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Welcome to another episode of the Bulc Koob TsacFrawd! It feels like a very, very long time ago that we finished Better than Life but finally we’re getting to its sequel! Er, again. Because when it comes to Red Dwarf, sensible continuity is just something that happens to other franchises. So, join Ian Symes, Danny Stephenson and Jonathan Capps as they start their journey into the weird and wonderful world of Rob Grant’s Backwards, because All Good Boys Deserve Fatuous opinions of twats.

DwarfCast 136 – Book Club #12: Backwards (Part One) (104MB)

I’m afraid we’ve left you with less time than normal to catch up in time for the next instalment as we’ll be recording it a next weekend so be sure to read part 2, Smoke me a Kipper, Ace Rimmer Will Be In It, and share your thoughts below so we can read them out and publicly rank them in front of the whole school.

Show notes

142 comments on “DwarfCast 136 – Book Club #12: Backwards (Part One)

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  • Excellent Dwarfcast – maybe the best so far of the Book Club.

    I completely agree with the point that this version of Backwards actively rewards deeper analysis: I already liked the book, but the discussion here and and in the previous thread has made me enjoy it on a different level.

    Roll on part two!

  • “Poo poo, that’s the sound of the Ecilop”

    Bra-fucking-vo!

    Brilliant.

    Also fantastic work recording and reversing the phonetic reverse-speak. It’s impressive that it works.

  • I have to echo Dave’s comments. Really fantastic episode. Perhaps speaks to how rich this part of the book is compared to at last Last Human, that there is plenty to discuss, and is enjoyable to dive into too.

  • Oh, re: “the Berlin Wall was distributed everywhere”.

    I used to participate in our schools exchange trip with a school in Berlin, 4 years in a row we’d go and stay with a different family for a couple of weeks, then they’d come to us.

    Well one year, the father of the family was a cop (poo poo etc) [who incidentally was in the Berlin Polizi motorcycle display team] who was present when the wall fell. I think as a civilian rather than a cop. Anyway, he had a huge chunk of it he saved as it’s a huge piece of history.

    Anyway, they decided it would make a lovely present for me to take home with me. Which made for interesting discussion taking it as carry on onto a plane, in a box.

    I still have it more than 16 years later. Here it is

    https://imgur.com/WB4OrR5

  • Recapping the end of BTL like that – nice touch. Brian Cox – brilliant. That was a cracking listen at the end of a knackering, quite stressful couple of days. ????

  • Oh, re: “the Berlin Wall was distributed everywhere”.

    I used to participate in our schools exchange trip with a school in Berlin, 4 years in a row we’d go and stay with a different family for a couple of weeks, then they’d come to us.
    Well one year, the father of the family was a cop (poo poo etc) [who incidentally was in the Berlin Polizi motorcycle display team] who was present when the wall fell. I think as a civilian rather than a cop. Anyway, he had a huge chunk of it he saved as it’s a huge piece of history.
    Anyway, they decided it would make a lovely present for me to take home with me. Which made for interesting discussion taking it as carry on onto a plane, in a box.
    I still have it more than 16 years later. Here it is
    https://imgur.com/WB4OrR5

    That is quite a cool piece of history you have there!

  • Recapping the end of BTL like that – nice touch. Brian Cox – brilliant. That was a cracking listen at the end of a knackering, quite stressful couple of days.

    Nice to know we’re making people’s days a bit better. It’s always nice to know the work is appreciated, this was a bugger of an edit but we had a blast recording it.

  • Great DC. I normally spend the early hours making myself read less entertaining books, so might as well crack on.

    ONE

    The gradual reveal that this is Rimmer (spoiler!) is a bit like Rimmer’s introduction in the first novel, isn’t it?

    Ace’s elaborate ‘splendiferous’ and ‘fisteroonies’ turns of phrase are the most (or only) convincing connection with our Rimmer, even if it’s just how Rob Grant talks. Su-perlative.

    TWO

    The name of Ace’s ship is one of those extracurricular details that gets assumed for discussions of its TV appearances, at least among the novel reading real fans.

    FOUR

    We’re apparently not done with foreshadowing Lister’s Kochanski destiny even after he’s had a lifetime with the actual Kochanski. Well, his future echo children have to come from somewhere.

    It’s for the best that Rob doesn’t squeeze in Cat and Kryten cameos for the sake of it. Unless the admiral’s supposed to be played by Robert Llewellyn.

    FIVE

    31/03/81 – this is taking place around the time of the first novel. The later reveal that this is post-Red Dwarf for Lister should put this a few years later, but maybe that just happened earlier over here.

  • SIX

    This is a big one.

    Here’s my main petty peeve from this novel last time, which it turns out doesn’t really matter. The book universe’s limit of seven universes is now lifted in a big way (called “realities,” “dimensions” and “universes” interchangeably). But maybe their specific parallel nature means this is a different set of universes from those connected via Omnizone. All branching off the original RD universe, since time is still always the “wrong” way round.

    Lister’s rumination that infinite universes gives life meaning is another philosophy, like a backwards universe making more sense, that I’d probably argue the opposite for, but it’s just his opinion.

    With raped cattle, we complete our sheep-pig-cow farmyard bestiality trilogy.

    Was it wise for Rob to confirm so explicitly that the Wildfire did not, in fact, time jump, considering a massive time jump is necessary if Ace is going to meet our Rimmer?

    SEVEN

    The description of Jupiter and its moons gave this a sense of homecoming for where the first novel started in the vicinity of Saturn, even before…

    EIGHT

    Petersen! A very welcome resurrection that even gives the character a comparatively happily-not-dead-ever-after ending, albeit in another reality, and also brings us up to speed on Lister’s divergence very efficiently.

    It’s implied that having Rimmer as a bunkmate was partly responsible for screwing up our Lister’s life (a reverse of Rimmer’s claims in Me2 and the earlier novel), though it was more the positive impact of this Lewis Pemberton person (Chekhov’s Lewis Pemberton? Time will tell).

    But why didn’t the accident still happen if it wasn’t directly related to Z-shift duties in the books? Maybe Rob forgot, I only remember because the DwarfCasts keep bringing it up.

    TEN

    A bit of a weird one to end on. Is all this information about a character we’re probably not going to see again really necessary? I suppose that’s in the spirit of the first novel too.

    Overall, not as fun as Part One, but it came together by the end. Dimension Jump’s concept lends itself to novel expansion, but it was already explored well enough in the episode as it was. The novels are better when they’re taking a deeper dive into concepts that were a bit lacking on TV, namely Backwards and Better Than Life. Still, at least he’s not adapting, like, Gunmen or something, lol.

  • ONE

    Ah, the continuing tradition of opening chapter 1 of a “Part”, from the perspective of a lesser character who really doesn’t have much bearing on things going forward.

    Billy-Joe is clearly the Arnold/Ace thing in microcosm, but it’s so thin. The Mamie twist, which we learn later, is embarrassing.

    “And that simple act would save quite a few lives”

    By my reckoning, the final count is two.

  • TWO

    I love the idea of the Wildfire arriving, seemingly, before it leaves…and thus creating a dilemma for Tranter.

    THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX

    “Chum-burger”, “Old fruitcake”, “old sausage”…

    I confess, I don’t find Ace Rimmer a particularly good or interesting character. The main point of him is the juxtaposition with Arnold.

    The stuff with him at the beginning of Dimension Jump is funny because it’s a ridiculous and exaggerated pastiche of Top Gun/James Bond with everyone he meets basking in his brilliance. Chris Barrie nails the performance. But at less than 5 minutes, that’s pretty much The Joke. The rest of the laughs in that episode are really along the theme of “Arnold sneers at Ace’s brilliance”.

    (This is part of the reason why Emohawk is ropey for me, because it doesn’t really understand why Ace worked in the first place)

    These chapters though, just fall flat for me. We’re half-way through the part and all I know is that Ace is fucking marvellous, calls people stupid names and has lots and lots of girlfriends. Chris Barrie’s performance in the show is doing all the heavy-lifting for me here in finding this character funny or giving a shit about him.

    Fortunately, I think we actually get inside Ace’s head in the next chapter, but everything so far has been him “as seen by others”…and it’s kind of tiring when he’s so bloody fantastic.

