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In accordance with the Seventh Law of Schurfjhsdkjhsvmsdjksbvbmmmmm and of course staying within the restrictions laid out by the Turlslkdfcnekelhhffkghffgfkkfkkkkfkfkkfkfkkff Code, the DwarfCast Book Club returns as we decapitate Doug Naylor’s Last Human and inspect it in gristly detail. So, join Cappsy, Danny and Ian as they delve into the omnizone shambles, show you their appendectomy scars and publicly copulate in a marketplace.

It’s worth noting that this episode was recorded before the legal bollocks of this last week, and so any comments that bear any uncanny relation to this are merely coincidental.

DwarfCast 127 – Book Club #8: Last Human (Part One) (98.1MB)

For the next part of the Book Club you’ve got the relatively simple task of reading the remainder of Time Fork AND NOTHING ELSE. Report back your thoughts in the comments below before we record our own over the weekend of the 20th and 21st February, and we will consider not sending you to Cuntberia to be forced to listen to ScutterCast on a loop.

Show notes

103 comments on “DwarfCast 127 – Book Club #8: Last Human (Part One)

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  • Just a comment about the cover, but I believe it was Bill Gregory who designed both this and the Backwards cover.

  • I’ve become a huge fan of Danny’s impressions. He is quickly becoming the Chris Barrie of Dwarfcasts. When Ian said that this novel is better than Timewave I found myself thinking ‘not much’. I got this book for my 15th birthday in 1995 having got the previous two novels on my 12th. It didn’t compare at all in terms of enjoyment but it is a fascinating period.

  • I’ve become a huge fan of Danny’s impressions.

    Danny’s impressions are amazing. Spending a weekend with him is like being at a really weird celebrity party.

  • My biggest problem with Last Human (and Backwards) is actually the lack of a Chris Barrie unabridged audiobook.

    Maybe our Danny could fill the void…?

  • …i had not previously got the Cyberia/Siberia joke.

    25 years people. 25 years.

    Same. I never admitted it on the Dwarfcast but I sat there quietly annoyed that I never spotted it. I’ve had so many of these realisations over the last couple of years I start to wonder if I actually understand anything at this point.

  • I’ve become a huge fan of Danny’s impressions. He is quickly becoming the Chris Barrie of Dwarfcasts.

    You’re very kind.

  • …i had not previously got the Cyberia/Siberia joke.

    25 years people. 25 years.
    Same. I never admitted it on the Dwarfcast but I sat there quietly annoyed that I never spotted it. I’ve had so many of these realisations over the last couple of years I start to wonder if I actually understand anything at this point.

    it beats my 20 years to get the “what’s unpleasant about being drunk? ask a glass of water” joke from hitchhiker’s.

    having got on a bit further: I distinctly remember turning up at a bookshop at some point in 1994 looking for a copy of “The Last Human” which was supposed to have been out by then. when was that it would become a Doug solo novel announced? times like this i wish i still had my smegazines. did they get to the last issue without having officially broken the split yet?

  • I distinctly remember turning up at a bookshop at some point in 1994 looking for a copy of “The Last Human” which was supposed to have been out by then. when was that it would become a Doug solo novel announced? times like this i wish i still had my smegazines. did they get to the last issue without having officially broken the split yet?

    I think the press release for Last Human was the first time I heard that this would be a solo-effort and the acknowledgment in the hardback was the first implication of “the split”.

    Smegazine folded in early 94, and this was about April 95. They likely split at around this time, but Smegazine ended with the indication that The Last Human was delayed…but practically written. There was nothing in the TORDFC magazine (BTL) about this.

  • I think the idea of talking down Kochanski’s appearance is an attempt to say she’s not a super-model. It feels a very ‘90s attitude.

    Interesting thoughts about how Kochanski fits in… makes me think VII might have worked better if she’d arrived at the start, rather than after Rimmer left. It would certainly have made her feel like less of an obvious replacement.

    Am I right in thinking there’s no V in any of the books? Odd given that it’s potentially the most popular series with fans.

    Interesting about the continuity adviser discussion, particularly regarding Who, which actually employed Ian Levine for that in the ‘80s, which is where he got his status as super fan.

  • Am I right in thinking there’s no V in any of the books? Odd given that it’s potentially the most popular series with fans.

    Quarantine is in Last Human.

  • One if Ian’s small points – “who is Holly, unless you’ve read the books or seen the TV show you wouldn’t know”.

    I’d say a lot of this book (so far) works on the assumption that you know who everyone is, what everything looks like etc. Which is fair as it is ostensibly the third book in a series. But I definitely noticed my mind filling in gaps where Doug has just assumed we as the reader know. Like, Starbug isn’t really described in anyway. Bit of it are but the whole set up is the series VI set and if you’re just going back book descriptions, you’d remember Starbug basically being more like the III set in BTL. You’d be terribly confused about all the extra areas that are now getting mentioned.

