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[Insert Holly line relevant to a delayed thing eventually happening here]

Yes, it’s finally here! Danny, Ian and Cappsy once again put on their best dust jackets, turn on their pink study lamps and somehow defy the laws of gravity to bring you another DwarfCast Book Club! This time around we’re putting the chapter Time Fork to bed (but not before marrying it first) as the crew unwittingly murder hundreds in order to free a dangerous psychopath, and Anton Chekhov becomes the sixth Dwarfer.

DwarfCast 130 – Book Club #9: Last Human (Part Two) (100.7MB)

Next time round we’ll tackling roughly half of the third and final part of the book, The Rage. The first 10 chapters, in fact, so get reading and commenting, you bastards.

Show notes

76 comments on “DwarfCast 130 – Book Club #9: Last Human (Part Two)

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  • Enjoyed that very much. I think you have me convinced on evil-Lister not actually being very believable as a true alternate Lister – a bit more work needed there to really make it work I think. Like a lot of this book.

    Also, I’d completely forgotten that they ‘do’ DNA later on in this novel. The more I read of it the more I realise I only remember about half of it in any detail.

  • The weird thing is, up until the escape chapter, everything we see about Evil Lister feels very much like Lister. The same attitude, similar tastes. It’s only when he meets our Lister that he suddenly becomes so different.

    Poor plotting and characterisation in Last Human? Never.

  • I just thought it was him having a bit of a long think.

    Yeah, having thought about it I’m convinced he’s formulating his human plan. It’s such a cool dramatic moment, though. I like how it’s so ambiguous.

  • I thought of something really important to comment whilst listening to this, but I was cleaning the car at the time so couldn’t. Now I’ve forgotten and it’s really frustrating.

    Hope you enjoy this comment instead.

  • Hope you enjoy this comment instead.

    No, I won’t.

    it is surely better than a page on Lister ejaculating into a hippo

  • I think I remembered the important thing i was going to comment.

    Isn’t it in Better Than Life that it is confirmed there are only 7 universes? And all but “ours” runs backwards. That was something Holly had figured out and decided it made more sense or something.

    So, the existence of this universe doesn’t make sense. Let alone the fact the “evil Lister” is somehow the same age as ours despite our Lister being well over 100.

    Doug is writing from the perspective of someone who has since written Dimension Jump since the last book he wrote.

    On the comment of Kochanski being quite ok about having just lowered two sons and unbirthed them … neither her nor Lister seem at all phases by having spent 30 or 40 years de-aging and then deciding to just go and live forwards again.

    Lister ought to have some quite serious PTSD from living on Garbage World alone, then dying, then undying, de-aging, watching his kids un-grow, and then just happily deciding to leave that behind and go BACK to the universe he knows there’s nothing for him … except Kochanski again now. But like, surely at some point, after living 2 lives would think you maybe draw the line at the 3rd considering neither were great.

  • Doesn’t look like anyone has found it yet. *cheeky giggle*

    We’re all just too polite to say.

  • Isn’t it in Better Than Life that it is confirmed there are only 7 universes? And all but “ours” runs backwards. That was something Holly had figured out and decided it made more sense or something.
    So, the existence of this universe doesn’t make sense. Let alone the fact the “evil Lister” is somehow the same age as ours despite our Lister being well over 100.
    Doug is writing from the perspective of someone who has since written Dimension Jump since the last book he wrote

    Chapter 1 of Time Fork explains that all rejected timelines get stored in the Omni-zone. It mentions the seven Universes as well, but basically Doug’s doing a bit of a retcon so that now there’s infinite realities. So what exactly the seven Universes are is unclear. I reckon in one of them everyone’s got tails like at the end of The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse.

  • Isn’t it in Better Than Life that it is confirmed there are only 7 universes? And all but “ours” runs backwards. That was something Holly had figured out and decided it made more sense or something.

    So, the existence of this universe doesn’t make sense. Let alone the fact the “evil Lister” is somehow the same age as ours despite our Lister being well over 100.
    Doug is writing from the perspective of someone who has since written Dimension Jump since the last book he wrote
    Chapter 1 of Time Fork explains that all rejected timelines get stored in the Omni-zone. It mentions the seven Universes as well, but basically Doug’s doing a bit of a retcon so that now there’s infinite realities. So what exactly the seven Universes are is unclear.

    You don’t expect me to pay attention to a book I’m reading do you?!

    Also, fucking hell Doug!

  • Has anyone mentioned the fact that in the books, the backwards stuff is all set in a different universe, whereas in the TV version it’s set in the future?
    Well I have now. It’s not even that interesting, but it is a significant difference.

  • Has anyone mentioned the fact that in the books, the backwards stuff is all set in a different universe, whereas in the TV version it’s set in the future?

    The explanation that backwards Earth is ‘our’ Earth rewinding is one of many things contradicted within the episode itself. See: how writing and news reporting work.