  • Just had a click of your second Mountains Research link up there. If only they could have made their way over to the La Cloche Mountains, you’d have been in your element.

  • Listening to the battery charge discussion, I’ve realised what must happen in the backwards universe by its own logic – once the battery was full, Rimmer would have to be turned off until he was un-charged again. So that’s basically the worst that could happen.

    On the subject of Brian Cox, I did read one of his books which seemed to suggest that The Big Crunch is definitely not going to happen.

    Quinn, I think they’ve fobbed you off with a chunk of rye bread there.

    Right, S.M.A.K.I.B.B.F.B.
    ONE – Oh yes, an entire part of a book that doesn’t feature any of the main characters. Quite a brave move, especially from the perspective of the seven people who’ve read this book without having watched the TV series.

    I’ve never heard the phrase “love spuds” outside of Red Dwarf.

    Rob chooses a very long-winded way of describing auburn hair here.

    Clearhead alcohol-free vodka feels like it’s meant to be a joke, but as alcohol-free gin is commonplace these days, it feels very quaint.

    I honestly can’t remember why Ace is being such a dick here (I recall his dialogue style, so that’s how I know who it is), but I’m sure it’ll be important.

    TWO – Pete Tranter is Bungo. Which obviously has weird repercussions for the reveal that he looks like Kryten’s DNA-altered version and Lister not recognising him. Maybe he only actually knew his sister, just being aware of Pete by reputation. I’m definitely not overthinking here.

    Ends on some very fitting questions about causality. Bungo’s thoughts here, as well as the different universe reveal, both tie in with the whole backwards universe really nicely. It’s almost as if there’s some kind of theme going on here.

    THREE – I always loved Ace’s “old love,” “old sausage,” type stuff in the book. And especially Rimmer’s parody, although that’s a long way off yet.

    It’s really hard to know what to make of this chapter, because anyone who’s seen the TV show knows that this Rimmer will have come from another dimension, and the St Christopher is pretty blatant, so although the other two things teased in the cliffhanger are still to be revealed, most of the tension is missing because just about everyone reading is already way ahead of the characters.

    FOUR – Pot Noodle gags in Red Dwarf. Just can’t escape them, can you?

    The stuff about Lister’s body’s response to pulling an all-nighter is lovely Grant Naylor style prose. Time flying being described as minutes flitting by in “unseen flocks” is a really wonderful phrase.

    Foul coffee is a trope I see used in TV and books all the time, and it never rings true. You get people who hate instant coffee, thinking it’s horrible, but ultimately most people will happily drink it and be fine with it. Why do fictional characters seem to have far more refined palates when it comes to coffee? I’m really into my beer, but it I was a writer, I wouldn’t have all of my normal characters the same: they’d probably be happy to drink a pint of Carling or a badly kept Marston’s Bitter, because millions of people do that every day. Especially as the bit about Spanners fighting his natural slobbiness hammers home that, deep down, this IS our Lister, and he really hasn’t got very refined taste. I think you’ll all agree this point gets to the crux of the main story here, and I hope it is discussed in length on the DwarfCast.

    “Chum-burger”. Ace is really quite camp in this, isn’t he?

    Some nice writing in there, but the cliffhanger is basically the same as the previous one, isn’t it? It IS turning into Trial of a Time Lord.

    FIVE – Initialism watch: MC. Although it’s explained in the next sentence, and makes sense coming from Ace.

    You know, I always used to think the whole smoke me a kipper thing was just a bit of nonsense, it took about 20 years for me to realise that it actually makes sense.

    SIX – Ah yes, Magic Eye pictures. Good to see the future still exists in the 1990s.

    A technician called Rodenbury. Yes, very good, Rob.

    The fact that the dimension-hopping abilities of Wildfire are an accident is a really nice spin on the TV version. It makes it all feel more realistic, for some reason. The fact that this concept is being explained as some bold new idea to scientists in the future, whereas it’s something that has, to some extent, entered general public consciousness by the early part of the 21st century, makes it feel slightly less realistic, however. Ace not understanding the science being a massive downplaying is a nice bit, though. He’s even more humble here than in the TV version. Similarly, Bungo pointing out the futility of sending Ace and Wildfire on a one-way trip is a bit of a lampshade, but it does at least acknowledge how nonsensical the idea seems.

    Is that the first smeg of the book?

    Ah good, a child-molester gag.

    And a bestiality one.

    “No magnificence in your soul” flying in from White Hole. Nice use of the phrase.

    SEVEN – Ace knowing he’ll arrive “somewhere along his own destiny line” is a fancy way of doing a somehow, really, isn’t it? It’s easy to over-romanticise the ‘decisions’ idea of the multi-verse – isn’t the actual hypothesis related to quantum stuff like by observing electrons you change them? – but ideas like being drawn to your destiny line fall very much into fantasy territory for me.

    Ace being scared that he’d meet a better Rimmer is brilliant, as not only does it show his humility well, but it also ties it in with that ultimate Rimmer characteristic: low self-esteem.

    Ah, yes. I’d actually assumed, or remembered, how the Mamie and Billy-Joe plot came together. It’s kind of sweet, I suppose.

    Seven chapters and the first ‘what a guy’!

    EIGHT – Ah, Lister’s in prison again.

    Bloody hell, I’d forgotten Petersen turned up. And his house. And Red Dwarf! Crikey, it’s like the last few minutes of Skipper in here. Pemberton is a lovely spin on Rimmer’s complaint that his failures were because he shared a bunk with Lister, when it now turns out that the exact opposite was true. This is actually the kind of thing I was expecting from Skipper based on the set reports. It’s a really good way of referencing the show’s past as a way to really explore the characters, rather than simply be fan service.

    Initialism watch – SP.

    “Stapling my colleague’s penis to his groin.” Hello, Rob.

    NINE – Well, that was… a chapter.

    TEN – Mellie! That’s Hattie’s only appearance in the books, then.

    I like the fact that Bungo resigning sorted his life out. Everybody seems to do well out of simply interacting with Ace.

    Class M planets. I love how that bit of Star Trek terminology has filtered through to tons of other sci-fi.

    Ah, now there’s a good cliffhanger. One we won’t get round to picking up for another six weeks now!

  • This “Fuh… Fuh… Ten years” of which you speak – is it not Twelve years? Because it is in the copy I’m reading (BCA hardback, 1997 second reprint).

  • Oh yes, an entire part of a book that doesn’t feature any of the main characters. Quite a brave move, especially from the perspective of the seven people who’ve read this book without having watched the TV series.

    It ended up feeling more like a Better Than Life detour to me than a complete detachment. Not our guys, and not entirely convincing as likely alternatives, but enough to get away with it.

    Ace is basically Arnold if he’d turned out like his brothers, but more so. If only Chris Barrie had read this audiobook, the similarity to Frank Rimmer in BTL would be clearer to TV virgins who were paying attention.

  • One

    If memory serves this is Ace pulling a BttF2 on Billy-Joe* to give him the confidence he needs in life

    What I really like is that whilst Ace isn’t named, his use of language tells the reader this is a version of Rimmer. Fisteroonies etc

    * Billy-Joe … I was going to make a quip about Billy-Joe Armstrong off of Greenday fame, but Epstein eeek!

    Two

    I really appreciate the time dedicated to Tranter, exploring and expanding his character. He could have just been an Admiral with little to no back story that is a piece used to move the story along. But time is spent giving us an insight into who he is.

    It reminds me of McIntyre in Infintiy to that effect. We get a good introduction to that character for no real reason other than to build something of a rich universe.

    Last Human didn’t really achieve that with anyone (even McGruder) and I’m not sure Better Than Life did either, other than there were few outside characters in that book.

    Three

    Court-spatial seems an entirely unnecessary “we’re in space in the future” adjustment to language.

    Ace, and actually Rimmer too, in general, strikes me as the sort of person where not a thing can be out of place.

    Whilst we’ve all kind of glossed over obvious things because we see what we expect to see etc, I struggle a little accepting Ace doesn’t immediately notice the St Christopher medal. He would know he lost it. It would be bugging him as his uniform isn’t correct. So seeing it on himself, unless he assumes he finds it before the flight, ought to jump out at him.

    Four

    Whilst Doug was learning Ju Juit Su, Rob was pulling all nighters with MTV in the background

    Five

    Again, a lot of time spent on describing an event that previously wouldn’t have been given the word count.