  • You’d also be confused about how they got Starbug back after it was destroyed in the last novel.

    That Brian Blessed story in the show notes is brilliant, as is Danny’s impression. His David Sowerbutts is also spot on.

    John Sparkes was nearly in Red Dwarf. Doug mentions on the Bodysnatcher commentary that he auditioned for Kryten in Series III and I think got down to the last few people they considered.

  • Like, Starbug isn’t really described in anyway. Bit of it are but the whole set up is the series VI set and if you’re just going back book descriptions, you’d remember Starbug basically being more like the III set in BTL. You’d be terribly confused about all the extra areas that are now getting mentioned.

    BTL didn’t exactly do a brilliant job describing Starbug either though – again, lots of knowledge from the TV show is assumed I think. I don’t think BTL ever even mentions that it’s green.

  • I thought the idea of the Gelfs’ copulation ritual was to find the 1% of non-sterile males. But I guess if every time they ring the bells and everyone fucks they’re all pairing up randomly and not keeping track, it’d be hard to identify the ‘Potents’ who are impregnating the females.

    Chapter 6
    The bit in the villa is reminiscent of the chapter in BTL where Lister thinks they’ve left the game. In both he’s in a simulation and everything is suspiciously perfect, he realises what’s going on and then someone materializes in the room. It’s pretty contrived but I like the joke of it being the wrong scenario and Capote’s worst nightmare. Just the latest inconceivably cruel thing to happen to Lister.
    Strangely Lister’s funky heartbeat reminds me of the Cat’s in Series VIII.

    It took me a little while to get what “RBS” meant (Rastabilly Skank in case it’s not just me).

  • I recall the use of initialisms gets a little out of hand in this novel. See the introduction of “YD” later on for no reason whatsoever.

    SIX
    This chapter really does hammer home the similarities with Better Than Life. Still, it’s written in a style more similar of the earlier novels so that’s one advantage.
    It’s quite hard to imagine that Lister’s actual cyberscape would be his most feared living quarters, considering when we first met the guy he was living in a luggage locker.

    SEVEN
    There you are; Starbug is small and green! Twice!
    I don’t like the formal way Kochanski uses “Mr Rimmer”. His commanding officers used “Rimmer” and his subordinates use “Rimmer” – so this just feels weird.
    There’s a screech of plot-gears as Kochanski is written out of this scene, and thus the need to address how she’d feel about the ‘trade’.

  • I recall the use of initialisms gets a little out of hand in this novel. See the introduction of “YD” later on for no reason whatsoever.

    Well Yan Dhanda wasn’t born yet so I’m stumped again, at least til I see it in context.

  • Just finished this Dwarfcast. Good stuff as ever. I laughed out loud at Brian Blessed and the new lyrics to Rhinestone Cowboy.

  • I always thought that some good character comedy could have been mined between the Rimmer/Kochanski relationship. She’s in authority, he’s uncomfortable etc etc. The nearest the TV series got with exploring their interaction was that rather shit bit in Cassandra. I agree that it would have been a better idea to introduce her to the crew before Rimmer’s exit.

  • Chapter O’Six: A strange chapter, in that I can’t tell whether I like it or not. I think it’s down to the strange mix of large-scale sci-fi and comedy on display in the book: it’s mostly quite amusing, but it seems at odds with the threat of hell. A personal hell would surely be much worse than this? I get that permanently unpleasant things would be psychologically scarring after a while, but surely it’s an improvement on being homeless in the freezing cold while everyone else is comfortable and well off and refuses to help you, for example. It seems trivial for the sale of humour, but at the expense of the story. Which seems to suit the book I suppose.

    Chapter McSeven: I like the yaks not thinking very much section. The Rimmer icebergs are excellent too.
    The droids with the chips for their heads must have been the inspiration behind part of Beyond a Joke. It’s all very similar.
    The whole Kinitowawi section is quite nice, it’s different enough from Emohawk to feel like it’s own thing.
    The computer virus is enjoyably 90s. The Cat “modems” it to a computer which explodes. Lovely.

    Chapter von Eight: ah yes, this chapter.

    Chapter van Nine: the retconning of McGruder here obviously makes sense in context of the whole book, but on its own it seems quite strange. I suppose it’s nicer to Rimmer which on the whole I generally approve of. A couple of paragraphs later, though, he’s basically thinking that he doesn’t respect Kochanski because she’s not as nasty to him as she could be. He really is a messed up person.
    There’s not much humour in this chapter, is there? This could almost come from a straight forward sf novel.

    Chapter Tenski: Rimmer’s allergy lie could easily be countered by pointing out that he’s a hologram. It’s funny though.
    Why does everything immediately float after the gravity goes off? Surely if it’s still on the ground it wouldn’t move. When Lister tries to get to the oxygen he almost reaches it and then floats back up again – it’s almost like reverse gravity rather than no gravity.
    I laughed at ‘turn into a fish’ (a precursor to VIII’s dog joke?), but otherwise it was again not really a work of comedy. Just action at this point.