    Lister’s age and experiences are something you only really dwell on when you’re reading these back to back, I’d never even thought about his subjective age before now. Getting physically rejuvenated (we see how this affects him more in Backwards) and returning to your former life might make it easier to move on and slip seamlessly back into Red Dwarf VI cockpit gags like you’ve never been away.

  • I was thinking it was like Rory in Doctor Who choosing to ignore his off-screen millennia, but I suppose it’s a bit like regeneration too. Lister still needs to have his right-way-round, non-simulated twins now he’s had those practice runs.

  • The explanation that backwards Earth is ‘our’ Earth rewinding is one of many things contradicted within the episode itself. See: how writing and news reporting work.

    See also, how we don’t have a massive time hole looming above a park in Manchester.

  • Doesn’t look like anyone has found it yet. *cheeky giggle*

    Having already read this comment, I’ve just paused the DwarfCast and found it. Hoping to see that in a new banner soon :D

  • When Bobby talks about auditioning for Kryten in the Series III documentary, he says he did funny walks for Rob and Doug including the ‘Douglas Bader special’ and thought he’d blown it when he realised Doug has a false leg. Doug being a uniped didn’t occur to me while I was reading this but yeah, it’s interesting to see him writing characters with missing limbs and mining that for humour, naming them Righty and Lefty and so on. Not sure which one is meant to be ‘Bader’, as none of them are described as having no legs. Well, except the one that’s just a hand.

    Re Mechanoids having spit, Kryten licks the envelope to seal it in BITR. And doesn’t he say he’s part organic in DNA? I’d totally forgotten that’s coming up in Last Human, too.

    The Wilmots being a deliberate reference to Gary is my new favourite fan theory. Great DwarfCast. Oh fucking hell time to watch Timewave again.

  • it’s interesting to see him writing characters with missing limbs and mining that for humour, naming them Righty and Lefty and so on.

    Lest we forget Three Feet Productions (please…)

  • Well a highly enjoyable rummage through a lesser explored piece of Dwarf lore, obviously you can’t expect perfection with a third novel analysis, but I was quite delighted with the influx of dad jokes. These are delightful and I’m reading along with you all.

  • I had Craig Charles Live on Earth on audio tape in 1995 so I definitely assumed Wilmot was a deliberate dig from Doug.

  • A quote from an Independent article:

    ‘Craig Charles recalls his worst moment during the three and a half months he spent on remand in Wandsworth Prison. He was approached by a mean-looking skinhead with “Hate” and “Love” tattooed on his fingers and knuckles that scraped the floor. Thrusting his face to within inches of Charles’s, he eyeballed the comedian and snarled: “You’re Gary Wilmot, aren’t you?” “He should have beaten me up,” Charles wails, “it would have been less painful.”‘

  • Doug being a uniped didn’t occur to me while I was reading this but yeah, it’s interesting to see him writing characters with missing limbs and mining that for humour, naming them Righty and Lefty and so on.

    Red Dwarf is replete with synthetic/detachable limbs/heads/eyes/genitalia from Future Echoes onwards, I have insensitively wondered about this.

  • “You’re Gary Wilmot, aren’t you?” “He should have beaten me up,” Charles wails, “it would have been less painful.”‘

    Funny guy!

  • “Y’know, Craig? We share the same two hobbies: Celebrities and disfigurement.”
    “Wouldn’t it be great if we could combine the two?”

  • The Rage – Chapter One

    Firstly, another pet peeve of mine and another awful simile gag: “…his senior scientific adviser was madder than one of those New York bag ladies who pull around stuffed dogs on leads.”

    Otherwise, how people feel about the second half of the book will probably depend a lot on how much they can buy into the idea of Rimmer’s son (albeit from a different dimension). I have quite a big problem with the fact that two of the main Rimmer concepts in the novel (the retconning of the reason for his brothers’ achievements, and now the presence of his son) are so far removed from the character that we know in the TV series.

    Doug seems much more comfortable writing about Lister in Last Human.

  • Chapter Two

    “A dolorous rain sprinkled its melancholia…” is a neatly poetic way to kick off this chapter.

    I also quite like, “he defended himself, and several weeks later, due to the incompetence of his legal team, he was sentenced to eighteen years hard thought in Cyberia.” Much better than the “You defended yourself” rewrite of the joke in Series VIII.

    The reference towards Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is another miss and Rob and Doug’s attempts to knock fairly modern pieces of pop culture have generally not aged too well (I’m sure there are exceptions).

    A big problem that I have with this chapter is that you have implausible characters like the Snugiraffe and the Dolochimp trying to explain an implausible idea. It makes it kind of impenetrable to me.

  • A big problem that I have with this chapter is that you have implausible characters like the Snugiraffe and the Dolochimp trying to explain an implausible idea. It makes it kind of impenetrable to me.

    Oh but Lister can penetrate them alright!

  • The Rage

    I remember seeing that image as a kid and it looking really cool and just wondering where the hell this book was going. It’s so un-Dwarfy.