    I love lengthy space operas and this really reminds me of that, despite this booking being not much longer than others I believe someone worked out recently?

    Six

    Rodenbury … lazy or cheeky little meta input for the audience there, along side Captain Kirk in Infinity?

    I am beginning to love how this book makes no assumptions that the reader has seen the show before. I think all previous books are guilty of that in one way or another.

    Also like the flip of the dimension jumping bring a mistake rather than intentional

    Really appreciate the explanation of why it is a one way trip*, though still don’t quite understand why you would test it when you can’t map and or use it other than “the potential”

    *that with so many billions of decisions being made ever second, you’re reality is basically just lost.

    It’s a a bit of a struggle to understand at this stage why Lister is happy to lose his friend, even if it means he’ll survive. He sees a bigger picture. But why not spend some time automating it? Test with with a human onboard first, then start to see where tech will lead.

  • You know, I always used to think the whole smoke me a kipper thing was just a bit of nonsense, it took about 20 years for me to realise that it actually makes sense.

    nothing wrong with kipper for supper

    but really though, I’m with you. I thought it was a nonsense phrase until I realise “smoke me a kipper”, meant “to smoke” like you do with meat … “I’ll be back for breakfast” … because he wants smoke kippers for breakfast.

    now I put both those things side by side, do you thin Doug or Rob regularly have kippers for meals?

  • ONE

    I like how, apart from the St Christopher medal right at the end, this works pretty well as a corny standalone short story, as well as being a bit of set up for Ace’s character in retrospect.

    TWO

    The exposition here is helped along by funny material like Tranter’s nicknames and the stuff about his massive desk. Good.
    These first couple of chapters are a nice change of pace and tone after the pretty relentless Part 1, with its brain-frying backwards stuff and no relatable extra characters to speak of. Unless you sleep with a pig.

  • SEVEN

    So I was expecting an interesting delve into Ace’s psyche, but that lasted all of two or three paragraphs. It verges on Michael McGruder levels of ‘meh’ when we get to Ace feeling inadequate when comparing himself to potential other Rimmers.

    And then we’re straight into this Mamie stuff, which is just…uh, crap.

    Couldn’t Mamie just ask out Billy Joe if she a) is so infatuated with him that she’s planned all this – and b) is so sure that he just needs a confidence boost? Rather than contriving fights in bars, couldn’t Ace just give her 2 minutes of advice amounting to “ask him out, lovesausage”

    Oh, and why is Mamie swooning over Ace (“What a guy”). That seems like a bit of confusing note to leave this whole plot line on, when she’s supposed to pining for Billy-Joe.

    Interesting too, how Ace specifically says it’s the black-eye which saved his bacon…when the earlier chapter states it’s specifically Billy Joe taking his medal.

  • EIGHT

    This is definitely my favourite Chapter in this part, and I love the stuff with Petersen and Triton, which is so specifically an Infinity call back, that it hammers home how this is Part 3 of a trilogy.

    The Pemberton stuff is kind of interesting (and is reminiscent of Rimmer’s lines about Napoleon peeling spuds in Me2) but I’m not sure I need the thought of a one-chapter character giving speeches about “passion” to recently split couples. In a part that has been hammering home how fantastic Ace is, do we really need another character dedicating himself to steering Cupid’s arrows?

    I guess twins run in Kochanski’s family, since she always seems to produce them whatever plane of reality she’s in.

  • ONE

    I like that this chapter immediately wrongfoots us. After reading Ace Rimmer’s catchphrase as the title of this second section, we expect to meet the character as we know him – so gradually realising that the officer in the bar is him and he’s behaving like an arsehole is an interesting way to challenge our expectations and make us wonder whether we’re seeing yet another alternate Rimmer, a dimension where there was a nastier Ace.

    Of course, it doesn’t work out like that, but it’s an interesting way to (re)introduce Ace here. Even if the circumstances do stretch plausibility slightly: surely Ace is well-known enough that people in the bar would recognise him and realise he was acting out of character?

    TWO

    Using Pete Tranter as the admiral’s name is a weird choice as it immediately makes us think of Lister sucking on the snout of a Psiren. Presumably this is a different Pete Tranter though, unless he has a famously attractive sister.

    I wonder why they changed Bongo from the TV version to Bungo here? They both sound sort of silly, but Bungo has more of a connotation of bungling which I suppose fits with the slightly more pathetic version of the character we see here, compared to the TV version.

    All the background on Project Wildfire is interesting though, and the time-travel goal makes for a slightly more plausible explanation than the rushed setup we get in Dimension Jump. And the stuff about Bungo’s desperate career aspirations is both tragically funny and also necessary to set up the positive change in his character later.

    THREE

    I really like the extended conversation we get to see between Ace and Spanners from this chapter onwards. It’s a relationship that was barely sketched in Dimension Jump but it’s lovely to see a world where Lister and Rimmer could have been on such close, friendly terms.

    This entire section of the book makes pretty clear that Ace’s reality is one where the divergence from ‘our’ reality caused ripples that spread out and positively affected countless other lives, pretty much everyone Ace comes into contact with (which is a nice expansion of the TV concept), and the Lister relationship is a big part of that.

    I like the time-travel mystery that’s further set up here too. (Of course, it’s less of a mystery to the reader than to the characters, but still.)

    FOUR

    This description of the effects of an all-nighter feels like it comes from quite a personal place for Rob. I wonder how many Red Dwarf scripts were written in these circumstances. 

    I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but does Ace’s dialogue about Spanners needing “shut eye” and “ninety winks” subliminally influence Lister to notice that the Ace in the video has no black eye? Like that moment in a House episode where an unrelated comment makes the penny drop for him and he solves the mystery? The connection jumped out at me here but it’s never explicitly linked in the text either.

    FIVE 

    This is an interesting little glimpse of an alternate-alternate Rimmer, but ultimately the takeoff is not that different from what we see in Dimension Jump, just in more detail. Apart from the ending, obviously. 

    SIX

    This chapter is a nice way to make a point about nature versus nurture which is somewhat missing from Dimension Jump. Lister’s anti-authority streak is a nice way of connecting him to ‘our’ Lister and makes it seem more plausible that they’re alternate versions of the same character. 

    Also, a lot of heavy-lifting done on the mechanics of dimension jumping here. I like that Ace effectively came up with the theory himself here – it adds an extra dimension (arf) compared to the TV version where Ace seems pretty oblivious to the whole thing but jumps at the mission as soon as Bongo tells him about it.

    SEVEN

    Getting inside Ace’s head (and realising that he’s a little worried about meeting a “better” Rimmer) is a nice little interlude, and makes it clear that his constant modesty is at least somewhat linked to insecurities that persist for him despite his success.

    Again, it’s a way of connecting his personality traits to ‘our’ Rimmer and making the two characters feel more closely connected than just being the same actor in different costumes.

    The stuff about Ace being destined to arrive somewhere along his counterpart’s parallel timeline is also a nice way of addressing the “ah but why does he also jump three million years into the future?” nitpick from Dimension Jump. Even if it’s not much more than a “somehow” explanation. 

    EIGHT

    Meeting Petersen again is a lovely surprise, and makes me realise how much of an impression Mark Williams made in his short time on the show, as I read everything in this chapter with his performance very much in mind.

    It also finally solves the mystery from IWCD of whether his cheap house on Triton was a scam or not. Turns out it wasn’t. 

    His pretend dialogue at seeing Lister’s photo of Jim and Bexley is very funny to me, having gone through a thousand similar conversations. I also love his overly ornate contrition later when presented with an escalating list of his misdeeds. It’s a great comedy bit that feels like it would have worked on TV.

    Also, I guess it was about time that Red Dwarf itself appeared in a book with a giant Red Dwarf logo on the cover.

    The section about Lewis Pemberton is again a nice reflection of how Rimmer’s different path through life has had all of these (often unintentional) positive effects on other people, here allowing Lister to have a role model he didn’t have in Rimmer.

    This status of Ace’s dimension as the ultra-positive-i-verse™ also seems to extend further to the whole Red Dwarf crew, as this reality seems to be one in which they never got wiped out, as presumably the accident never happened. “Somehow,” you might say.

    NINE

    Not much here, other than to give Spanners a lovely happy ending in this reality.