    Chapter Elevenov: 126 pages in, probably time to a) discuss the backwards universe and b) see something from Kochanski’s perspective.

    Chapter d’Twelve: “The rope had decided to resign as a rope” is a very good phrase.
    This is the first real taste of how different Lister II is. And he’s a fucking prick.

    Chapter Thirteen Jones: not much of a chapter, but a big reveal that sets off the plot of the second half of the book.

    Chapter Fourteen: ah, so it was the choice of foster parents that caused this Lister. Had forgotten all about that. There’s so much happening in this book and I barely remember more than a third of it.
    And the books about the history of the belt finally come in use!

    That continues in the vein of the first 80 pages and expands on them: comedy and intriguing characterisation is largely abandoned for sci-fi plotting. I do like the story here, and I can still barely remember what happens in The Rage, a few key moments aside, so I’m enjoying reading it. But it’s not Red Dwarf, is it? It wouldn’t require much editing to make it work as a completely standalone novel. And the Cat is barely present in these chapters at all. A foreshadowing of VIII there, I suppose.

  • Found this image a while ago. do you think this was an original cover for when Rob and Doug were writing the book? or just a mistake cover?

  • Holy shit. That’s awesome!

    The ISBN on that cover is legit too. It brings up the following:

    ‘LAST HUMAN, THE (RED DWARF)’
    ISBN-13: 9780670852550

    ISBN-10: 0670852554

    Author: ROB GRANT’ ‘DOUG NAYLOR

    Edition: 1st

    Binding: Hardcover

    Publisher: VIKING

    Published: January 1995

    Obviously, it didn’t get published in January…

  • According to this (written by Andrew Ellard, I assume), The Last Human was never actually written.

    https://www.reddwarf.co.uk/features/history/never-read-a-book-2/

    Just to correct what I said above, I went and checked the last issues of Smegazines.

    It’s the Sep 1993 issue where there’s an interview with Lyons & Howarth (of Virgin’s Programme Guide). It’s clear that the prose isn’t written, but they have a plan. It’s not clear when this interview was conducted, and it seems incredibly late in the day when the book is intended to be released at the end of the next month. However, there’s an implication that this is BAU and the novels are traditionally done in this way. Lots of plot planning, less time spent on actually writing. The original proof of Infinity included Thanks For The Memory, apparently.

    The Oct 1993 issue of Smegazine was released with the assumption that the novel had already been released, as a book tour is announced. The Nov 1993 issue includes an apology that “hey, it’s been delayed”, and that Rob and Dog “decided they could write a much better book if they waited until they had more time to devote to it”. Hmmm.

    In the same issue, it’s claimed that Rob and Doug will be overseeing the full series of The 10%ers together, but may be relying on other writers.

  • CHAPTER 6

    I always liked this chapter. While not hugely original, the idea of being put in the wrong hell and it being a paradise always amused me a lot. And the scene where Capote turns up and explains why it’s a hell for him is a nice little payoff.

    “The smell of dead gravy sodomized both his nostrils” is a hell of a line though. I’m not sure I like it.

    CHAPTER 7

    The gag with them turning up on the desert planet in the wrong clothes is a funny one, and given how visual it is I’m surprised it’s never made it into the show.

    I like the description of Rimmer’s physical features here. The iceberg smile is like the evil twin of Kochanski’s pinball smile.

    The gag with the offence taken at the sperm is a good one, and again I can see the TV cast doing it as I read it.

    And the ending of this chapter is maybe the most blatant setup of a Bicycle Gag that I’ve ever seen. And the next chapter duly pays it off.

    CHAPTER 8

    I’m convinced this chapter only exists to make the sex scene at the start of the book feel less “eurgh” in comparison. Is that broken language at the end of the penultimate paragraph meant to be the text equivalent of Lister’s o-face?

    CHAPTER 9

    A lot of this stuff feels very un-Dwarf-y to me, really getting into the realm of generic sci-fi. Although again there’s some nice Rimmer character stuff – the coward who sees himself alongside great generals and heroes of the past – and the McGruder reminiscences are an interesting aside. I WONDER IF THAT WILL EVER COME UP AGAIN.

    The stuff in Kryten’s head is fun here too, even if it is slightly tragic that he has zero self-esteem. Still, the reasoning that he can’t kill himself because it would be too untidy is a good gag, rooted in character.

    CHAPTER 10

    The bait and switch with the success of Kochanski/Rimmer/Kryten’s side of the plan is handled well and makes the start of this chapter nicely tense.

    All the gravity stuff is a bit silly and raises a few too many “yeah but is that really how it would work?” questions, but it’s nice to see some sci-fi absurdity that the TV show could never really realistically do well.