    Ein: Ah yes, the usual opening chapter that takes you to a completely different place and time.
    A president thinking of the economy and putting millions of lives in danger as a result? It’ll never happen.
    Not sure if him being Nixon’s great-great-etc nephew really works comedically. It just feels a bit laboured.
    Chekhov’s McGruder just went off.
    The irony of the president’s mind wandering at a list of technobabble in a book full of Doug using unnecessary initialisms and technobabble really is quite staggering.
    I like the idea of the three Longmans. It feels like a Dave era joke.
    Ah, it’s the ridiculous GELF creatures origin story. I’m still not convinced, especially by Doug hanging a lampshade on the Snugiraffe.
    The Red Dwarf black box landing on Earth is a really nice touch.
    Rimmer the space hero. Yes, I’ll come back to that.

    Zwei: I’d totally forgotten the whole innocent incarceration aspect was actually explained. There’s some really nice plotting in this book. Another chapter almost bereft of jokes (post-cyberhell, at least) but adds another strand to the already plot-heavy story.

    Drei: Ah yes, a main character with an unpronounceable name. Thanks, Doug. Reketrebn is basically just a fleshed out Camille, isn’t it? Only with a more rapey, forced prostitution kind of vibe. At least Lister’s sexual morals have returned somewhat.
    The sofa bit is pure Grant Naylor, wonderfully daft. An appearance of yaks as comedy animal again.
    Lister’s brains coming into play here, with the Kryten scene. I really like this bit, it’s one of the few scenes from the book I always remember. The Rimmer / Kochanski reveal is interesting, I can’t remember how important it is in the long run.

    Vier: Bit more backstory. Other than his mental image of superRimmer, no jokes.

    Fünf: I quite like the twist that Lister ends up going to the place he’s trying to escape, although the whole thing really only exists to get Reketrebn along with him.

    Sechs: Kryten seems pretty surprised about Lister so I think the end of Time Fork wasn’t about his suspicions.
    I like Listers two appendixes being properly canonised here. Very slightly meta.
    Star Fleet and Space Corps both mentioned in the report about Lister. Fucks same Doug.
    Doug realised the zero gravity lake wouldn’t happen and retcons an explanation.
    Ah, here’s something interesting – the GELF ship attack is a book element that would be reused in VII. Totally forgot about that!

    Sieben: A completely new – and funny – VI- style Starbug / cockpit scene! “It’s thicker than me” made me laugh. There are echoes of Gunmen and Back to Reality with the lava and ocean.

    Acht: “Rimmer nodded courteously. ‘Thanks, Krytie.’”
    Ok, who are you and what have you done with our Rimmer?
    Oh, hello, it’s DNA.
    Kryten would not say “hubba-hubba”.
    Ah, the new McGruder back story. It’s a lot warmer, and at the same time much, much more tragic. I’m just not sure the fact that, effectively, Lister is to blame does Rimmer’s character any favours. Much like the enhancement chips his brother had, it justifies Rimmer blaming Lister for his problems, and thus makes him less neurotic and interesting.
    Turning Rimmer into a chicken is funnier than Lister, but another lampshade is present. “I don’t know how.” It could just have been Kochanski.
    Rimmerphant, Rimmeroo, “Red Dwarf’s finest,” ok the lampshade is forgiven.

    Neun: back to the evocative sci-fi adventure. Not really much to say here.

    Zehn: Ah, hello, it’s Quarantine.
    Chekhov’s Virus makes an appearance.

    That felt like a section of two very distinct halves: the Starbug stuff was funny, quick-paced, and a good mixture of original funny stuff and nicely adapted TV material. Tying together Quarantine, DNA and elements of the Lister plot was all done very well.
    The Lister stuff was narratively good, atmospheric and really imaginative, but lacking in any humour at all.

  • Chapter 3

    The novels have always been slightly bleaker than the TV show, but the inclusion of a morphing sex slave is particularly grim. While the scenes where she changes into a sofa are amusing, I can’t say that I enjoy this section too much.

    Doug’s obsession with initials is apparent again with Lister’s question to the yak dung of, “…should I call you YD?” Bizarre.

    Things pick up when the forms of Kochanski, Rimmer and particularly Kryten appear. Although this idea is similar to moments in a few different episodes, it still feels much more successful to me than things like the Dingotang. A decent erection gag, too.

  • Chapter 4

    Oh good, Michael McGruder is back again…

    The writing here feels incredibly heavy handed…”he’d never be the man his father was, but damn it all to hell no man could be.” The constant repetition of these sentiments is really tedious and unsubtle.

    I’m also not entirely sure why we are supposed to care about this son from another dimension. This book has already established that alternate versions of the characters can be entirely different, so this chapter is a waste of paper for me.

  • Chapter 5

    There are elements of this chapter that remind me of Polymorph, Emohawk and Terminator 2, but there are still some smart and amusing moments during Lister’s escape.