    TEN

    This whole bit with Tranter is obviously written in a way that leads you to think he’s committing suicide but then reveals that he’s quitting the booze and leaving his career hangups behind.

    I’m not really sure it’s necessary to introduce such a bait-and-switch for its own sake though, and neither is it really necessary to spend time explaining away his stymied career due to the double-Tranter confusion. 

    It all feels like unnecessary comedy noodling that would perhaps be more forgivable if it wasn’t the final, climactic chapter of this section.

    Although I get the desire to show Ace continuing to leave a trail of positively transformed lives in his wake. Another victory for the ultra-positive-i-verse™!

  • Interesting too, how Ace specifically says it’s the black-eye which saved his bacon…when the earlier chapter states it’s specifically Billy Joe taking his medal.

    This whole thing with the clues is a little bit wonky.

    The very end of Chapter Three tells us that there were two clues in every frame of the video.

    Which (because readers are already a bit ahead of the mystery on this one) feels like it refers to the black eye and the Saint Christopher.

    But then Chapter Six tells us that the timestamp date is the major giveaway.

    So are there three clues? Or are the black eye and Saint Christopher together counted as one clue? It’s all a little bit unclear.

  • Recapping some of the previous comments now that I’ve written my own.

    Here’s my main petty peeve from this novel last time, which it turns out doesn’t really matter. The book universe’s limit of seven universes is now lifted in a big way (called “realities,” “dimensions” and “universes” interchangeably). But maybe their specific parallel nature means this is a different set of universes from those connected via Omnizone.

    Yes, I always read the alternate dimensions as being a completely separate idea. That there are infinite parallel dimensions, and each one has its set of seven universes.

  • “And that simple act would save quite a few lives”

    By my reckoning, the final count is two.

    Presumably, if this is what makes Dimension Jumping safe for this universe’s Ace Rimmer, then the same scenario plays out in countless alternate dimensions. So all (or at least, many) of the infinite Ace Rimmers that successfully Dimension Jump owe their lives to this one act.

  • NINE

    More Ace being marvellous. It’s just..odd. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to think about this character.

    The final line of this chapter should be accompanied by every other character in the vicinity saying “Ohh, Petersen!” and standing around laughing, awkwardly.

    TEN

    I’ve never really understood what Tranter is actually doing in this chapter. He clearly ruptures his ear drum, but what was he aiming at with the first shot?

    The non-explanation of “Bungo” in Chapter 1 (when compared to Tranter’s other nicknames) and the very brief appearance of “Mellie” here, seem to be explicitly *references* to the television episode “Dimension Jump* as opposed to everything else in the novels that’s borrowed ideas and dialogue from the TV show.

    This stuff about Dieter Tranter just seems…unnecessary.

    “The worse Dieter performed, the more he got promoted”

    The “he” here is presumably Dieter (but tbh, it’s not that clear and is counter to the point it’s making about one influencing the other), but it doesn’t make sense. Why would the “worse Dieter performed” cause anyone to get promoted?

    Surely, in this rather questionable situation, Peter’s good performance affects Dieter’s promotions? And Dieter’s poor performance causes Peter’s career to stall.

    (In my head, I’m pronouncing Dieter as if he’s constantly on a diet).

    Anyway, that’s the end of Part 2. My problems with this novel are starting to ferment. I love how it’s written, I’m fond of the backwards stuff in Part 1, I adore the Prologue, Muskogee and Endlogue…and I love the character-stuff with the crew…but I have a big problem with what happens, and at least some of that is because of this part of the book.

    Without Ace that Prologue wouldn’t make much sense…but that’s the only negative I can think with removing him completely from this book.

  • Is that the first smeg of the book?

    Isn’t there a reverse-smeg in the first section (and in this Dwarfcast?).

  • Presumably, if this is what makes Dimension Jumping safe for this universe’s Ace Rimmer, then the same scenario plays out in countless alternate dimensions. So all (or at least, many) of the infinite Ace Rimmers that successfully Dimension Jump owe their lives to this one act.

    But surely, in countless other universes, Billy Joe wouldn’t have chosen to pick up the medal and…oh, I’ve gone cross-eyed.

  • Whilst we’ve all kind of glossed over obvious things because we see what we expect to see etc, I struggle a little accepting Ace doesn’t immediately notice the St Christopher medal. He would know he lost it. It would be bugging him as his uniform isn’t correct.

    It’s not that kind of medal though, is it? It’s the kind you wear on a necklace. Patron saint of travellers, and all that. Which is apt for Ace.
    Chrissie

  • I’ve never really understood what Tranter is actually doing in this chapter. He clearly ruptures his ear drum, but what was he aiming at with the first shot?

    He’s shooting his bottles of booze. It’s just the loud sound of the gun that makes his ear bleed. Although it’s deliberately written to make us think it’s leading up to his suicide. So yeah, it’s a bit confusing, and never really explains itself fully after the bait-and-switch.

  • But surely, in countless other universes, Billy Joe wouldn’t have chosen to pick up the medal and…oh, I’ve gone cross-eyed.

    Yes, hence “or at least, many”. Presumably there could be other scenarios in which Ace and Spanners (sounds like a TV series about a boy and his pet robot) realise that they need to change the settings and aim for a more far-removed parallel universe to avoid burning up from the dimensional friction, but presumably for lots of the other closer Aces it all plays out much the same as it does here.

  • Surely, in this rather questionable situation, Peter’s good performance affects Dieter’s promotions? And Dieter’s poor performance causes Peter’s career to stall.

    (In my head, I’m pronouncing Dieter as if he’s constantly on a diet).

    This whole joke doesn’t really work for me, because while Dieter and Peter might sound like similar names when you speak them, written down they look quite different and it’s unlikely that they would be confused for one another due to a clerical error, and certainly not for the entire length of his career.

    It reminds me of that old Smithers bit:
    Pete Nixon's Sister

    I get that it’s just a silly joke but at this stage in this section of this book it feels like an odd aside to just throw in, as it’s not really that funny and takes a lot of fussy explanation.

  • The very end of Chapter Three tells us that there were two clues in every frame of the video.

    Ah, what version are you reading, Dave? I’m reading an ebook and it’s “three”. I do have a first edition somewhere so can check.

  • The very end of Chapter Three tells us that there were two clues in every frame of the video.

    Ah, what version are you reading, Dave? I’m reading an ebook and it’s “three”. I do have a first edition somewhere so can check.

    Ah, that’s interesting. Yeah mine is the first edition hardback (the same copy that I bought way back on release day!)

    Obviously the ebook is from a dimension where the editor did their job properly after an uplifting pep-talk from Ace Rimmer.

  • I’ve got the first edition hardback with “two clues” too (£3.05 off eBay). I think I treated the details of Ace’s appearance as one clue, since it didn’t stand out, but obviously an error that was fixed.

    I appreciated Rob making the point about adjusting the reality settings to be more divergent, it nips some tedious nitpicking at the bud and keeps things vague.

    So the Wildfire does work as a time machine too if you calibrate it far enough out to ride your destiny line into another universe’s future or past. Like when the teleporter in the series turned out to be an accidental time machine, you can’t invent anything without stumbling upon the secret of time travel.

    I’m assuming none of the random side characters whose full names and life stories are detailed here will be relevant again in the book, but it’s like it’s setting them up to have been assimilated into Agonoids or something. (“Aren’t we lucky we were there to get all that information? It seemed extraneous at the time.”)

  • All the Tranter, Mellie, Billy-Joe stuff seems fine to me, it’s just fleshing out the universe with characters doing things in their lives and being affected by Ace.

    In terms of Red Dwarf not having the radiation leak, that’s just butterfly effect stuff, isn’t it? Rimmer not being on board, Lister having a more positive life, getting back together with Kochanski, Pemberton, all the tiny day-to-day changes that could branch off into other things. Even in a very straight-forward way: Rimmer and Lister were responsible for vending machine repair, and it was a spilled cup of coffee that inadvertently led to the leak, so changes in the running of Z-shift could easily have changed the scenario enough to stop it happening.

  • Actually, for all the heavy-handed stuff with Pemberton (I don’t think we needed an explicit reason for why Spanners and Kochanski reconcile), it’s a much clearer example of the nature/nature thing than Lister choosing his family in Last Human, so I’ll give it that.