    Lister’s exchange with Headless is a good bit of business that’s genuinely funny.

    Interestingly, the drowning scene mentions that it’s Lister’s least favourite way to die “apart from being eaten alive by rats and gonad grilling”. The rats obviously call back to the Polymorph of the novels that turns into the rat in BTL, but amusingly I realised that the gonad-grilling ties in with the Bond-esque death contraption in Cured.

    So when the Dwarfcast for Cured complained that Lister’s fear came out of nowhere and wasn’t set up, it was, it was just set up in a spinoff novel published 22 years earlier.

    CHAPTER 11

    All the Backwards-Earth stuff feels a bit chucked in here to me, but it’s nice to flesh out that part of the story a little bit either way.

    CHAPTER 12

    Lister waking up here feels very reminiscent of him waking up from the reverse heart attack at the end of BTL.

    “The rope had decided to resign as a rope” feels like classic Grant Naylor from the first two novels.

    The gradual realisation that alternate-Lister is an arsehole is a genuinely horrible revelation, and it feels so wrong that it initially feels hard to accept. But I think that’s why it works. This is the guy that everyone loves, the heart of the show, and the moral centre of the crew. It’s much more gut-twistingly horrible for *him* to be the villain than any brand new villain could have been.

    CHAPTER 13

    And this just twists the knife in the whole thing. Although by now readers have probably worked out that alt-Lister killed the other Dwarfers of his dimension.

    CHAPTER 14

    Alt-Lister ogling Kochanski is somehow even more horrible than what we’ve already seen. There’s a genuinely creepy feel to this scene.

    The stuff about choosing the “wrong” foster parents is an interesting explanation for the different Listers, very much a dark Ace Rimmer style concept.

    Kryten talking about the history of the belt just makes me think of the item of clothing after the last Dwarfcast.

    And the final moments of this chapter (and this section) are nicely tense and sinister. I think there’s something about an unsmiling Kryten that’s very unsettling.

  • It’s the Sep 1993 issue where there’s an interview with Lyons & Howarth (of Virgin’s Programme Guide). It’s clear that the prose isn’t written, but they have a plan. It’s not clear when this interview was conducted, and it seems incredibly late in the day when the book is intended to be released at the end of the next month. However, there’s an implication that this is BAU and the novels are traditionally done in this way. Lots of plot planning, less time spent on actually writing. The original proof of Infinity included Thanks For The Memory, apparently.

    That’s some solid gold you’ve uncovered there. Never knew that was their writing process. I’m very intrigued to know if the original proof still exists now.

  • One other thing I wanted to mention that applied to the first section of Last Human but maybe moreso to this section: it’s really nice to have a Kryten-Kochanski relationship that isn’t marred by all the awful jealousy stuff of Series VII or all the awful sexual politics of Series VIII. They work quite well together here and it feels like there’s some mutual respect and competence.

    Admittedly not many laughs though, which maybe wouldn’t be great for the TV sitcom version. But on the whole it feels much more mature than any of the Kryten-Kochanski stuff seen on-screen.

  • The gag with them turning up on the desert planet in the wrong clothes is a funny one, and given how visual it is I’m surprised it’s never made it into the show.

    They almost did it in Nanarchy, but pre-empted it in dialogue instead.

  • The gag with them turning up on the desert planet in the wrong clothes is a funny one, and given how visual it is I’m surprised it’s never made it into the show.

    The closest we got was them landing on the Red Dwarf planetoid in Nanarchy.

    Kryten talking about the history of the belt just makes me think of the item of clothing after the last Dwarfcast.

    Yes, I almost threw in a reference to that in my thoughts, but couldn’t come up with anything funny enough.

    Wonderful stuff about the books there, Dax, Chryss and Pete. Amazing how even documented stuff doesn’t seem to be part of the gestalt fandom memory.

  • I must have completely forgotten that part of Nanarchy. I’m a bit patchy with recalling VII-VIII these days.

  • Found this image a while ago. do you think this was an original cover for when Rob and Doug were writing the book? or just a mistake cover?

    The most interesting part of that is… no sunglasses.

  • Dax’s pic is interesting. The concept is the same, but the art/colours are obviously different.

    The front cover of the book doesn’t have much to do with the story, of course. It fits for the title, in so much as the last human is Lister and the silhouette is obviously him (in the TV show). Much like the other novels, I suspect the cover art (or at the very least, the concept) was ready quite a while before the proof was delivered, which probably explains why this was knocking around in late 94.

    The acknowledgements in the book are dated February 1995 (which would suggest this was the time the final proof was delivered). There are special thanks for Penguin, about how they were promised a book multiple times…only for it not to appear. I’m going to assume that Penguin were under the impression they were getting a novel from Grant Naylor until fairly late in the game, and then found out they were getting a novel from Doug Naylor instead. Although evidently, the title had lost the “The” before Penguin found out it had lost one of the authors.