    I can also see the comedy in the twist ending of them boarding the very ship that they were trying to escape from. A shame that Doug resorts to using the word “somehow” to explain it. “Somehow we’ve wound up on it.”

  • I read chapter one of part three the other night and I’m really struggling to find the motivation to continue. Rimmer’s son is just too much. I’m not interested. I don’t want to read about these characters in this book. Even though I have before and I will just to finish the podcast. I’m reminded why I bloody hate it so much.

    Not to mention Doug seems to be further retconning himself but added this dying sun into the solar system when only just in his last book did he have the Earth fart it’s way out of orbit and off into deep space.

  • ONE

    It sticks out to me how Sabinsky, who operates as Basil Exposition for this chapter, is not described at all, either in appearance or personality; while we’re told instantly that Sabinsky’s bodyguard has a “clean, crisp face and short yellow hair like an over-harvested field of wheat”. Gee, I wonder which of these characters will immediately disappear and which one will play a prominent role?

    All of the Longman clones have small black beards. I gues they’re all the evil one, then.

    Rob apparently read Last Human to ensure he didn’t nick any stuff when he wrote Backwards, but I see parallels here with the Tranter chapters in that novel. We pop off to another dimension and introduce a heroic, throughly boring, character who will be mingling with our crew later and will primarily operate as a reminder of how useless Rimmer is.

    I’ll say it now. Michael McGruder is the absolute worst character in Red Dwarf. I’d rather Birdman had appeared in this novel.

    TWO

    This chapter is the one where you flick back on first read and realise that all of that stuff in Part 1, Chapter 1 was a flash-forward and not character development for the other Lister. I remain in two minds about this whole thing. It’s a way of protecting the “twist” that the other Lister is evil as we never get inside his head until the switch has happened, but let’s not pretend that the twist is actually much cop in the first place.

    I’m puzzled by the need to work in Cyberia. What happens if Lister can’t afford a cup of sprout soup? He’s clearly not eating out of enjoyment, so is he eating to survive?

    Apparently, Evil Lister was tried and convicted of emo-smuggling. This contradicts what the Regulator told Kryten he’d been convicted of (future counts of looting, plundering and multiple murders).

    Beyond that, Evil Lister was imprisoned because he was innocent of emo-smuggling and so would be a good fit for the Reco programme. Good Lister, however, is guilty of breaking into Cyberia and causing havoc. Why has he been chosen for this?

    Why do these nutters think that people who have been wrongfully imprisoned for months is the best recipe for a new gestalt entirety? I could understand if they whipped them out after a week, but the longer you leave it, surely the more bitter and resentful they’re going to get?

  • THREE

    Rektrebn always reminded me of Martia (a shapeshifting prisoner) from Star Trek VI rather than anything in Red Dwarf. Can of Worms has since arrived though. She is essentially a plot-device and, if I recall, Doug can’t think of a thing to do with her later in the novel.

    The conversation with the “fake Kryten” is definitely the most interesting moment this novel has conjured up for quite a while. I like the revelation that Kryten just confirms things that Lister doesn’t have the confidence in expressing. It taps into the pseudo-science from Demons and Angels;

    “This is my guess:  your mind records everything – everything you see, hear, every word you read, every conversation — it’s all stored in your subconscious”

  • Chapter 6

    There are things in this chapter that work, and things that really don’t imo…

    Right: Kryten simply stating, “Sir, we’re being attacked” while a deranged Lister is trying to kill him rings true. I can absolutely imagine Robert delivering that line.

    Slightly wrong: The repeated, “Where’s Lister?” feels off. Even under those circumstances, I can only picture Robert saying, “Where’s Mr. Lister?”

    Very wrong: The chapter ends with Kryten’s face ‘saturated in smiles’ and laugher echoing around the mid-section. This occurs only a short time after he has learned of Lister’s supposed death. If it stated that he allowed himself a wry smile or that he gave a bitter laugh, I could understand it. His reaction here just doesn’t feel authentic, though.

    The return of the Kinitawowi is a neat way to get rid of the evil Lister, but the speed with which it happens all makes it feel very perfunctory. His presence with the crew ought to have made for a dramatic second half of the book if it had been handled correctly, but even though we know that weeks have elapsed it is all described far too quickly.

    Broadly speaking I feel the difference sometimes between Rob’s and Doug’s writing, is that Doug might try to cram 9 ideas into 2 episodes whereas Rob might try to stretch 2 ideas over 9 episodes. One of many reasons why they were stronger together than apart. There are far too many ideas in this book though, and that is already apparent across the first 6 chapters of this section.

  • A correction for Doug: water would clump together in microgravity, due to the adhesive force of surface tension.

    Also, there’s a character in Big Finish’s Torchwood continuation audios called Orr who’s a shape-shifting former sex slave, represented in monochrome on the covers. I wonder if Reketrebn was an inspiration.

