DwarfCast 143 - Book Club #15: Backwards (Part Four) featured image
Subscribe to DwarfCasts:  RSS  •  iTunes

It’s been a little while coming, but please take your seats, grab a coffee and arrange your notes because the book club is back and we have a lot of… interesting material to cover. Join a crossed legged Ian, Cappsy and Danny as they wince their way through what is undoubtedly the moment that Rob Grant’s Backwards takes a bit of of a turn to the sadistic. But never fear, because Ace also makes his triumphant return, thus signalling that everything will be absolutely fine. Right?

DwarfCast 143 – Book Club #15: Backwards (Part Four) (101MB)

We’re still working through our DwarfCast backlog a bit but never fear, we’ll be recording the FINAL EVER episode of the Book Club within the next few weeks, so you now officially have our permission to finish Backwards and get your thoughts over to us in the comments below. Next up in your feeds will be our Wafflemen Special #2: Electric Waffleloo, and after that will be the first in our new loosely defined ‘commentaries about anything we fucking want thank you very much’ series, more on which we will reveal soon.

Show notes

150 comments on “DwarfCast 143 – Book Club #15: Backwards (Part Four)

Scroll to bottom

  • I often glance at the shownotes before listening to the Dwarfcast, and in cases like today think “oh, this is going to be a good one”.

  • We probably don’t need to be that coy about the end of the book, because everyone’s probably so fucking sick of waiting for us that they’ve read to the end anyway.

    I HADN’T, YOU BASTARDS.

    I’ve read it before, yeah, but not for a good few years and I’d forgotten.

  • ONE

    A reprise of the It’s a Wonderful Life type of stuff. Quintessentially novel-Dwarf, if repetitive, but I like the slow and ominous setup for the finale.

    TWO to SIX

    I enjoyed all the exciting action on that basic level, it doesn’t all have to be funny or clever. Still, the nitpicks start to spoil things now:

    – After Rob paid so much attention to gravity and motion earlier, Pizzak’rapp’s astonishingly convenient space flight is just stupid.

    – Saying that, I don’t know about the credible physics of sound travelling through surfaces when he sticks his artificial ears and lips over everything to seal the vacuum. Super suck.

    – Did there really need to be two agonoids? Ace’s sacrifice would feel less anticlimactic if he’d saved them from Dhjun’keep rather than the mini boss, and reopening the hole again is just repetitive.

    But some former grievances didn’t bother me this time:

    – Ace does feel dispensed with now he’s run his course, but that’s necessary to get back to the main guys. It’s your stock Obi Wan sacrifice, maybe his influence will rub off on them, maybe it did already. The Wildfire drive keeps it from being a dead end.

    – Rob keeps insisting that he youthed the characters on purpose, with Lister’s reckless bravado getting them into scrapes and making him more susceptible to Ace’s influence, so I’ll buy it. It’s not going to change now, is it?

    Misc:

    – Cat threatening to shoot Lister was clever. We don’t get inside Cat’s head, so we can take it as a bluff or genuine by this point, I like both options.

  • The question as to how is Ace more handsome, you guys are bang on with it being how he carries himself, his confidence and all that. You only have to look at how Chris plays the character to see the differences between the two and Ace coming across as more attractive. It’s comparable (although Chris’ change isn’t anywhere near as night and day different) to Christopher Reeves in Superman, how he plays Clark Kent and Kal’El so blindingly differently they to the outside world they are entirely different people. And the Kal’El version, standing straight and tall, with muscle and confidence, and a commanding voice that isn’t weasely is by far the more handsome of the two. Same with Ace and Rimmer.

  • The question as to how is Ace more handsome, you guys are bang on with it being how he carries himself, his confidence and all that. You only have to look at how Chris plays the character to see the differences between the two and Ace coming across as more attractive. It’s comparable (although Chris’ change isn’t anywhere near as night and day different) to Christopher Reeves in Superman, how he plays Clark Kent and Kal’El so blindingly differently they to the outside world they are entirely different people. And the Kal’El version, standing straight and tall, with muscle and confidence, and a commanding voice that isn’t weasely is by far the more handsome of the two. Same with Ace and Rimmer.

    Yes, this.

    One of my favourite comics artists, Frank Quitely, did some wonderful studies of Clark Kent/Superman to explore how body language, posture and other relatively minor changes can completely alter the impression of the same physical body.

    I think that’s definitely at play with Ace.

  • ONE
    Rob and Doug really do love a part-opening surprise chapter, don’t they? If you’d not seen Gunmen this would be totally baffling.

    “All nonchalant-like” – the narrator is in Carton-mode here, then. Carton-mode, what a weird phrase.

    Ah, the metaphorical names come in quickly, showing this isn’t reality. Jeff Calculator is an incredibly funny name.

    “A tumbleweed clichéd across the street.” Classic Grant Naylor.

    It’s odd, despite a much larger fleshing out of the Sheriff’s character, this somehow manages to feel more slight than the TV version to me.

  • Define “next few weeks”.

    Let’s say ‘within October’ for the recording. Most likely the first half of it.

  • One of my favourite comics artists, Frank Quitely, did some wonderful studies of Clark Kent/Superman to explore how body language, posture and other relatively minor changes can completely alter the impression of the same physical body.