  • I suppose there’s an argument that Lewis Pemberton is the real hero of all of these dimensions.

    Without him, Lister never becomes Spanners, the clues in alt-Ace’s snuff movie never get spotted, and the Dimension Jump either goes ahead and kills Ace, or gets cancelled altogether and stops Ace Rimmer from becoming the space hero of all realities.

    So maybe the key point to Rimmer being kept down a year isn’t particularly that it shapes his personality differently and turns him into Ace, but that it lets Lewis Pemberton step into a mentor role to Lister and thus fulfil his destiny.

  • I read the last few chapters earlier and didn’t make any notes but I really liked bring Petersen back and making reference to the mansion he bought etc. Really helps tie the novels together and another tick in the “Backwards is the true 3rd novel” column.

    In generally I just really enjoy this little side step. In a few short chapters Rob has built a really nice world with character that have had a bit of space to be explored. You’re sort of routing for everyone by the end of it. Even Pete Tranter?

    Also, am I correct in thinking Bongo was meant to be called Pete Tranter in DJ, and that’s where they got the name from for Psiren’s?

  • So maybe the key point to Rimmer being kept down a year isn’t particularly that it shapes his personality differently and turns him into Ace, but that it lets Lewis Pemberton step into a mentor role to Lister and thus fulfil his destiny.

    Further Plot twist: Lewis Pemberton is a classmate in the lower year, and shows Arnold how to be cool.

  • Lewis Pemberton is the real Ace. Travelling through time nudging people in the correct life direction

  • Did anyone find it weird Rob insisted on referring to alt-Lister as Lister rather than Spanners, if not for the sake of distinguishing between the two.

    I know it’s not strictly necessary as we know it’s a different reality, but it is a little jarring that he constantly refers to him as Lister, and even in our first introduction to him is says something like “Lister popped up from under the ship”, there’s no attempt to be hint that this is a different person at all. Not description of him looking at all different or anything.

  • Lewis Pemberton is the real Ace. Travelling through time nudging people in the correct life direction

    That planet that all the Ace caskets orbit around is actually made of Lew caskets.

  • Alternate Lister’s workplace is twice erroneously called “hanger 101”, although p94 correctly says “hangar door”. There’s my nitpick for this instalment.

  • Hopefully there’s an alternative Hangar 17 with another Mickey Hutton. Another Mickey Hutton who’s doing really well for himself.

  • CHAPTER TEN:
    “His resignation had already been E-mailed to Central Command.”

    E-mail! Yep, Rob’s working that computer, alright.

  • I’d like to petition the G&T team to record and release your episode on the Smoke Me a Kipper part of this book as normal, but then release an extra 2hour long podcast dedicated entirely to Lewis Pemberton just to ensure he gets the full recognition he deserves.

  • Oh very good, I think we should all e-mail in our own little eulogies. Audio recorded, not shorter than 15mins say?

  • THREE and FOUR

    I’m afraid I agree with Pete about Ace. Without Chris’s performance and Rimmer being there to react to him he’s quite grating really, with his stupid way of talking and that trite speech about hope. Insufferable and not funny. The other characters in this part have been more appealing so far.

    FIVE

    So this is all happening on Europa, not Mimas like in Dimension Jump. I suppose it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for this to be set on the Mimas of IWCD.

    “Don’t be a ponce. Just get the smegging thing back in one piece.” This Spanners is Q.

  • Without Chris’s performance and Rimmer being there to react to him he’s quite grating really, with his stupid way of talking and that trite speech about hope. Insufferable and not funny.

    Now you know how Rimmer feels meeting him. And lets be honest, other than saving the day, the dude would be quite insufferable if you met him in the pub.

    But I think that’s part of the joke is it not?

  • Without taking the character overly seriously, I’ve always felt that all that jolly chumminess is an act for Ace – something he does to try and put other people at ease. And it usually works (like it does with our Lister when they first meet in Dimension Jump.)

    I think we do see the “real” Ace at times – the conversation with Lister in Dimension Jump just before he leaves at the end feels quite sincere and unaffected – and I guess we see him being himself with our Rimmer in Stoke too, although arguably he’s a bit of a different character by then (and obviously doesn’t have any bearing on Rob’s conception of the character).

    But mostly I think Ace is putting on an act and playing a character to some extent. Maybe to offset his own insecurities, which are going to be shared with our Rimmer to some degree even though they developed very differently.

  • That’s probably true to an extent, part of the whole “fighting back ever since” attitude. Never let them see you bleed, and all that. I just find his crap macho persona tiresome. As you say, he does seem to ingratiate himself with people easily but in his interactions with Spanners he comes across as patronising and shallow. I think maybe the idea is that Ace can’t simply switch it off and be himself quite, and Spanners just goes along with it for the most part and occasionally teases him a bit, like calling him a ponce for example. Obviously Ace is a good guy and that’s the main thing in Lister’s book. Anyway maybe we’ll see more of the “real” Ace in this novel? I can’t remember much of what happens from this point on. A few moments from each of the three remaining parts, but nothing to do with grown-up Ace.

  • I don’t really take Ace Rimmer more seriously in the episode than something like Confidence and Paranoia, the Self-Loathing Beast or Cat-Camille, just enjoy the joke of him personifying Rimmer’s failure to live up to his potential in an excruciating, exaggerated way and bringing out the worst in him (i.e. the best, we’re on Rimmer’s side. I’ve only known one person who really liked Red Dwarf but couldn’t stand Rimmer, so I can see him considering Ace an improvement at face value).

    Obviously the performance was so memorable that the character took on a life of his own and they enjoyed writing him, but he wasn’t really funny here at all. Petersen stole the section, what a guy.

  • One of the interesting things about Ace is that he is kind of too perfect – he manages to be humble and selfless at every single turn, and that’s something it’s very hard for most people to trust, because we’re used to seeing people’s flaws. What it’d be like knowing him in real life is harder to say, but as a character we ultimately find him a bit phoney because it’s hard to comprehend somebody who shows no genuinely unpleasant sides. Ace covers his actual weakness, anger and, shall we say, Inner Rimmer, with friendliness and understated bravado because he knows that it’s generally unhelpful, and again we’re not used to that and find it uncomfortable. He’s not even smug about sex in this version, his “old sausage” stuff making him comes across almost old fashioned and stuffy.

    I find this makes him a genuinely interesting character, because of how much he’s intended to make the audience squirm by continually doing the ‘right’ thing, just as our Rimmer makes us squirm by doing the wrong thing at every turn.

    This doesn’t apply to the James Bond version from Tikka, by the way, who absolutely is a smug bastard.

  • Obviously the performance was so memorable that the character took on a life of his own and they enjoyed writing him, but he wasn’t really funny here at all.

    I suppose Ace only really becomes funny once you put him with our Rimmer. In a world where he’s successful and heroic and everyone thinks he’s great, he’s not going to generate many good gags.

    Maybe that’s why the chummy Ace-speak is pushed a bit further here, for laughs – but I agree it isn’t particularly funny.

    Same with all the extraneous Bungo stuff – it’s trying to mine laughs out of a section of the book that isn’t inherently very funny and is mostly just a very stretched-out version of the first few minutes of Dimension Jump, where most of the humour came from seeing the familiar actors in new roles (which obviously doesn’t work quite the same way in a book).

  • I think we do see the “real” Ace at times – the conversation with Lister in Dimension Jump just before he leaves at the end feels quite sincere and unaffected

    he manages to be humble and selfless at every single turn, and that’s something it’s very hard for most people to trust, because we’re used to seeing people’s flaws

    It should be noted that his mask does slip in DJ at one point and his gay panic shows when Rimmer pushes too far suggesting he is homosexual and Lister has to block him from knocking him out.

    Now, that could be just the final straw and it’s the bullying he has an issue with more than the suggestion of being gay.

    But either way he can be pushed so far as to want a rumble and I wonder if that comes from being relentlessly bullied at school. First for being Rimmer, and then for being held back etc

    He taught him to toughen up but also all he really wants to do (and perhaps often did) was fight back.

  • I never read that as “gay panic” – after all, he doesn’t really react to the Big Boys In Boots joke earlier – and more a reaction to Rimmer continuing to insult both him and Lister after Ace’s “say what you like about me” warning earlier.