    And I’d like to hear some comments on the depiction of Michael McGruder in those DJ videos!

  • FOUR

    The reader’s established knowledge of Rimmer is doing a LOT of heavy lifting here. Rimmer has had as much to do in this novel as The Cat so far, so his son’s preconceptions of him are only misguided based on a knowledge of the TV show and the earlier books. We’ve been told *why* Rimmer is a failure (the encyclochip crapness) but we’ve yet to see any examples of it, beyond some minor moments of cowardice.

    The big thing in the early years of the show was that Rimmer was responsible for the fate of Red Dwarf. That’s not the case in the novels. But here’s McGruder screwing up and dooming his ship (and the future of the human race) to a horrible fate. Remember this when they meet…

    Is the appearance of the Simulants here the sole reason Rob went with Agonoids for Backwards?

    SIX

    Lister’s ‘medical history’ seems questionable since he spent 40 years in a Backwards reality. If the false earlobe is (somehow) a reference to the acid rain in BTL, where’s the hole in his hand by the same logic? And where’s the U=BTL scar?

    Anyway, all of this to get to a revelation that means next to nothing because we’ve had barely a chapter of Evil Lister pretending to be Lister.

    “I agree with Dr Thompson that his personality disorder is caused by both genetic and environmental influences”

    So this *is* our Lister but just with a different foster family. Again, what is the novel saying about Lister?

    A sneak peek for a bit from Ouroboros? Just what I always wanted.

    SEVEN

    Kryten believes they “left behind” Lister in Cyberia , rather than the much more likely explanation that “Lister is dead”.

    I pretty much detest all of the Cat’s VI similes, but “It’s thicker than me” is absolute bottom-of-the-barrel crap.

  • CHAPTER 1

    Aside from being a largely not-very-funny chapter that mostly exists to do some heavy lifting for the plot, the logistics of McGruder knowing about Rimmer being revived as a hologram don’t make sense to me (and that’s if you buy that McGruder somehow got off Red Dwarf before the accident, which is a bit of a contrivance in itself). In the novels Rimmer being resurrected as a hologram only happened some time after Lister came out of stasis, so Holly must have sent out the Red Dwarf black box after that and it got back to Earth… and went back in time… somehow?

    (Black Box: Ride On Time feels like an Idea for an Episode waiting to happen.)

    And that’s without all the ways this contradicts Garbage World. But insert standard disclaimer about Red Dwarf and continuity etc.

    CHAPTER 2

    The gag about the incompetence of Lister’s legal team is a simple one, but it made me laugh. 

    Lister in cyberhell is quite creatively depressing. And the rain-drenched neon and prevalence of advertising signs all feels very Blade Runner. 

    Of all the ’80s/’90s references in Red Dwarf, an encyclopedia salesman might be the most dated-feeling of all.

    Like a lot of this book, all the stuff about DNA and terraforming here is laid on really thick but also feels a bit rushed through, like story notes in novel form. Science-fiction is basically in the realms of magic in this book, and there’s a bit too much in the way of big fantastical concepts all floating around together without really taking the time to explore what they mean.

    I feel like Red Dwarf is at its best when it takes just one interesting sci-fi idea and crafts a compelling, character-based story around it. Here there’s an unrestrained huge sprawling mess of wild concepts and the characters often feel like they just exist to make it all happen.

    Maybe this is one of the drawbacks of an “infinite budget” novel – you simply couldn’t do all this stuff on TV, and the limitations would force you to narrow the ideas down to the essentials and focus more on the characters. 

    CHAPTER 3

    Ah, Doug knows the throw-spaghetti-at-the-wall-to-see-if-it’s-cooked trick.

    Lister can look at dung and determine exactly what animal it came from. What a skill! (Even then, “YD” took me a second. Doug does love his abbreviations.)

    The pimping of the symbi-morph is a bit brutal, but the ensuing conversation with Lister (with the changes to Kochanski and Rimmer and then Kryten – with some interesting insights about Lister’s own level of knowledge and relationship with Kryten – and then ultimately Lister himself) works well and is something I can very much imagine in a TV version. It’s a bit Camille and a bit Polymorph, with a touch of Legion sprinkled on top. Camimorphion. Polegille.

    CHAPTER 4

    Again, all the McGruder stuff just feels a bit boring and functional. I just don’t really care about it.

    CHAPTER 5

    The description of the silver puddle at the start of this chapter feels very much like the T-1000 from Terminator 2, doesn’t it? (Which would have still been fairly recent when this novel was written.) It makes me wonder whether Doug dropped that line into Chapter 3 about the symbi-morph being able to become complex machines with moving parts to distinguish it from the liquid metal terminator (which can’t do that).

    Anyway, by and large this is a fun and imaginative chapter, and it’s the flipside of the “infinite budget” of novels. Doing all this polymorph-like stuff in the TV show would have been impractical but it works well for this escape sequence.