    I love this. Seb got me onto Frank when I was living with him and All Star Superman remains one of my favourite ever series, along with We3.

  • ONE

    A good, different take on beginning a part of the book with characters other than the crew. Obviously if you’ve seen the show you know what’s going on anyway but it’s a decent twist, and I like little clues like Billy saying that Carton has no hair.

    The jokes about Tommy Tate and Carton charging Billy for the badge are horrible but very funny.

    I think “A tumbleweed clichéd across the street” is my favourite one of those yet.

    Impossible not to hear the version of the theme tune from the scene in Gunmen on reading “the old honky-tonk keys tinkling inside the saloon”.

    There’s moose material in both Doug Dwarf and Rob Dwarf.

    TWO

    Ace’s superhuman stoicism here only makes his death that much more bleak. Still doing the stupid pet names when he’s about to die horribly is silly but also really grim, somehow worse than if he’d been screaming and begging.

    Nice bit of continuity with the Cat wearing his gold cone-shaped helmet from the ‘Kryten’ section of the first novel.

  • One of my favourite comics artists, Frank Quitely, did some wonderful studies of Clark Kent/Superman to explore how body language, posture and other relatively minor changes can completely alter the impression of the same physical body.

    I love this. Seb got me onto Frank when I was living with him and All Star Superman remains one of my favourite ever series, along with We3.

    Yeah, We3 is superb.

    If you liked that there’s a new series that has just launched called Primordial (by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino) that seems very We3-inspired and is telling a “secret history” story about the fate of the animals that were used in the early stages of the space race. Only one issue out so far, but it’s great.

  • I don’t know about anyone else but I’m more worried about why Superman has lost an arm!

    He’s lost his watch too.

  • HIGH MIDNIGHT

    ONE

    Great to just be plunged into the world of Gunmen here. I like the way the narrator’s cadence even changes to match the western milieu – stuff like “all nonchalant-like” and “one of them fancy parasol contraptions from Paris, Europe” is lovely.

    All the machine names like Jeff Calculator and Wyatt Memory are a bit weird though. Does Carton have some computer-related meaning that I’m missing, other than (obviously) sounding close to Kryten? I guess “Will” maybe signifies his need to find the willpower to overcome the Apocalypse virus, and also ties up with Billy Belief later.

    “A tumbleweed clichéd across the street” is vintage Grant Naylor.

    “Some Arapho, some Navajo, some Idunno” is vintage Two Ronnies.

    “I just threw down my six shooters, rolled up my sleeves and ducked it out with ’em” is a weird image. Presumably it should be “duked”? Was this corrected in the paperback?

    After this there’s a lot lifted from the early western scenes in Gunmen, but it reads very nicely. And there are some nice little additions, like the suggestion that Jimmy represents Kryten’s guilt and the barmaid his sense of Hope.

    In the unlikely event that anyone ever read this novel without seeing Gunmen first, I wonder what they made of it? It’s an intriguing “cold open” to this section and obviously a callback to Kryten’s book, but I wonder how well it would work without the “oh great, it’s Gunmen!” factor. Would it even be clear at this point that Kryten is the sheriff?

    TWO

    This all gets quite exciting quite quickly.

    But strangely, one part that has always stuck in my mind from this chapter (and this book in general) is the quiet image of Lister suspended in space, slightly too far away from Starbug’s airlock to be able to reach, with no means of propulsion. It’s such an absurd, painful, teasing, somehow relatable situation and it feels like Rob could have drawn it out for a bit longer.

    Also, despite finding Ace to be a bit more of a knob in the book than in the TV series (well, than Dimension Jump at least), his death here feels like quite a sudden, unexpected and tragic moment. All that Ace Rimmer buildup was for this? I guess they have to get rid of him somehow.

    THREE 

    This is a nice little interlude with Kryten. It’s been a while since we’ve had any quiet moments like this, so him unsuccessfully trying to cheer himself up is a nice bit of character comedy.

    FOUR

    Rimmer suddenly becoming competent and assertive here (inspired by Ace’s death?) is a nice little character moment too.

    These chapters are short, aren’t they? Was Rob being paid per chapter?

    FIVE 

    Another short, but exciting, chapter. Cat being smart enough to threaten Lister is interesting – even if I’m not sure I quite buy it – and feels a little bit like his “psychopath” moment at the end of Cured.

    SIX

    Another sonic screwdriver!

    Again, a nice quick and exciting chapter, with some decent comedy moments too: Kryten’s “I’m pinned down under a rather large sheet of metal” is lovely.

    Although “we’d better get this tea chest back to the lipstick-coloured vertically challenged one” is definitely an Ace line, not a Kryten one.

    It is quite remarkable how fast all the Agonoid stuff is swept aside to move on to Gunmen, though. I guess having Lister and the Agonoids (good band name?) together is never really going to work for long, as there’s a limit to how much tension you can drag out of it and how incompetent you can make the Agonoids to allow the Dwarfers to escape.

    SEVEN

    A refreshingly long chapter, this one. We get nicely stuck into the world of Gunmen here, and I like that it’s not just a straight lift of the episode – there’s quite a lot of good stuff here that’s new.