  • The Oct 1993 issue of Smegazine was released with the assumption that the novel had already been released, as a book tour is announced.

    Well that certainly explains how teenage me ended up at a bookshop not able to find it!

  • The nearest the TV series got with exploring their interaction was that rather shit bit in Cassandra.

    I’d actually say the Kochanski flashback story to finding the cat does a really good job of showing how Kochanski and Rimmer would interact better than anything in VIII as the rank and authority is still there. “Rimmer, have sex with someone, and that’s an order”.

  • I’d actually say the Kochanski flashback story to finding the cat does a really good job of showing how Kochanski and Rimmer would interact better than anything in VIII as the rank and authority is still there. “Rimmer, have sex with someone, and that’s an order”.

    Yes, that’s true. I suppose I’d forgotten about Ouroboros (though who could blame me?). I think it’d would’ve been interesting to see how they interacted post-accident, all stuck together on Starbug. Would have been a more interesting substitute for the bloody awful Kochanski/Kryten stuff we ended up getting.

  • I’d actually say the Kochanski flashback story to finding the cat does a really good job of showing how Kochanski and Rimmer would interact better than anything in VIII as the rank and authority is still there. “Rimmer, have sex with someone, and that’s an order”.

    Yes, that’s true. I suppose I’d forgotten about Ouroboros (though who could blame me?). I think it’d would’ve been interesting to see how they interacted post-accident, all stuck together on Starbug. Would have been a more interesting substitute for the bloody awful Kochanski/Kryten stuff we ended up getting.

    Absolutely. I’ve not read Last Human in years as I always consider it inferior and not worth the time. But perhaps now with slightly older eyes I’m seeing the Kochanski/Rimmer relationship in the book as something that would have worked brilliantly on screen. That dynamic is much more interesting than Kochanski’s relationship with any other character, including Lister.

  • I remember that Andrew Ellard once posted that he knew how far the writing of The Last Human genuinely got, but he wasn’t permitted to divulge it.

    Is it in the Series VII documentary that Doug states that they batted back alternate chapters for a while, but it wasn’t working out?

  • NINE

    “He was someone who just needed a friendly hand to hold whenever he underwent dental surgery, a habit he hadn’t kicked until he was twenty-eight”.

    Twenty-eight years old, he was.

  • I remember that Andrew Ellard once posted that he knew how far the writing of The Last Human genuinely got, but he wasn’t permitted to divulge it

    Who?

  • I remember that Andrew Ellard once posted that he knew how far the writing of The Last Human genuinely got, but he wasn’t permitted to divulge it

    Who?

    Andrew Ellard was a big Red Dwarf fan, who eventually oversaw the Red Dwarf website, then helped produce the Red Dwarf DVD’s and extra content, and eventually ended up Script Editor for the show during the Dave era.

    Working-class kid makes good!

  • Andrew Ellard is that guy in the book of records for chugging the most spaghetti I think

    That disgusting I am now seeing in my head spaghetti on sweater I feel like do a vomit now.

  • I remember that Andrew Ellard once posted that he knew how far the writing of The Last Human genuinely got, but he wasn’t permitted to divulge it

    Who?
    Andrew Ellard was a big Red Dwarf fan, who eventually oversaw the Red Dwarf website, then helped produce the Red Dwarf DVD’s and extra content, and eventually ended up Script Editor for the show during the Dave era.
    Working-class kid makes good!

    I see and you are finding this impressive for why?

  • Chapter 6

    Series VII suffers from a proliferation of simile gags and there is a shocker here: ‘His mouth felt drier than a med student party at 11:45 on a Saturday night.’ Pretty feeble.

    The Neil Diamond reference is a little dated and it was probably dated as soon as it was released. Pulp Fiction having come out in 1994, and since then he has rightfully been recognized as a bit of a legend.

    The use of the RBS initials is indeed incredibly obscure, and I wonder how many people were befuddled by it at the time in the days before the DVD releases.

    The orang-utan foetus is the one aspect of hell that approaches Rob’s Dwarf, but it is otherwise fairly cuddly.

    The reference towards Syrian soaps must also be one of the more obscure gags about other nations in Dwarf history.

    It’s a nice little sleight of hand at the start of the chapter to place Lister in the wrong room, though.

  • Series VII suffers from a proliferation of simile gags and there is a shocker here: ‘His mouth felt drier than a med student party at 11:45 on a Saturday night.’ Pretty feeble.

    This is also one of those jokes I’m not sure I’m interpreting correctly. Does it mean dry in the sense of dull and boring, or dry in the sense that they’ve already polished off all the booze? I read it as the former but I’m not sure I’m right.

    (I’m wary of creating another Cinzano Bianco situation here.)