    CHAPTER 6

    Kryten going into deep sleep feels weird. Why would he need to do that?

    This chapter pretty confirms that Kryten’s long pause at the end of the last section *wasn’t* him sussing out evil-Lister.

    The explanation of Lister’s double appendix feels out of place in the novels, where they haven’t met Legion. Just a fun in-joke I suppose. 

    Why the fuck would you need an artificial earlobe?

    The doctor’s report on Lister adds a little more detail to the nature/nurture argument about why this Lister turned out so differently to our Lister. It’s a successful (if a little late) rationalisation of how Lister’s positive personality traits – charm and cunning – could be pushed into darker territory by outside influences.

    Kryten reads this personnel file by downloading it from the other Starbug’s computer, and then alt-Lister asks him “what are the papers?”. The discrepancy isn’t explained. Did he take the time to print them out or something? Another example of the book feeling like it needs a stronger editor.

    Starbug has a nose cone now? This book makes less sense by the page.

    CHAPTER 7

    There’s that fucking nose cone again.

    “It probably don’t matter now.” Rimmer has become a cockney.

    Those sprinklers might have been useful in putting out the fire earlier. Less sense by the page.

    CHAPTER 8

    I cannot imagine Kryten saying “hubba hubba”.

    The clock faces in Kryten’s eyes remind me of the “beachballs” on Rimmer in Trojan.

    How does McGruder being convinced her fling with Rimmer was a fantasy jibe with her becoming pregnant and telling their son all about him? Less sense by the page.

    It’s DNA, but a bit less funny! (The DNA machine being able to transform the non-organic Rimmer is a head-scratcher too, and Kochanski’s explanation – which all but says “somehow” again – just hangs a lampshade on it. Less sense by the page.)

    And this chapter pretty confirms that Kryten’s long pause at the end of the last section *wasn’t* him formulating a plan to become human either.

    CHAPTER 9

    “Then a cliché happened” is a funny turn of phrase.

    CHAPTER 10

    Yeah, why not, let’s chuck Quarantine in here too. Although Kochanski’s poker lines are that rare example of the novels taking lines from the TV show and embellishing them to make them even funnier.

    Again though, it just feels like chucking loads of ideas together higgeldy-piggeldy rather than refining it all into something more coherent.

    It’s a shame to be saying this (as there is still stuff to enjoy here), but the more I read of Last Human the more I realise why so little of it has stuck in my mind compared to IWCD and BTL.

  • Honestly, the more I read of this book the more it feels like it was thrown together in a weekend. There are elements there that could all come together as a decent Red Dwarf novel but it all feels like it was quickly thrown together as a first draft, discrepancies and all, and then rushed off to the printer on Monday morning.

  • I doubt this was proof-read more than once as there’s repetitive sentences and contradictions (beyond the fanboy nitpicks) that a decent editor would have caught. I guess there was a deadline, and an expectation that it would sell well whatever, based on the success of the previous novels. Would be interested to know when Penguin were told they would be getting a “Doug Naylor” novel and not a “Grant Naylor” novel.

  • Honestly, the more I read of this book the more it feels like it was thrown together in a weekend. There are elements there that could all come together as a decent Red Dwarf novel but it all feels like it was quickly thrown together as a first draft, discrepancies and all, and then rushed off to the printer on Monday morning.

    It sort of feels to me like fanfic written by someone that has only read the blurb on the back of the VHS boxes.

    The fact this is meant to be an official 3rd novel following Infinity and BTL is laughable. I know Red Dwarf and continuity don’t go hand in hand but this is ridiculous. And nothing about the setting, the characterisation or even the terminology “symbi-morph” ?? doesn’t feel like Red Dwarf at all.

  • In some ways I do respect that this book goes further than the first two in trying to create a genuinely new story. There’s obviously still lots of bits and pieces from the tv series, but the basic storyline is essentially original. And so that might be part of why it feels a bit un-Dwarfy.

    But then there were sections of the earlier books that were original too (like the opening of IWCD, almost all the way up the the accident; and all the stuff on Garbage World in BTL) and they still felt like they captured the vibe of the show in the way that this doesn’t.

  • But insert standard disclaimer about Red Dwarf and continuity etc.

    I know Red Dwarf and continuity don’t go hand in hand but this is ridiculous.

    I don’t know what we expected, given their previous. It’s probably more annoying because the books have more of a throughline than the series, they’re a bit more serious, or just because we’re generally less familiar with them*, so get to experience the frustration that new viewers must go through all the time before they learn to let it go.

    * Though I might have listened through my abridged cassettes of the first two at bedtime more than I’ve seen any episodes for want of videos growing up, and I don’t remember ever noticing things like the vanishing Nova 5 drive back then.

  • It definitely feels like Doug was less bothered about trying to write a sequel to BTL and more just wanting to write a general Red Dwarf novel set in a more heavily populated version of the VI/VII universe. It’s always been a grand, epic novel with a lot of scope and some interesting character and sci-fi stuff, but it’s totally out of keeping with any other version of Red Dwarf, and it’s in desperate need of an editor to sort out the numerous glaring contradictions that plague it.