    There are some fun embellishments to the barroom scene here, like Cat’s maracas, the pool ball, and especially Rimmer creatively insulting the cowboys, which really feels like a moment that should have made the episode.

    Also, “Snake tails” is a great way of describing dreadlocks.

    I also love the winking quality of Carton feeling like he sees Cat shoot the bullets out of the air in slow motion.

    However, describing Cat’s ricocheting bullet taking out Kryten with the sign in prose is never going to be even 5% as funny as seeing it on-screen.

    EIGHT

    Oh, Rob’s remembered he’s being paid by the chapter again.

    NINE 

    I wonder why Rimmer is “Big Dan McGrew” rather than “Dangerous”?

    “War Apocalypse” is a funny name spelled out like that. I never thought of Apocalypse literally being their surname.

    The whole “not dead” bit feels very consciously Python/Holy Grail.

    Rimmer calling people “retards” is one of those uncomfortable anachronistic shudders, isn’t it?

    And “oh smeggy pudding” is just weird.

    Am I wrong, or does Rob forget to set up the idea that you have to clap to get out of the AR game? When Rimmer claps to quit, it feels like it comes out of nowhere (unless, of course, you’ve seen the TV version).

    TEN

    This chapter (as well as the previous, and the next) is a great expansion of Gunmen, and makes you realise how quickly they had to rush through things to get through the plot in the TV version.

    The more gradual, incremental sense of things getting worse in the novel works really well, and the individual encounters with the Apocalypse Boys are nice little moments all on their own.

    Oh, and this being Rob, everything seems to be that little bit more gory and gruesome than it needs to be.

    ELEVEN

    The notion of the virus spreading to the hologram generation unit and rewriting Rimmer is kind of horrible but also kind of interesting, even here in abstract, before what happens later.

    Again, this is really good stuff that builds tension effectively for the big showdown. It feels like the pieces have all been laid out nicely, the stakes are clear and now we’re just waiting for it all to come together. 

    TWELVE

    That description of Death Apocalypse doesn’t sound much like Denis Lill. Unless Rob is being really unkind.

    I love that “come on, you flab-titted slag” manages to simultaneously evoke two of the most controversial jokes of the Dave era, like some sort of shitty Nostradamus. If only Famine had also spat on Lister’s wrist.

    Rimmer’s death is really, really horrible. Well done Rob.

    This is a really epic showdown at the end. Little details like Kryten being in the suit really enhance the whole thing. It’s one of the best episodes of Dwarf, but even better. One of the most successful novelisations of an episode in all four books, I think.

    THIRTEEN

    This is a nice alternate take on Gunmen’s ending that doesn’t give you the easy out you expect. Kryten and Rimmer being dead is as shocking as Out Of Time, and the fact that Lister and Cat don’t ultimately stop Starbug is a decent “what now?” moment.

    The final line of this chapter is great too – a combination of the end of Psirens and the end of, well, The End.

    Rob could almost have ended the book here if he wanted to be really ballsy.

    FOURTEEN

    The gazpacho soup callback is a lovely little bit of circularity that takes us back to Infinity. As is the mention of BTL.

    All in all, this stuff really serves to cement the idea in my mind that Backwards is the true third novel of the trilogy, and Last Human is really just some separate offshoot alternate-reality thing.

    Kryten’s “there’ll be time for that, sir” feels somehow bittersweet, decades on from publication. Let’s hope there will be.

    And “Maybe this was home” means there’s no fucking way you’re getting through the final Bookclub Dwarfcast without mentioning The Promised Land again.

    EPILOGUE: THE DIFFERENCE – 2

    This is a nice little counterpart to close off this whole vignette, but at this stage in the book it feels a little disconnected from the main story. Still, it’s a nice curtain call both  for Rimmer and for Ace, given that we just recently watched them both die horribly in different but equally gruesome ways.

  • Overall thoughts? Backwards was much better than I remembered, and definitely feels like the “true” third novel. It’s still not perfect – it’s choppy in places and the transitions between episodes aren’t 100% smooth, and the original stuff with the Agonoids is slightly patchy. But when it works – which is most of the time – it really works, and a lot of this really feels like vintage Dwarf.

    Most of all, it’s made me hope that this legendary new Rob novel really does happen at some point. And that it picks up right where this left off.

  • Impossible not to hear the version of the theme tune from the scene in Gunmen on reading “the old honky-tonk keys tinkling inside the saloon”.

    For sure. I heard a lot of that in my mind’s ear (?) while reading this section of the book.

  • Is that the only time the theme is used diegetically in the show? (I felt sure there was at least one other example but I might be thinking of Tongue Tied being on in the disco in Parallel Universe.) If so, what is that tune in the Red Dwarf universe? Did Kryten dream it or hear it somewhere else first?

  • TWO
    For a book so set on exploring the Rimmer / Ace dynamic, he isn’t half killed off in a rush. I’ve only ever really had two issues with this book, and I had both of them when I first read it as a kid. One is Lister and Cat being youthed, and the other is Ace just being killed off in a fairly off-hand manner. A couple of smiles aside, it’s not even a funny chapter, just… the death of Ace. And, of course, the removal of Piece of Crap. And Junk Heap leaving to find them. But mostly it’s The Chapter Where Ace Dies. He’s only in the book for about three chapters! Yeah. Still don’t think it works.