  • This is also one of those jokes I’m not sure I’m interpreting correctly. Does it mean dry in the sense of dull and boring, or dry in the sense that they’ve already polished off all the booze? I read it as the former but I’m not sure I’m right.

    I read it as the latter, but now I’m not so sure that I’m right either! :)

  • Chapter 7

    I can’t say that I am as enamoured with Kochanski’s portrayal in this book as some seem to be. Yes, it is better than in Series VII, but that is not exactly high praise…

    In this chapter she is again rather clumsily removed from the action, purely so that another chunk of Series VI material can be utilized.

    Her line, “You never think ahead, you mookle” also makes me think about how Chloe would have delivered it, and it’s not a pleasant thought.

    The ‘love custard’ scene is amusing, but feels a little obvious.

    I do think that the line, “I’m a Pisces and she’s part smegging hippopotamus” works quite well. It’s a worthwhile alteration of something from the TV show, as opposed to the straightforward lifting of dialog that has happened so many times up to now.

  • I see and you are finding this impressive for why?

    Kris made the mistake of being a decent human taking your question in good faith. Stop being a prick and just engage with this place normally. I’m getting a little tired of all the comment threads getting derailed by you and your mates.

  • This is also one of those jokes I’m not sure I’m interpreting correctly. Does it mean dry in the sense of dull and boring, or dry in the sense that they’ve already polished off all the booze? I read it as the former but I’m not sure I’m right.

    I read it as the latter, but now I’m not so sure that I’m right either! :)

    Definitely the medical students are in the alcoholics chair.

  • I think a lot of it depends on your experiences with medical students. I had medical student friends who were fun people and big drinkers, but I also knew ones that were deeply boring people.

  • I see and you are finding this impressive for why?

    Kris made the mistake of being a decent human taking your question in good faith. Stop being a prick and just engage with this place normally. I’m getting a little tired of all the comment threads getting derailed by you and your mates.

    I not understand I am afraid sorry cheers

  • I can sorta see why she Doug wrote her abit different in series 7. she basically had to take Rimmers place in that dynamic. and Doug probably felt he was making her flawed and interesting, which would also create a comedic environment.

    He obviously got rid of it in Series 8 and tried to make her fit in more subtle.

  • I not understand I am afraid sorry cheers

    Hmm. Forgive me, but I’m really getting the impression from you that you’re hearing what you want to hear…

  • ELEVEN

    Kochanski seems rather nonchalant about the fact that she recently carried twin boys until Lister and her fucked them out of existence. Just one of a number of awkward truths of the two of them seeming to have a forwards perception of time while living in a Backwards reality. Never mind; she’s making plans to settle down and raise a new *forwards* family. Bit callous?

  • TWELVE

    Lister explains to his other self, why he’s in this dimension. I’m reading this on Kindle, but I recall the blurb talking about Rimmer “forgetting to carry a two when calculating the path out of the omnizone”. (I may have that slightly wrong). Anyway, that joke never made it into the prose which always struck me as weird, as it’s undeniably Dwarfy but it wasn’t clear if it was Doug who wrote it.

    “The door opened and two identical heads peered into the car pound”

    So this has been bothering me for 26 years. The other Lister is supposed to be bald. We are told that heads are shaved before the enter Cyberia – and they seem to remain shaven headed for their duration of their sentence based on prose and even the artwork of the book.

    It’s unlikely that the Listers could be mistaken for one another with such a key visual difference. I hope that doesn’t come up.

  • THIRTEEN

    You remember how in Infinity and Better Than Life, all of Lister’s exchanges with Kochanski – even their romantic heart-to-hearts- were described in prose, rather than recited in dialogue?

    God, I miss that. “Frog Prince?”

    I can’t recall if this is contradicted later in the novel, so I’ll mention it now. The Thorntons vs The Wilmots. Is the suggestion here that the two Listers chose differently, and that’s how their paths diverged? (That clearly doesn’t work – but I’m not sure if that’s the intention)

    And we end this part with a description of a masterplan as devised by a Star Trek villain.

  • That clearly doesn’t work – but I’m not sure if that’s the intention

    I think it’s the intention. Why doesn’t it work?

  • Because if that’s the diverging path, it’s a choice made by a (solo) Lister, based on which couple he can manipulate more. That doesn’t imply particularly nice things about *our* Lister.

  • Ah, I get it. So we have to assume that there’s something inherently different about that Lister for him to make a different choice.

    I suppose that’s true of all of these branching choice-based parallel universes though. There has to be something inherently different for the alternate choice to be made (whether it’s Lister choosing different foster parents or the school choosing to keep Rimmer down a year) – otherwise they would make the same choice as they did in our reality.

    Obviously it has a different impact though when it’s something inherent to one of our lead characters, and they’re the ones actively making the diverging choice (as opposed to it being an external decision that’s foisted on them, like the Ace Rimmer example).