  • EIGHT

    “Kochanski pulled on her earlobe”
    Ah, some much-needed Kochanski characterisation. She enjoys pulling on earlobes. Maybe this is the reason Lister has a replacement earlobe?

    TEN

    The added lines of Kochanski suggesting games of Poker and Gin Rummy would have been good additions to Quarantine; shame it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Lister saying them.

    At least Chekhov’s virus is stated as such, when Kochanski announces that it will be important later on. If only she could have picked up Chekhov’s elastic band at the same time, and spared us a really clunky bit in a few chapter’s time. (It’s telling how only the crap bits in this novel stick in my head)

    DNA seems like a good choice for the “novel treatment”; it’s character-heavy and there’s more you can do with the idea than they managed in 28 minutes. However, here it just feels crowbarred in, and hampered by the fact that Kryten apparently desires to become human (as opposed to becoming one accidentally). It just seems uncharacteristically selfish for Kryten to do this to himself while they are in a pretty grim predicament.

  • It does give a slightly sinister and untrustworthy edge to Kryten, doesn’t it. I think it works better as an accident as in DNA.

  • We’re recording Part Three this coming weekend, so make sure you’ve got your comments in by the end of the week, if you haven’t given up already.

  • Chapter 7

    Despite the book’s faults, Doug was still capable of evocative writing at times: ‘The sky looked like Van Gogh’s palette on a bad day: furious hues of reds, oranges and yellows, all whipped to the point of frenzy. Beneath the sky a sea of molten lava was in an equally irascible mood.’

    Somebody mentioned this earlier in the thread, but is, “It probably don’t matter now” credited to the wrong character? “If we have to abandon ship, my suits go with the women and children.” Shouldn’t this have been the Cat’s line?

    There were plenty of good “deader than” jokes in Series VI, but “It’s deader than penny round collars” is desperately weak.

    When Kochanski is informed that the wrong Lister has been onboard ship, I think her reaction needed to be a little more. If not at this point, then certainly in the next chapter or two. The man that she loves is either dead or in hell and she simply comments, “I knew there was something wrong. I knew it.” I appreciate that the characters wouldn’t have spoken only about this over the next few chapters, but it has now been more than six months since they saw Lister and it deserved a little more acknowledgement.

    I do enjoy moments in the chapter however and, even though it borrows from Gunmen of the Apocalypse, it’s still fairly dramatic and parts are quite well-written.

  • Chapter 8

    I might be getting things completely wrong now, because there are so many concepts in this book that I get lost, but I’m not sure there was any need to retcon the McGruder story. It was established in chapter one of this section that Michael McGruder is from a quite different dimension, after all.

    We then have the DNA stuff, and is this the biggest sequence in any of the books to simply replace one character with another? With so many other things happening in the story, was it really necessary to re-use a sci-fi concept from an old episode? It just adds to the overall confusion and now it feels like wild ideas being randomly thrown together.

  • Chapter 8

    I might be getting things completely wrong now, because there are so many concepts in this book that I get lost, but I’m not sure there was any need to retcon the McGruder story. It was established in chapter one of this section that Michael McGruder is from a quite different dimension, after all

    I’m not up to Chapter 8 yet but at the end of Time Fork we’re told the Mayflower got sucked into the Omni-zone and, same as Starbug, has wound up in a different dimension, i.e. Evil Lister’s. So I think maybe we’re supposed to infer that Michael really is “our” Rimmer’s son, and both ships originated in the same dimension. “a quite different dimension” at the beginning of Chapter 1, could refer to that one, as the previous part of the book was set in Evil Lister’s dimension. I don’t get why it isn’t made clear really. Either way I’m not digging the McGruder stuff.

  • Someone tweet Doug, ask him to read the book and tell us if it makes any sense.

  • Chapter 1
    ‘That is classified information, Karen! Who the hell told you that?’
    ‘The coffee machine on G-deck.’

    The dialogue between the president and his manicurist where it turns out even Ernie the doorman knows the big state secret feels very much like a precursor of that gag from BITR.

  • Chapter 2

    The stuff in Lister’s cyberhell is pretty good, especially his job getting fillings. I laughed at the idea that it’s worse because it’s in the evenings. Even in hell having to work unsocial hours would bother him. It’s also very Lister that he does actually try to make the most of a very crappy, humdrum existence. I guess none of this is moving the story forward but I’d have liked a bit more of it before/instead of being yanked out for more lengthy exposition, which is mostly what the last chapter was as well.

    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is interminable and I suppose it is a film you’d very quickly get sick of seeing over and over again, but I agree it’s an odd choice. Then again, if you use something like Plan 9 from Outer Space or Ishtar, it’s a bit of a lazy joke. Yes, I’m looking at you, Gary Larson.