    THREE
    A really lovely little internal bit from Kryten, much needed after the last chapter. “After a dozen or so best-case scenarios had concluded with the death and destruction of all parties, Kryten decided to try and stop thinking altogether” is a marvellous sentence.

    FOUR
    And it’s another not-even-two-pages-long chapter. Is Rimmer being like that as a response to Ace’s sacrifice and seeing what he could be? Because he’s remarkably sensible and decisive and not at all cowardly for a moment here.

    FIVE
    Fucking SCSI socket. You what mate.

    Cat threatening to kill Lister is a really nice moment, a great twist. And another chapter is over. C’mon Rob, what are you playing at here? These last three chapters could have been one if it weren’t for THE CLIFFHANGERS.

    Motherf-, ucker or otherwise, is a REALLY un-Dwarf word.

    SIX
    Junk Heap is written remarkably like Kryten in the opening of this chapter. “Ah yes,” “Just bear with me a moment.” I wonder if it’s an intentional parallel.

    Plastic-faced buffoon is a remarkably tame insult for the agonoid to give to Kryten, given that his shipmates routinely give him far, far worse.

    “Right now, we’d better get this tea chest back to the lipstick-coloured vertically-challenged one.” I had to go back and re-read the whole section because I refuse to believe Rob would write Kryten like that. Doug committed similar crimes in Last Human (wasn’t there a “hubba hubba” at one point?) but Rob’s been far better with characterisation so far.

    And then the agonoids are done with. Almost as much build-up as Ace, and dispatched just as quickly. I know it’s all a set up for Gunmen, but I’d really rather have had a new section with Ace and the agonoids and, I dunno, something slightly more exciting maybe. Perhaps it wouldn’t translate so well onto screen, but I’m imagining a section where they’re hiding from them on Red Dwarf and they end up flushing them out into space and Cat accidentally gets them caught and Rimmer does a bit surrender speech and Kryten gets to realise how much more worthwhile he is as a direct comparison to the agonoids so his self-esteem goes up…

    SEVEN
    The descriptions of Cat and Rimmer are enough to make you realise what’s going on here, and in some ways it’s a really nice way to do it – without the visuals you’re left guessing (presuming you didn’t already know Gunmen) and it’s always a good trope. Really reminds me of some of the ’90s Doctor Who novels where you’re trying to work out what the hell’s going on and how the characters are in a totally different reality.

    The character names like Hope are somewhat reminiscent of the metaphorical graves in Terrorform. Not exactly subtle, but they do the job.

    Not sure if the pool ball is a funnier image than the apple or not. Did they have pool in the wild west?

    I get the Cat dance being a way to extend it on paper, but it definitely feels like overkill to me. The quick guitar motif was absolutely perfect.

    “Their underpants smelled like smokey bacon” is such a Rimmer line I can actually hear Chris Barrie saying it in my head.

    The Cat shooting the gag really, really doesn’t translate to paper. If I was reading this for the first time it might possibly raise a smile, but it’s such a visual gag.

    It makes me think – and I know he’d think it was totally underneath him – but if Rimmer had spent some time in these games, his self-esteem might be a bit higher.

    EIGHT
    A page of script from Gunmen. I honestly think this would have worked better as exposition within the game rather than another flashback.

    NINE
    There’s said exposition. Another paragraph or two added to that would have made it feel far smoother.

    The virus taking out Kryten’s systems as metaphors is a nice addition to the story, not something they would have had time for in the TV version and a worthy addition. Waiting for some new jokes in this section, still, but you can’t have everything I suppose.

    “John Wayned down on to the street.” Good to see the Grant Naylorisms are there to the bitter end.

    Rimmer enjoying being macho is funny and quite sweet.

    The funeral scene is also pretty amusing (‘retards’ aside), “possibly one blessed with the gift of eyesight, perhaps” being another so-Rimmer-you-can-hear-it phrase. “Smeggy pudding” is even better.

    Cat’s shot himself in the foot, and Rob’s back in the room. Time for some totally horrible, unnecessary pain and torture to see out the book.

    TEN
    “Stupid smegging farty stupid shitty shit shit smeg fart poo shit” is a line I had memorised for quite a few years. Still, shinbone visible through a cut? Go team Rob!

    Lister’s insults followed by Famine’s fart. Rob’s enjoying being pretty juvenile here. I’m enjoying it too. Speaking of which, who’s forgotten all about Lister and Cat being teenagers by this point?

    I think Famine eating Lister’s finger is the point I realised I was becoming somewhat uncomfortable with this novel on first read. It goes beyond a bit icky into genuinely fucking unpleasant territory. And then the crushing… Jesus Christ.

    “Lister snorted a laugh, and almost killed himself” is a line I remember well, Rob using his dark side to be funny rather than unnecessary. The almost farcical injuries at the end are also pretty good.

    ELEVEN
    Where on Earth did they get all the medical help from?

    The childish quibbling is decent. No classic lines, but still familiar enough in style. Unlike Last Human (there’s the inevitable comparison), where the serious bits are serious, and the funny bits are just taken from the episodes, Rob’s clearly capable of writing new proper Red Dwarf dialogue and making it worthwhile, even in this section which is more reliant on serious bits and word-for-word chunks of Gunmen.