    Part of Ace’s personality is about standing up for people when someone else “punches down”, and I think that’s why he gets irritated on Lister’s behalf.

  • I’ve just watched it again and I dunno, it could definitely be read as “one too many jibes has pushed him over the edge” but given it directly follows ‘you could get in the bath together and play spot the submarine, which itself has followed on from a number of homophobic remarks, it could just as easily be read that Ace has finally snapped at all the comments and questioning of his sexuality.

    Whatever the reason, he looks really angry and the main point is that his mask slips and his real (or at least another hidden/suppressed) personality comes out in those split seconds show he isn’t always the cheery nice guy. Not like Lewis Pemberton.

    Side note: Ace says “lets get back to the small rouge one” – bit odd for him to immediately start giving nicknames to Red Dwarf considering the name of the ship has probably only been mentioned to him once or twice, and off screen at that.

  • Side note: Ace says “lets get back to the small rouge one” – bit odd for him to immediately start giving nicknames to Red Dwarf considering the name of the ship has probably only been mentioned to him once or twice, and off screen at that.

    I guess Spanners has already told him about his time on Red Dwarf in Ace’s reality. After all, I’m sure he has lots of stories to share about a certain special someone.

  • it could just as easily be read that Ace has finally snapped at all the comments and questioning of his sexuality.

    I’ve always found Kryten’s cut-off remark “if I may just point out…” quite interesting in this regard. Presumably he was going to say that Ace’s sexuality is going to be the same as our Rimmer’s, coming down firmly on the Nature side of the argument there.

    Or maybe he was just going to tell Rimmer off for being a homophobic twat.

  • Well, if they are both relatively similar people, our homophobic Rimmer could quite well be a trait Ace carries thus objects heavily to having his sexuality challenged in that way.

    Rather than Kryten pointing out Ace’s sexuality is the same as Rimmer’s (i.e. Rimmer is straight then so is Ace), maybe he was about to imply if Ace is gay then so is Rimmer. Pulling a reverse uno card.

  • Side note: Ace says “lets get back to the small rouge one” – bit odd for him to immediately start giving nicknames to Red Dwarf considering the name of the ship has probably only been mentioned to him once or twice, and off screen at that.

    This kind of stuff normally sticks out to me, but I think it’s fine bearing in mind Ace is the sort of person who immediately gives everyone a nickname and then starts incessantly using it to suggest a level of familiarity that really isn’t there.

  • Well, if they are both relatively similar people, our homophobic Rimmer could quite well be a trait Ace carries thus objects heavily to having his sexuality challenged in that way.

    I think this kind of prejudice would definitely fall into the Nurture camp though. I don’t see Ace as being bigoted in this way.

    Although I guess we have to see this all through the lens of early-90s conceptions of what a masculine action-hero type should be, so who knows. Homophobic remarks and jokes were a lot more commonplace then, and maybe Ace would be offended by the perceived challenge to his masculinity, even if it’s not the kind of joke he’d make himself.

  • If he doesn’t want people to think he’s gay, he shouldn’t have called himself Ace Rimmer.

  • If he doesn’t want people to think he’s gay, he shouldn’t have called himself Ace Rimmer.

    /end

  • Maybe that’s why they all offer to flavour themselves to seem more appetising, but Ace has simple tastes and prefers them buttered.

  • Tell me about it

    If he doesn’t want people to think he’s gay, he shouldn’t have called himself Ace Rimmer.

  • If he doesn’t want people to think he’s gay, he shouldn’t have called himself Ace Rimmer.

    Ace Rimmer isn’t gay. Allo Rimmer, on the other hand…

  • Allo Rimmer, on the other hand…

    “I was pissing by in the Whirled-four when I saw Stir-boog blowing off like an exploding bum.”

  • There’s not so much of a leap from Rob’s “old love” version of Ace and a version talking about his “little ship” and him flirting with… actually, there’s no suitable Red Dwarf equivalent of Rene, so let’s leave it at that.

  • I’ve been thinking about the structure of this book and the more I think about it, the more it feels like having an entire chunk of Ace Rimmer and his world as part two is a poor choice.

    From the prologue, we already know this book is going to involve Ace. Given that, I wonder if it would have been better to intersperse the Ace chapters among the Backwards-Earth chapters, gradually teasing out the Ace side of the story – maybe having chapters that alternate between the two, or even just throwing in the occasional Ace chapter as an interlude before the stories converge later on.

    Doing it that way could help make the plot of this second section (such as it is) feel a bit less thin, and stretching out the mystery of Ace’s death would keep it as an occasional bit of subplot intrigue rather than the primary plot of the entire second section – which as written rips us away from our favourite characters for an entire chunk of the book, in favour of not-terribly-interesting alternate versions of two of them.

    Ultimately, I think Ace is nice in small doses, like ketchup. But part two of this book feels like a whole meal of ketchup.

  • I think if you interspersed it between the first backwards Earth sections you’d ruin the quick pace flow of that section

    I don’t remember the next part too well so it could potentially go there

    But I generally disagree with the premise that it’s a poor choice.

    For a start you’re assuming people reading this book know who Ace is and what’s coming. That may well be the case for the vast majority of people but it isn’t for everything and Rob and Doug never wrote their novels assuming anyone had seen the show at all.

    Rob’s set up two worlds, opened up the book with two mysteries, and at some point they’re going to collide. That’s quite exciting in and of itself.

    But I also think the Ace part is pretty damn good and deserves the time and space in its own right. It’s intriguing, a nice departure. And serves to be a sort of passages of time fly-by almost as when we next return to Backwards-Earth, a decade has passed.

  • And serves to be a sort of passages of time fly-by almost as when we next return to Backwards-Earth, a decade has passed.

    That’s a good point. Maybe the book did need something substantial between the two periods on Backwards Earth so that the time-jump doesn’t seem jarring.

    Maybe calling it a poor choice is too strong. But there’s a sense of things dragging on a bit during the whole Ace section, of the reader being ahead of the characters for much of it, and that sense of the pace dragging isn’t very common for the Red Dwarf novels – they usually burn through ideas quicker than that.

  • The idea that someone would be enough of a fan to read the joint-third Red Dwarf tie-in novel but wouldn’t know who Ace Rimmer is isn’t such a barmy notion for the time.

    I’d only seen Dimension Jump before reading because my high school library had a few choice bytes and that was one of them (1.2, 3.2, 4.2 – so I hadn’t seen Backwards), along with the Backwards audiobook. I always saw the book in shops through the late 90s, during which time the non-remastered Grant Naylor years weren’t available on video or repeated on terrestrial. Admittedly, you could just check out the comedy section in Blockbuster, but I wouldn’t think of that for a year or two.

  • <

    of the reader being ahead of the characters for much of it

    This is a bit of an issue (though I feel issue is the wrong word) and once that happens often in media. You have characters that are set up to be incredibly smart, who then are for no rhyme or reason held back from the most obvious conclusions just for the sake of eeking some story and mystery out.

    But it is a nice flip from the previous section where Lister as well as the reader isn’t aware of who committed the murder. This is more of a “who do they figure it out” rather than a “whodunnit” I suppose.

    What the Ace section is I’ve just realised, is like the first section of Infinity, where the world is built up and then as quickly left behind. Ace’s section creates this rich world of characters and then he buggers off.

    Maybe Dimension Jump was the book Rob wanted to write but felt he needed to find a way of resolving the Backwards-Earth thing they’d set up. Whereas Doug just went “fuck that” stuck two fingers up at it and more or less ignored it.

  • The idea that someone would be enough of a fan to read the joint-third Red Dwarf tie-in novel but wouldn’t know who Ace Rimmer is isn’t such a barmy notion for the time.

    It is a bit barmy, but I think Bloodteller had read the books before seeing all the show.

    My point was more to the fact that they write with that assumption most of the time. They start from scratch and set up and describe everything in detail rather than taking short-cuts as just assuming you know what they’re talking about.

  • A lot of my problems with the structure are more about what happens next, and the continued framing of the midlogue, endlogue…with what happens to Ace and Arnold.

    The frustrating thing about it is that the logues are my favourite bits of the novel. But they just don’t seem to belong to *this^ novel.