  • Reading the first two books again has reaffirmed them as just about my favourite Red Dwarf things (benefiting from the established performances in the series) and made the loss of a third Grant Naylor novel (likely ‘reimagining’ my favourite years of the show) even more disappointing. Do we know anything about that non-existent book at all?

  • Do we know anything about that non-existent book at all?

    It was mentioned somewhere recently that they had started working on Last Human together, and then Rob split off to do his own thing and they negotiated Rob would use parts of the show Doug wasn’t using to finish Last Human … so, I imagine there is some semblance of Grant Naylor in Last Human, but heavily altered and re-worked by Doug as he went on to write and finish it on his own.

  • They’re first said to be working on it after series VI finished production in spring ’93, so I’d guess the fresh Psirens-Legion-Emohawk stuff would still have been there in some form, whether Kochanski or Nochanski would have won out.

  • It is interesting that both of them went different routes with it. Doug seemingly choosing to have Kochanski survive whilst Rob wrote it in a way that she could re-join the gang when they get picked up.

    But perhaps that was part of the agreement to keep the books different. Grant Naylor had decided to re-introduce Kochanski, so when Grant left, his book couldn’t include her.

  • In BTL, it says resurrecting the Toaster “was an idea that would cost Holly his electronic life.” I don’t know whether that was hyperbole or they were already finding Holly redundant even before series IV and planning to kill him off in book world, which would match a VI Starbug setting. Whether Red Dwarf was around or not, I’m confident that it towing the Earth would always have been forgotten as readily as the finite universes thing (none of which are ever seen with time going the ‘right’ way again).

  • Rob and Doug said in a Smegazine interview that the third book would pick up from BTL the day after the ending of that novel. I guess that means a bit of Lister and Kochanski’s life together on Backwards Earth before skipping forward to the rescue and possibly some of the Backwards section of Rob’s book?

    A version of Thanks for the Memory was going to be part of IWCD at one point. Interestingly, one thing that did make it into the book from that episode is the story of Rimmer’s fling with McGruder, so it’s possible Rimmer’s son was planned for a third Grant Naylor novel.

  • Holly isn’t really a character that works well in a book is he/she. She’s a head that makes jokes. In Infinity Holly doesn’t do much. Most of the action is, understandably, centred around Rimmer and Lister. So by BTL it’s no wonder they were got to just writing the character out with the White Hole stuff. It’s actually probably quite a clever move. Holly is alive enough to essentially be a Deus Ex Machina (they can turn him on for a short period for him to solve a super difficult problem and turn him back off again) but they don’t have to worry about finding ways of having him interact within the story. Especially when in book form (and especially BTL), most of the stories are happening in some fashion, off the ship.

  • I don’t know, in IWCD I think there’s lots of good Holly material, especially when you get inside his head for a bit. The dry delivery stuff works in the book very well I think (although always with Norman in mind).

    I think the White Hole stuff in BTL works too.

  • Chapter 3

    The Lister/”Kryten” conversation is the highlight but I really like this whole chapter actually. And Mr Rat wasn’t the first giant rat in Red Dwarf, it turns out.

  • Chapter 8

    I might be getting things completely wrong now, because there are so many concepts in this book that I get lost, but I’m not sure there was any need to retcon the McGruder story. It was established in chapter one of this section that Michael McGruder is from a quite different dimension, after all
    I’m not up to Chapter 8 yet but at the end of Time Fork we’re told the Mayflower got sucked into the Omni-zone and, same as Starbug, has wound up in a different dimension, i.e. Evil Lister’s. So I think maybe we’re supposed to infer that Michael really is “our” Rimmer’s son, and both ships originated in the same dimension. “a quite different dimension” at the beginning of Chapter 1, could refer to that one, as the previous part of the book was set in Evil Lister’s dimension. I don’t get why it isn’t made clear really. Either way I’m not digging the McGruder stuff.

    Yeah, I can see that now but that means that “a quite different dimension” was a terrible choice of words.

    And a huge problem is still that if Michael McGruder really is ‘our’ Rimmer’s son, then it doesn’t ring true at all.

  • Chapter 9

    Another chapter, another sci-fi concept is introduced to further confuse things. This time, the Rage. I find the whole idea pretty incomprehensible and even after reading about it a few times, it still doesn’t connect with me.

    It is a little unpleasant that the death of “the rest of the volunteers” is described so briefly. It’s kind of obvious that Doug realized they were going to get in the way of the plot, so got rid of them as soon as possible.

  • Chapter 10

    Another chapter, another sci-fi concept is introduced to further confuse things. This time, the luck virus…

    Kochanski’s line about playing poker are amusing, but it is blatantly obvious that they would be more fitting for Lister.

    Kryten becoming human is such a big idea that you would expect it to be a substantial part of the book (we could say the same thing about many other ideas). We will have to see over the next few chapters how worthwhile this inclusion is.

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