    The idea of High Midnight is quite fun, but there isn’t really any point to it, is there? It’s like, do a western parody but MaKe iT DaAaaRk!!!

    God, so much of this new dialogue is absolutely spot-on, especially Rimmer’s stuff. I do wonder if the two of them had more influence in character directions, because Last Human, VII and VIII really cast Lister and Kryten at the centre of things, whereas this book is full of Rimmer stuff and great new Rimmer rants, and some decent Cat one-liners. It’s balanced out in the meantime, since Doug’s obviously gone and rewatched old shows and recaptured some of the original essence, and I could just be clutching at straws here, but this does seem like one huge difference between the two books.

    TWELVE
    God, Cat being shot through the head and surviving. We now enter new levels of For Fuck’s Sake Rob. At least Lister’s decapitation has some humour to it? And, of course, he saves the worst for Rimmer. I think this bit actually mentally scarred me as a kid. It’s actually too far. Even if Cat’s question is utterly brilliant (and deserved).

    THIRTEEN
    Just in case it wasn’t all enough, Rob has now killed off another two of the main characters and abandoned Starbug and Red Dwarf. What a guy.

    FOURTEEN
    I’m assuming this is about as close as the Wildfire can get to a similar reality without burning up. There’s really not that much difference between the two. It’s a really nice idea, though, and a final link to the first books that makes it feel like part of the same series.

    “You picked a rare old time to show up. We’re about to be…” fnnnnnggg WHAT

    Just to tie in with the whole Movie / The Beginning vs. Backwards thing, they both end on incredibly similar notes. Not that the movie could really have ended like that, but still.

    THE DIFFERENCE – 2
    Interesting that being Kept Down makes everyone look up to Rimmer in this – am I right in thinking in the TV series the story was Ace fought against the ridicule of it? I think they’re both valid ways of developing his character, but I wonder what made Rob change it.

    I actually forgot about the trip there. I think that sums up Ace’s character so, so well, in a way that – sigh, again – Doug and Paul totally forgot about when making him a smug git in Stoke. I know, I know, it turned out to be a different Ace, but he was so unlikeable even before the ‘surprise’ reveal that it’s clear they’d largely forgotten his honourable side. It’s a really lovely way to end the book, although I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t have to wait something like seventeen months to get to this last bit from the Midlogue, guys.

    So, Backwards. It’s good, isn’t it? It’s definitely not as good as the first two, but, as has been said all along, it feels like a sequel to them. The style, the consistent narrative, the callbacks, the character stuff, the Holly bits, even the actual plot. It feels like the final part of a trilogy, to be honest. It’s generally very funny all the way through, with most of the TV stuff radically developed and largely existing as concepts rather than dialogue and exact plots. The only bit that fails is the first half of High Midnight, which is, as I mentioned above, a mixture of – admittedly very good – sci-fi drama and word-for-word TV excerpts, but even that moves into an enjoyably expanded version of Gunmen littered with strong Dwarf dialogue.

    Obviously Rob’s style sets the book apart from the two Grant Naylor novels. The cliffhanger style didn’t bother me, really, although a few of them did feel a bit like those disappointing Doctor Who cliffhangers that you know were only put in there because it was the end of an episode. Obviously the Torture Porn Sadistic Bastard What the Fuck Rob side of the book is occasionally a bit much, for me mostly in High Midnight, which definitely pushes things too far. Even if Rimmer had survived, there’s no way he wouldn’t have been driven fucking insane by the experience of his body melting and then existing as a pair of eyeballs while still conscious. And of course, there’s the scene where a teenage girl fucks a cat and all she gets is a mutilated vagina.

    Obviously we’re planning to do this whole book without any Last Human comparisons, but right at the end, I might have to break that a bit by saying it’s such a better book that the comparison alone almost justifies the “Rob was the good one” arguments that went around in the late ’90s (Last Human feeling like a template for some aspects of VII only adding to that). It’s got a relatively straight-forward plot, it’s got loads of memorable moments (for good reasons, and a few bad), it’s got lots of great new funny bits, it’s got lots and lots and lots of character stuff, especially for Rimmer, it’s got plenty of nerdy continuity stuff. Even if it’s not quite as balanced as possible – and the teenagers thing fizzling out after a couple of chapters into High Midnight is a great example – it’s still very close to what you’d want from a sequel to Better Than Life and makes Last Human feel, sadly, like fan fiction in comparison.

    Marvellous.

  • Is that the only time the theme is used diegetically in the show?

    Doorbell in Back to Earth.

    Overall thoughts? Backwards was much better than I remembered, and definitely feels like the “true” third novel.

    Not finished yet, but this is what I’ve been feeling all along too and I’m delighted about it. The grimness was shocking the first time around, but I’ve got over it now. I mean, the first book nuked 11,168 people.

    Would it even be clear at this point that Kryten is the sheriff?

    Woah woah, the sheriff is Kryten???

    Christopher Reeves in Superman, how he plays Clark Kent and Kal’El so blindingly differently they to the outside world they are entirely different people.

    WHAAAAAAT?

  • Doorbell in Back to Earth

    Gahh, I KNEW there was something else. Thanks.