    Maybe we can headcanon it that some unpleasant external influence negatively affected alt-Lister’s personality at an early age, leading him to make a different choice to our Lister.

  • Yeah, it’s making some pretty sweeping statements about nature vs nurture. I think it’s a given that Lister was a bit rough and ready when he was younger, but the 7 year old Lister described in Thirteen already seems sociopathic based on his choice to go for the nasty Thorntons. I was reminded of Eric Cartman cosying up to Mr Jefferson because he likes his toyroom.

    Lister being pushed onto the straight and narrow (which it’s implied the Willmots did), is also covered in Backwards with Lewis Pemberton. But I buy that – because it’s not someone radically overhauling their personality due to an outside influence, but just adjusting their values.

  • It’s been so long since I read Backwards that I’ve forgotten all about that. I’ll have to keep this in mind for when we get to that point.

  • Chapter 8

    While there is a slight feeling of filler about this chapter, I think it does a decent job of expanding on the scenes in Emohawk. The sex scene is amusing and it’s something that couldn’t really have been shown in a BBC sitcom. It’s nice though to hypothetically imagine Rob and Doug submitting a treatment to Janet Street Porter stating, ‘Many elaborate and expensive Kinitawowi costumes required in order that a besuited Steven Wickham may bring Craig Charles to climax.’ :)

    Instead we can listen to Craig recreating this scene in the audiobook which once heard can never be forgotten.

  • Chapter 9

    I think the crowded nature of Doug’s universe really starts to confuse things here. We’ve already had Gelfs, holograms, mechanoids, Kinitawowi and the Snuiraffe, so bringing in the Dolochimp and Dolochimp soldiers seems excessive. It all feels a little messy and gets in the way a little of the storytelling element – the solid idea that they must cut the electricity line to make it to Cyberia. I don’t really feel much drama as the time ticks down due to the convoluted nature of the plot.

    While there’s nothing particularly wrong with how Kochanski is written here, I don’t think her presence has a positive effect on the chemistry of the group. To have her ordering Rimmer about doesn’t really add anything of value imo. It would also have been difficult for any actress to have made that work. I doubt whether anyone who watched the first six series felt that the show was missing a really competent character to complete things.

  • Chapter 10

    ‘Kochanski fell across the truck which was somehow defying gravity.’ The use of the word ‘somehow’ here is perhaps indicative of Doug’s rather slapdash approach to detail. :)

    While Lister breaking into the colony ought to be a dramatic idea, I find the whole thing a little too confusing and overwritten. Trying to picture the geographical layout of Cyberia is tricky when you have the deformed dozen, Alberogs (?!?), Gelfs, Cyberian guards and the Dolochimp all featuring in this chapter and all confusing things.

    These distractions make Lister’s meeting with his other self and his ‘death’ a lot less impactful than they ought to have been.

    I think there are plenty of interesting ideas in this book, but some judicious editing would have helped. The same can probably be said for much of Doug’s Dwarf.

  • There is a sequence in the book i always found uncomfortable. its when Listers drowning and the book is describing it in detail, and if you have a fear of drowning, its enough to put you off ever going swimming again.

    I do think in that section of the book there are moments where i did wonder why lister wasn’t dead already. Lister gets knocked out several times in what seems like a span of a few hours. wouldn’t he have a concussion after all that?

  • To be honest, if you were knocked out and stayed unconscious for more than a couple of minutes you’d probably end up with brain damage anyway, but that’s not stopped it being used as a trope in every remotely action-based film, TV show and book ever.

  • Well, we know from Bobby hurting his hand in Demons & Angels that Craig has a steel skull, so maybe Lister is the same.

  • Thanks to the Texas power outage I’m half way through reading Last Human (great for my attention span, shit for everything else). Alternate Lister having his head shaved does somewhat fuck things up but could be explained by the fact that no other characters see the two Listers together and maybe evil Lister came up with an explanation that we weren’t party to. I’m enjoying it as an ambitious departure from the first two novels but when I got it for my 15th birthday in 1995 I was disappointed.

  • Lister’s zero-g sequence feels like a follow-up to the acid rain bit in BTL. An action setpiece with him alone, alternately fumbling and being ingenious… and built on a science-ish idea that doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny… but still very tense and exciting. Also both are bookended by bouts of unconsciousness.

  • Chapter 11

    I appreciate Doug here trying to belatedly add some heart to the story. The backwards stuff doesn’t really stand up to much scrutiny (though I like the line, “pus hurled itself off mirrors into their faces”), but it’s right that an attempt is made to explore how Kochanski would really have felt about this insane situation.

    A big issue with how significant she is in this entire section, is that there are precious few pages dedicated to Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat. Their roles have been significantly reduced in the first half of this book, and many of the moments that they do have are lifted wholesale from the TV series.