    I don’t really have a problem with the way this Ace stuff breaks up the Backwards stuff (despite my misgivings about the character and his presence here). I think if you flipped back and forth between the two realities, it would also unsettle the reader’s understanding of what the hell is going on. Reading part 1, I find myself constantly working out things in a forward narrative. If we were bouncing between backwards and forwards realities with gay abandon, it might get even more complex.

  • Also, ostensibly, the Ace stuff happens at an entirely different time, (although that is never addressed in book or show*). Alternating chapters would make them seem like they were happening more side by side.

    *which brings me to a thought, perhaps the universal timelines aren’t in sync, otherwise why would Wildfire break through to a time and reality where Rimmer is dead and not earlier in his time line when he is alive?

    Unless it acts like the TARDIS and takes Ace where he needs to go.

  • What the Ace section is I’ve just realised, is like the first section of Infinity, where the world is built up and then as quickly left behind. Ace’s section creates this rich world of characters and then he buggers off.

    That was exactly what I thought too. It’s very like the first 100 pages or so of Infinity in style and in its slightly meandering pacing. But I think Infinity benefits from that buzz that we’re getting all these extra details about pre-accident Lister and Rimmer. There isn’t quite the same thrill here finding out about Bungo’s career.

  • *which brings me to a thought, perhaps the universal timelines aren’t in sync, otherwise why would Wildfire break through to a time and reality where Rimmer is dead and not earlier in his time line when he is alive?

    Unless it acts like the TARDIS and takes Ace where he needs to go.

    I always presumed that it was more of an age thing – that it takes Ace to a Rimmer of the same age as him, rather than him as a toddler or old man or whatever.

    Presumably Ace is already older at this point than our Rimmer was when he died. That synchs up with the stint on Red Dwarf being back in Lister’s past too.

    So presumably when you take Rimmer’s death-age and add it to how long he’s lived as a hologram that adds up to Ace’s current age.

    Just don’t ask how Rimmer’s stasis-boothery and the Backwards Earth factors into this. In fact, don’t ask anything.

  • There isn’t quite the same thrill here finding out about Bungo’s career.

    I dunno, I like that in a third book we’re getting to know a little about someone else. As I said in my comments when reading, these characters could have just been treated like in the show, a few lines, no exploration of them, hello goodbye. But we get some time to find out who they are and it puts a nice twist on the whole Wildfire project. Sort of the fact it couldn’t have worked if these people weren’t the people they are.

    <

    So presumably when you take Rimmer’s death-age and add it to how long he’s lived as a hologram that adds up to Ace’s current age.

    Ok I’ll buy that. But then it would lead Wildfire to take Ace to a number of dimensions where Rimmer is dead and isn’t a hologram.

  • Ok I’ll buy that. But then it would lead Wildfire to take Ace to a number of dimensions where Rimmer is dead and isn’t a hologram.

    Look, I don’t make the rules up.

    (Oh actually it seems like that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.)

  • I think if you interspersed it between the first backwards Earth sections you’d ruin the quick pace flow of that section

    I found Part One a bit relentless at times so something different to break it up might have worked for me, and mitigated the overuse of slightly contrived cliffhanger chapter endings. I agree it’s better that Part Two is separate though, for the other reasons people have pointed to. Perhaps even one or two ‘Meanwhile on Red Dwarf…’ chapters with the ******** might have worked in Part One?

  • Er, sorry, our previously statement that we’d be recording this weekend is now no longer true so you have an extra week to catch up you need.

  • Er, sorry, our previously statement that we’d be recording this weekend is now no longer true so you have an extra week to catch up you need.

    Lewis Pemberton would never have betrayed us like this.

  • The next Dwarfcast will arrive three days before it’s recorded, and everyone in it will be dead.

  • I think we should note for the record that the reason for the delay is that, for the second year in a row, we scheduled a date and then Cappsy suddenly remembered that it’s his partner’s birthday.

  • I think we should note for the record that the reason for the delay is that, for the second year in a row, we scheduled a date and then Cappsy suddenly remembered that it’s his partner’s birthday.

    What a guy.

  • I’m sure other people have made most of these points anyway, but here we are…

    Chapters one, two and three

    A much needed change of location, as the Backwards universe was starting to get a little tedious.

    A genuinely funny line to me, “his brothers had cast him as General Custer while they played the Sioux nation.”

    Another good cliffhanger ending to chapter 3 and interesting that Rob tried to add some mystery to this section of the book as well.

  • Chapters four, five and six

    The description of Spanners here seems quite a long way removed from the character in Dimension Jump. In that episode he was described as doing “really well” (if memory serves), but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    Chapter six is quite long and suffers from a couple of issues for me.

    The first is that the descriptions of tachyon densities and super-friction equations feel garbled and a little impenetrable.

    The second is that having such a long conversation between any 3 characters who are not part of the main crew starts to get a little dull.

  • Chapters seven, eight, nine and ten

    I understand the use of the Billy-Joe/Mamie story as a replacement for Ace sitting by a child’s bedside. Neither are particularly original ideas, though.

    It’s a nice exercise in nostalgia to bring Petersen back, but he is pretty much a one joke character.

    I’m not sure the descriptions of Tranter’s career add a lot and, while I was glad to get away from Backworld at the end of Part One, I don’t particularly want to spend any more time in this universe.

    I don’t think it was necessarily a great idea to have nothing of our crew members spening time in their own world (up to this point).

  • The description of Spanners here seems quite a long way removed from the character in Dimension Jump. In that episode he was described as doing “really well” (if memory serves), but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    Lister describes him as doing really well for himself after Ace tells him about him.

    I think that’s right though. From Lister’s perspective, Spanners is doing great. He’s an engineer in the Space Corp, married to Kochanski.

    Compared to him he has most the things he wants.

  • SEVEN

    Couldn’t Mamie just ask out Billy Joe if she a) is so infatuated with him that she’s planned all this – and b) is so sure that he just needs a confidence boost? Rather than contriving fights in bars, couldn’t Ace just give her 2 minutes of advice amounting to “ask him out, lovesausage”

    Because Billy-Joe is kind of an analogue for Rimmer/Ace, I think we’re meant to infer that by staging the fight, Ace is solving all of his confidence issues in one fell swoop, so his career, lovelife etc. will all pan out vastly differently than if Ace hadn’t intervened. It’s a pivotal moment like George decking Biff. Except the decision to either stay down or get up and fight in the bar is Billy-Joe’s, whereas being kept down or not was out of Rimmer’s hands. I suppose we’re not really meant to think about the fact that there are countless realities where Ace’s plan simply didn’t work, and countless more where it only half worked i.e. Billy-Joe passed the flight exam but bottled asking out Mamie, despite Ace’s assurance that he will ask her to the ball.
    And in-universe: I guess in the hokey, weirdly old fashioned world where this part of the novel takes place, a girl asking out a boy just isn’t the done thing? Overall I don’t mind this little romantic subplot, but it doesn’t quite work on all the levels it’s meant to.

  • Because Billy-Joe is kind of an analogue for Rimmer/Ace, I think we’re meant to infer that by staging the fight, Ace is solving all of his confidence issues in one fell swoop, so his career, lovelife etc. will all pan out vastly differently than if Ace hadn’t intervened. It’s a pivotal moment like George decking Biff

    The parallel with BTTF is interesting and has crossed my mind before, and also because not only is it a pivotal moment for the characters (George/Billy-Joe) but also because it’s part of a scheme by someone trying to orchestrate events.

    The reason why I find it considerably more “elegant” in BTTF is not only the fact that the situation spirals out of control, but also that that Marty has the benefit of a knowing how things will go if George lacks the courage to *kiss* Lorraine. Ace has no such foresight about whether Billy-Joe is destined to fail his exams…or even whether Billy-Joe even fancies Mamie.

    It just seems like a very convoluted plan. Especially since, she’s been put up to it by Mamie, who is really in this scheme for wholly selfish reasons. I mean, I’m sure she’s pleased he’s got his gold wings, but really all she wants is for Billy-Joe to get his arse in gear and ask her out.

  • Can someone please give me a hand here?

    I listened to the unabridged audiobook versions of Infinity and BTL, then I decided I’d read the book for Last Human, as I remembered Craig’s narration being a bit bland.

    However! I wanted to switch back to the audiobook for Backwards as I remembered Rob’s performance being more lively and interesting. But I recently read that a big chunk is missing from the audiobook (all the Western stuff).