    FIVE

    Cat being smart enough to threaten Lister is interesting – even if I’m not sure I quite buy it – and feels a little bit like his “psychopath” moment at the end of Cured.

    Yes I thought of that too. It works for me. Put it down to desperation and catty survival instinct.

    On the other hand Lister goading Djuhn as he’s asphyxiating is pretty badass and seems totally in character.

  • SEVEN to NINE

    – The disparity between the drawn-out western chapters and rapid-fire Starbug chapters is surely deliberate. It does have the effect of making these feel like they’re dragging though.

    – As adaptations go, I like the expansions, but the dialogue was a lot better on TV. I miss the subtle “sir” when Kryten’s eating the coffee. I can see why I largely forgot this part of the book, apart from the deaths.

    – The personifications of Kryten’s personality are like a mini Terrorform adaptation.

    – They were already in danger from asteroids, did we really need to add another convenient planet? Will that turn out to be the missing Earth again?

    – Gunmen’s real-time TV deadline is expanded to luxuriant novel time like a reverse White Hole, so there’s time for Rimmer to play around with insults. Let him have his fun, he’s about to fucking die.

    – The symmetry of the 4 Apocalypse Boys and 4 Red Dwarf Boys somehow never really occurred to me.

    – I also never noticed that the Riveria Kid’s trick shot is similar to Lister’s pool shot.

    – Highlighting Rimmer’s lack of bravery make the lack of any Ace references even more glaring than Skipper’s, but maybe we’re supposed to do that for ourselves.

  • I get the Cat dance being a way to extend it on paper, but it definitely feels like overkill to me. The quick guitar motif was absolutely perfect.

    Wasn’t there supposed to be a miraculously appearing guitar in the episode that he’d play? Dragged in on wires or something? Would have been silly.

  • The idea of High Midnight is quite fun, but there isn’t really any point to it, is there? It’s like, do a western parody but MaKe iT DaAaaRk!!!

    I don’t know, having the sunset as a ticking clock countdown definitely adds a bit of tension, I think. In the TV show everyone just kind of hangs around until something happens.

  • “You picked a rare old time to show up. We’re about to be…” fnnnnnggg WHAT

    About to be what? Attacked, is that what you were going to say? S-speak Kryten! How can we find out what’s happening…?

  • Is that the only time the theme is used diegetically in the show? (I felt sure there was at least one other example but I might be thinking of Tongue Tied being on in the disco in Parallel Universe.) If so, what is that tune in the Red Dwarf universe? Did Kryten dream it or hear it somewhere else first?

    The Skutters play it at Hammond Organ recital night so presumably Rimmer has a book of sheet music and the tune appears in there.

    You could then draw a line between Kryten having to hear the Skutters player that song a lot to it haunting his computer virus infested nightmares.

  • I’ve been thinking about the book more since finishing it again last night, and wondering why I didn’t remember it from the first time around quite as fondly as I should have done.

    I wonder if it’s because, “on paper” – on a plot level and thinking purely mechanically in terms of setups and payoffs – it’s actually quite disappointing in some ways. Deliberately, I think, but still. You get so many big developments that are built up and built up and then come to very little.

    So there’s the extended stay on Backwards world, which is a huge deal for the characters at the time, but the only lingering effect is that Cat and Lister are teenagers for the rest of the book (which is forgotten about half the time anyway).

    Then you have an entire section of the book devoted to building up Ace Rimmer and his world, and then when he arrives you get a relatively short section of him interacting with the crew and then he’s killed off unceremoniously by a secondary baddie.

    And then, maybe most conspicuously of all, you have the Agonoids – ultimate killer robots that take over Red Dwarf, ‘kill’ Holly, threaten to capture the crew and kill them or torture them to death – and they’re done away with in a few short chapters via a couple of quick action scenes so that the book can move on to Gunmen.

    Even Kryten and Rimmer’s deaths are undone almost as soon as they happen because Cat and Lister find alternate-universe replacements.

    But I guess my point is that, really, none of this matters. Because you’re having so much fun reading it – due to the humour, the dialogue, the quality of the writing in general – that it doesn’t really bother you that things are being set up and knocked down so quickly.

    And really, given Red Dwarf’s origins as a weekly sitcom, this kind of episodic quality – with everything reverting to a status quo almost as soon as the big threat is dealt with – is to be expected.

    I think it’s more satisfying and comforting as a reader to have Backwards end in the way it does, effectively with a big reset button, than (sorry) Last Human trying to put a big bow on everything but ending up with a crew and a situation that have basically been transformed beyond recognition.

    It’s like Doug says about the show and never wanting to do a “final” episode. Letting the characters revert to their status quo is better in a lot of ways than trying to make big changes or give them a conclusive ending.

  • ONE

    We seem to have a case of “Wandering Narrator Syndrome” here, as the prose has rather a lot of affectations to drum in the point that this is a western. I like the analogous stuff here with the naming of characters (Billy Belief, The Calculators) but I remember this making it even more obvious on first read about where this was going.

    TWO

    I think “JP” rivals Last Human’s “YD” in the “stupidest initialism ever” awards. It takes as much time to say the single-syllable words “Jet Pack” (and, indeed, Yak Dung) as it does to say their first letters.

    Elsewhere, Ace is dead! Yay.