  • Chapter 12

    While I can’t say that I love this whole ‘Evil Lister’ section, I feel that the book is getting back to where it should be at this point. There have been so many distractions over the past few chapters, I’d almost started to forget the specifics about the alternate crew at the start of the book. In fact, I had to go back to re-read that section as I couldn’t remember anything about the alternate Kochanski dying.

  • Apologies to the Book Clubbers, but we’ll now be spending this weekend frying up some special waffles to cover recent events, so you all have an extra week to catch up and give us your thoughts if needed.

  • Do you think that you guys would consider continuing the book clubs after Backwards with Rob’s solo stuff?

    Obviously it would be more niche, but still interesting to discuss.

  • Do you think that you guys would consider continuing the book clubs after Backwards with Rob’s solo stuff?

    Obviously it would be more niche, but still interesting to discuss.

    Personally I think that’s a good idea but we’ve got a very specific, and different, idea for what will follow the Book Club.

  • we’ve got a very specific, and different, idea for what will follow the Book Club.

    Is it the stickers from the DVD sleeves?

  • Is it the stickers from the DVD sleeves?

    I’m surprised we didn’t get a full John Hoare review on those.

  • Chapters 7 and 8

    We’ve already had mentions of Emo-smugglers and Emo-traders, and here the bit of background about the Kinitawowis talks about Gelfs trading in emotions and memories. Which is weird, because it seems like it’s setting up the Emohawk, but then we basically get that episode up to the point where the Kinitawowi set the Emohawk on the crew, but that doesn’t happen and then they’re off to Cyberia. It might be that I’ve forgotten more of this novel than I thought, but I don’t remember this stuff being expanded on, nothing about Polymorphs or why emotions are even a commodity, so it seems vague and pretty superfluous.

    I do think that the line, “I’m a Pisces and she’s part smegging hippopotamus” works quite well.

    I agree, except that in the first novel when he’s applying to join the Space Corps, Lister and Caldicott estimate Lister’s birthday is October 14th, based on when he was found and roughly how old he was. This would make him a Libra. But I guess if TV Lister can have two appendixes, novel Lister can somehow have two star signs.

  • nothing about Polymorphs or why emotions are even a commodity, so it seems vague and pretty superfluous.

    Yes, it’s one of those strange moments which feels like you’re required to have watched the TV version to actually get what’s going on. Which is fine, I can’t imagine there’d be too many readers who weren’t already fans anyway, but it’s still a bit strange.

  • Catching up on these ‘casts, they’re great. The first book is my favourite individual entry in Red Dwarf (even up against a series’ worth of episodes… maybe) and BTL is a far-out sequel.

    I can’t be arsed to read Last Human again, but “lifeform incomplete” was funny. Backwards is in the post.

  • Chapter 13

    I feel this is the most successful chapter for some time, as we are really getting to what the nub of the story ought to be. You would expect at this point for the second half of the book to feature a lengthy and suspenseful interaction between the rest of the crew and ‘Evil Lister’.

    I also find this section intriguing because the contents of the box are genuinely a mystery. In other sections we know that the main crew are not really going to die which impacts on the drama, but here we have a moment where Doug could do anything with the plot.

  • Chapter 14

    Not sure that I really buy into the idea of the genome of all known DNA, and it will be interesting to see how well Doug can resolve that part of the plot in the second half of the book.

  • Just a comment about the cover, but I believe it was Bill Gregory who designed both this and the Backwards cover.

    Can I ask where you got this from?

  • Hey peeps, we’re recording the ‘Cast on Sunday Afternoon, so make sure you get your comments & thoughts in if you haven’t already if you want them to be considered for inclusion.

    Cheers!

  • Just a comment about the cover, but I believe it was Bill Gregory who designed both this and the Backwards cover.

    Can I ask where you got this from?

    I think it’s on the official website on the ‘I’ve Never Read a Book…’ page.

  • Just a comment about the cover, but I believe it was Bill Gregory who designed both this and the Backwards cover.

    Can I ask where you got this from?
    I think it’s on the official website on the ‘I’ve Never Read a Book…’ page.

    Ah! Of course.

    That also helps answer who did the illustrations for Last Human’s chapters. Mark Wilkinson, who also did the remastered artwork for the video covers and other Dwarfy stuff. Cheers!

  • Just thought that Rimmer’s age-defying stasis scheme from book one would have succeeded beyond his dreams if he’d stayed alive to accompany Lister on these adventures and ended up subjectively over 100 years old in the same rejuvenated skin by books three.

  • I’ll have said before somewhere, I’m sure, but I’m not really a big fan of Last Human. Not read it in a good while for that particular reason, and prior to this last ‘cast, had read about 15 pages.
    Aaanyway. Thought I’d catch up with the rest of you before I listen to the next one. I’m now past the Kinatowowi scenes, and the line, “Oh my God, he was close to climax,” which is something which has s̶t̶u̶c̶k̶ stayed with me for the past 25 years.

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