s something of an average I think. I could be completely wrong and chatting out of my arse of course.

  • You talk a bit about the order of experiencing these. So: my first Red Dwarf was V, then I’m not sure what order I watched the rest and read the books exactly; but certainly I had read this by the time the first series came out on video. As such I was actually a bit disappointed by “The End” when I first saw it – I was expecting to see Mimas, I wanted the Cat civilisation, and I had exactly no conception that those things would have been unachievable, or even that they hadn’t been devised.

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