    And with it comes my big problem with this novel. It’s framed around Arnold and Ace, with those lovely logues… and yet, it’s all a bit of a sham. This is *not* a novel about Ace and Arnold, or else there would be more than a couple of chapters afforded to exploring their relationship. (And this is before we get into a later death that occurs).

    It’s like Rob thought Dimension Jump would be a perfect choice for adapting (and I don’t dispute that) but chose to go all in on expanding the opening 3 minutes of the episode and forgot what the primary focus of the episode was. Maybe he suddenly realised that it would be reminiscent of the Me2 stuff in Infinity if Arnold and Ace spent too long in each other’s company?

    Anyway, to emphasis how Ace has spent such little time on Starbug, Cat refers to him as the “guy who looks like Goal-Post head”.

    Obviously Ace needs to get out of this novel, but I can’t help thinking that if we’d been in his head for this chapter (rather than D’junkeep’s and Lister’s), it might have worked a bit better. It would also make Part 2 of the novel seem a bit more worthwhile.

    As much as I detested Michael McGruder, there seemed a bit more of a point to his introduction and payoff in Last Human, than Ace here.

  • <

    So there’s the extended stay on Backwards world, which is a huge deal for the characters at the time, but the only lingering effect is that Cat and Lister are teenagers for the rest of the book (which is forgotten about half the time anyway).

    You do have to wonder why Rob chose to keep them stuck on Earth another 10-12 years. The whole “fucking up the take off/landing” thing is interesting in terms of how physics work on Backwards Earth but that could easily be explored and resolved in the first part.

    Is it to explore Lister and Cat getting younger? Maybe, but then as you point out once they’re back in their own universe it’s largely irrelevant.

    It creates a cliff hanger for the first part, but there’s other things they could have done that wouldn’t have such long lasting effects that aren’t necessary.

    Just seems a bit of an odd choice doesn’t it?

    I think this, along with some of your other points (as much as I love the book and I really do) makes it feels like a little more a random sequence of events rather than a firm and deliberate story. As fucking rocky as Last Human was, you could tell Doug had a goal and a through line in mind. The other books have lots going on, but it feels a little more natural. Connecting Kryten and Me2 in the way Infinity does for example. The start to end of Infinity feels like a a more rounded story (Lister gets drunk, ends up on Mimas, gets stuck 3m years in the future, ends up in a computer game) where as Backwards just throws the characters through random events (get stuck on Backward Earth, de-age, crash into Ace, get attacked by Aganoids and end up in Gunmen, 2 die and the survivors jump universes) … what’s the overall story there?

    But I guess my point is that, really, none of this matters. Because you’re having so much fun reading it – due to the humour, the dialogue, the quality of the writing in general – that it doesn’t really bother you that things are being set up and knocked down so quickly.

    And this is why it is ultimately better than Last Human, you ignore the weaker elements because it’s much stronger where it matters.

    It’s the same for classic dwarf. There’s some occasionally odd and weird things that happen that are silly and if happened in the Dave era people would jump on them, but because they’re surrounded by much stronger elements, and generally much better and greater TV, you happily let it pass.

    I think it’s more satisfying and comforting as a reader to have Backwards end in the way it does, effectively with a big reset button, than (sorry) Last Human trying to put a big bow on everything but ending up with a crew and a situation that have basically been transformed beyond recognition.

    it does seem odd that Doug would essentially shut an avenue of story telling down by bring it to a close. Regardless of how you feel about the ending of Backwards it certainly leaves you believing there could be a lot more to explore with these characters if Rob chose to. I’d happily read a book that picked up where it left off.

  • where as Backwards just throws the characters through random events (get stuck on Backward Earth, de-age, crash into Ace, get attacked by Aganoids and end up in Gunmen, 2 die and the survivors jump universes) … what’s the overall story there?

    I guess, being a bit generous, you could frame it as all being part of Lister’s desire to find “home”. Backwards Earth is sort of home but it isn’t, and Lister can’t stay there forever. Then he leaves Backwards Earth and thinks that’s the end of his troubles, but finds that Red Dwarf – his home from home – is gone. Then Ace shows him that there’s a world where Lister is ‘home’ in that Spanners is happy and at peace and has found his right place.

    And then…. erm… he gets attacked by robots and then goes into a Western.

    And then obviously the final chapter lampshades the idea that Red Dwarf is his home now.

    It’s loose and contains lots of diversions, and maybe that final chapter is doing a lot of work to retrospectively bring some kind of larger structure to things, but I think it just about gets away with it.

    But then that doesn’t reallly take into account that the framing sequences really paint it as more of a Rimmer novel than a Lister one.

  • TEN to TWELVE

    Sir, you are sick. You are a sick, sick person.

    I didn’t really enjoy reading any of that, though I would have found the extreme fantasy violence funny when I was 13. Does Rob think it’s hilarious, or is it just the Grant Naylor divorce novel taking out its frustration on all our beloved characters at the end?

    THIRTEEN & FOURTEEN

    I enjoyed these more. Back to familiar space action in a kind of reverse Out of Time situation where Kryten and Rimmer bought it first and the others manage to survive this time. Then the others are promptly back for the closest approximation to a happy ending since Better Than Life’s. The ending is heavy-handed, but we need a bit of heart-warming sentimentality after that shit.