    I want the FULL PACKAGE, so I’ve bought a copy of Backwards as well. My question is this; have they removed one big section, or lots of little bits? I’d quite like to try say, reading one chapter and then listening to the next one, but would it be possible to do this without missing out on any content?

  • There’ll be major and minor cuts all over the place to trim it down by about two thirds (the earlier novels were over 8 hours unabridged, Backwards is a slightly longer book still abridged to 3 hours). I think the later sections are the most hacked up, but it’ll skip over ‘disposable’ sentences and scenes all over the place.

    If you don’t feel like reading the full book, you could maybe listen to the first one or two sections that might be mostly/more intact so you’ll be up to speed with the DwarfCasts, then carry on with the book later. I find it’s a well written book that moves along quickly anyway.

  • The Gunmen section is indeed missing from the audiobook but most chapters, in the first two parts at least, are trimmed down as well. Chapter 5 of Part 2 is cut out altogether.

  • EIGHT

    Lovely stuff but why does Petersen call Lister his “old Building and Loan drinking buddy”? Is that a reference to It’s a Wonderful Life?

  • I *think* it is but…it’s weird, for sure. “Old Building and Loan drinking pal” pops up a couple of times in IAWL..but I don’t get why Petersen would call Lister that. Oblique reference for the sake of an oblique reference?

    Incidentally, didn’t Petersen go tee-total shortly before Lister went into stasis in our dimension? I blame Pemberton for making him fall off the wagon in Ace’s reality.

  • Unless it is an actual reference to something, then I’d just imagine it’s an off the wall characteristic of Petersen’s. He just uses a bit of weird phrasing.

  • I’ve never really cared for the Discworld books, but I try again every few years to see where I’m going wrong. Just read an aside in Pyramids about reannual wine that gives you a hangunder before you drink it and later needs to be unmade and the grapes planted. Published June 1989, and Rob has mentioned Discworld before, so definitely the entire inspiration for Backwards there (recorded Sep ’89). Either that or Doug rewinded through some adverts on video and thought that looked funny.

  • CHAPTER TWO and CHAPTER TEN

    In the two Tranter chapters, the descriptions of Space Corps bureaucracy, and Bungo’s paranoia about what might have stalled his career, very vaguely reminded me of Catch-22. Specifically, the idea of a character’s name leading to them getting promoted to a certain rank, but no further, reminded me of the story of Major Major Major Major.

    The other thing I thought of was Stephen Root’s character in the movie Office Space, who got fired, but was never told about it and continued to get paid.

    These are Peter Tranter’s nicknames listed at the start of chapter 2, and in italics are the ones that this chapter’s narration uses to to refer to him:

    Bungo
    The Admiral
    Himself
    Skunk Foot
    Vinegar Drawers
    Bun-bun
    Cheese

    Chapter 10 adds “Admiral Stinkfoot-No-More”. (Stinkfoot, this time, not Skunk Foot!)

    CHAPTER FOUR

    “And, best of all, he would feel incredibly horny.” Expert use of foreshadowing for something that will be important in Chapter 6. (Chekhov’s erection?)

    CHAPTER SIX

    In Chapter 4, it’s 4am, two hours to Wildfire launch, when Spanners realises the vital difference about the black box recording. Then in Chapter 6, after they’ve travelled to Tranter’s office and have been showing him the recording (which was said to be about 15 minutes long) for some time, it’s 5am.

    That means that Ace has worked out the maths of reality jumping, travelled to the scientists, explained what was wrong with their theory, travelled to Tranter’s office, and started to explain things to him, all within an hour? I know, “what a guy”, and all that, but one hour is just a bit too short a gap for me to believe all that happened. If it had been three or four hours, it wouldn’t bother me, even though that’s scarcely more plausible!

    Something that’s never brought up here, but should be thought of by someone as smart as Ace Rimmer. At the same time as the “alpha” Ace Rimmer featured here leaves his reality, shouldn’t Spanners and Tranter expect to greet another Ace Rimmer, arriving in theirs from a different reality where he used slightly different Wildfire settings? If he’s right about there being an infinite number of parallel universes, the correct Wildfire settings for that to happen must have happened somewhere

    (I can’t remember if this is addressed later in the book.)

    CHAPTER EIGHT

    In this most important chapter, we are introduced to Our Lord and Saviour Lewis “Lew” Pemberton, infinite praise be unto Him.

  • That means that Ace has worked out the maths of reality jumping, travelled to the scientists, explained what was wrong with their theory, travelled to Tranter’s office, and started to explain things to him, all within an hour?

    Whilst there is absolutely no hint of this in the book, it wouldn’t be outside the realms of possibility that Ace had it all figured out hours ago, and was just waiting for Spanners to catch up so he can take the credit.

    Then it’s just a matter of assembling scientists (probably already assembled trying to figure this nonsense out) and outline the maths he has been up all night himself working on

  • Something that’s never brought up here, but should be thought of by someone as smart as Ace Rimmer. At the same time as the “alpha” Ace Rimmer featured here leaves his reality, shouldn’t Spanners and Tranter expect to greet another Ace Rimmer, arriving in theirs from a different reality where he used slightly different Wildfire settings? If he’s right about there being an infinite number of parallel universes, the correct Wildfire settings for that to happen must have happened somewhere…

    (I can’t remember if this is addressed later in the book.)

    Well, they already had their Rimmer arrive. The dead one that arrived early. If they got another Rimmer it means someone else would have to go without.

  • Well presumably a universe can have multiple Ace’s turn up at different times for various reasons.

  • I suppose so.

    A question I’d never considered before is what happens in the universes where Rimmer doesn’t become Ace and doesn’t dimension-jump. Does someone else do it instead?

    I guess the answer might be different for the book and TV versions, given that Ace largely comes up with the theory in the book whereas some other boffins come up with it on TV.

  • I assume there’s another top test pilot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they go on to become an Ace like hero.

    Perhaps it’s in Ace’s character to take on the mission, but no-one else would.

    In the TV show, he is given the option and he does it even though he knows it is a one way trip.

    In the book as you say, it’s on him to figure out the dimension jumping maths involved because the craft as originally intended fails, so without him, (but also without a failed attempt from another reality) it wouldn’t succeed anyway.

  • Given that I guess the number of Aces who become dimension-hopping heroes is much reduced in the novel-verse. For every one that succeeds at least one has to have died and also has to arrive early enough for them to figure it all out. Unless there are other universes in which he figures it out some other way, I suppose.

  • Given that a mild interest in quantum physics and science fiction would be enough to get anybody in our reality to come to the multiverse conclusion, I don’t think Ace’s theory should be outright dismissed.

  • The class ranking conversation was ages ago, but I just thought to link it to Red Dwarf’s pecking order where Rimmer and Lister are reminded that they’re 168th and 169th every time they order food. Does that have any basis in real life services/military, or did Rob/Doug’s school experiences just really mess them up?

  • That’s interesting to think about actually. It sort of assumes Red Dwarf left dock and all the crew were assigned their user ID etc, which incorporates their numerical position in the ships hierarchy. Except, what happens if say, Lister were to be promoted? Would his ID change? Seems unnecessary and cumbersome, not to mention a digital record keeping nightmare.

  • Maybe it’s by order of initial recruitment and it resets for each jaunt depending on the latest iteration of the crew.

  • I wanna bring up voice of Djuhn’Keep in the audiobook. Rob’s voice for him is the same one he used for The Nether Regions sketch on hipster. Though slightly camper… (I say this cause when I heard them preforming this skit in the audience. I couldn’t get the Djuhn’Keep out of my head !!!)

  • You mean to tell me that a as a bunch of smart, well educated adults aren’t capable of reading 4 books in a year when we’ve all just been sat at home?

  • They grow up so fast!

    You mean to tell me that a as a bunch of smart, well educated adults aren’t capable of reading 4 books in a year when we’ve all just been sat at home?

    my excuse is we’re enjoying doing Backwards so much that we’re wanting to savour it as much as possible, which is lucky considering this book will need five parts, lol.

  • I couldn’t be bothered reading the rest of the book, so I just rented the VHS and was done in 90 minutes.

  • I’m not so keen on the video. Starts out all Backwards-y but then re-treads old ground from the BTL novel, doesn’t even mention Ace or the Western storylines at all.

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