    EPILOGUE

    A bit out of place by this point, but I enjoyed the beneficent spirit of Ace carrying on.

    _____

    Yeah, Backwards turned out to be great and the essential finale to the trilogy, if occasionally idiosyncratic to a fault without a co-writer reigning it in (presumably).

    Since I skipped Last Human, I was mainly judging it as the direct follow-up to Better Than Life, and feel there’s less of a step down from that book than there was from the first to the second.

    Does anyone else with the hardback edition think it’s one of the nicest feeling books to hold ever?

  • Speaking of which, who’s forgotten all about Lister and Cat being teenagers by this point?

    Oh yeah! I was doing well until those final chapters. Bizarre that there’s no mention from Rimmer and Kryten at the end, but that would have just made me laugh and taken me out of it.

    Kryten/Carton doesn’t mention it when he’s taking in their appearances, does he? Rob totally forgot.

  • It would be so much better if they’d be re-aged through deep sleep somehow between Back to Backworld and Nipple Sized Pastry Cutters.

    Anyway, I’ve now concluded my structure of what could be a very good Red Dwarf comedy-drama reboot based entirely on the novels. Eight episodes a series, with Last Human undergoing a reasonable amount of script-editing to make it servicable.

    Season One (Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers)
    EP1: Saunders & McIntyre; all the Mimas stuff; ends with Lister arriving on board
    EP2: Z Shift; Lister’s social life and the Kochanski story; ends on their breakup
    EP3: Rimmer’s exam; Lister and Frankenstein; ends on the crew being wiped out
    EP4: Lister loses it; Rimmer returns; the Cat city is discovered
    EP5: Future Echoes
    EP6: Kryten; ends on the two Rimmers reveal
    EP7: Me²; mining
    EP8: Better Than Life

    Season Two (Better Than Life)
    EP1: Things running ‘as normal’ in BTL; Holly and Talkie; ends on the lorry crash
    EP2: Escape from BTL
    EP3: Lister and Cat’s recovery; starting the engines; discovering the planet
    EP4: Playing pool with planets
    EP5: Marooned
    EP6: Black hole stuff; young Lister on Garbage World
    EP7: Old Lister on Garbage World
    EP8: Polymorph; Backwards world

    Season Three (Backwards)
    EP1: Escape from Niagara Falls
    EP2: Arrival in mountains and attempted escape from Backwards Earth
    EP3: Ace Rimmer
    EP4: Back to Backworld
    EP5: Lister and Cat being re-aged 10 years in deep-sleep; Recovering Holly; meeting Ace; Agonoids backstory
    EP6: Repairing Starbug; Ace’s death; Djuhn’Keep’s attack
    EP7: High Midnight through to Lister being crushed
    EP8: High Midnight climax and ending (including revelation that Kochanski is in alternate universe)

    Season Four (Last Human)
    EP1: Cyberia; discovering the alternate Starbug
    EP2: GELF moons
    EP3: Kinitowawi
    EP4: Escape from Cyberia
    EP5: McGruder; Lister in Cyberia; discovery of Mayflower
    EP6: Lister & Reketrebin; Quarantine viruses & DNA machine
    EP7: Lister & Reketrebin on the planet; DNA
    EP8: Final battle with Evil Lister and The Rage

  • The Skutters play it at Hammond Organ recital night so presumably Rimmer has a book of sheet music and the tune appears in there.
    You could then draw a line between Kryten having to hear the Skutters player that song a lot to it haunting his computer virus infested nightmares.

    Very good.

    SIX

    “Djuhn snickered. ‘As in “hold on to hope”, you mean? I thought we’d established the futility of that concept.'”
    It’s a bit of a cliché but I do like the way Djuhn’Keep talks. He’s a proper gleefully evil, articulate baddie. With a Yorkshire accent, of course. And I wonder whether that line is deliberately alluding to Kryten’s struggle against the virus in his dream.

    It is quite remarkable how fast all the Agonoid stuff is swept aside to move on to Gunmen, though.

    It’s kind of ironic that the transitions between adapted stuff from different episodes have been so smooth, but here we get basically the same thing that happens in Gunmen with the simulants and the virus, and yet it feels like the gears are crunching. Perhaps tellingly, chapter 6 is the one that’s very significantly different in the audiobook, in order to miss out Gunmen.

  • Does anyone else with the hardback edition think it’s one of the nicest feeling books to hold ever?

    It’s nice, yeah.

  • Perhaps tellingly, chapter 6 is the one that’s very significantly different in the audiobook, in order to miss out Gunmen.

    I was wondering how the audiobook skips Gunmen. Does it just have the Agonoids kill Kryten and Rimmer outright, and then put the virus into Starbug with no way to overcome it, so Lister and Cat have to escape to the Wildfire?

  • Kryten fires the bazookoid at Starbug’s hull but fails to grab Rimmer’s light bee in time, so he gets blown out of the hole. Then when the gantry collapses it crushes Kryten beyond repair. Dunno yet what happens after that.

  • THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX

    Four short chapters which are heavy of plot and low on character or humour. It’s like we’re suddenly desperately racing towards the end of the novel.

    We repeatedly made the claim that Last Human felt like a first draft. This is where Backwards starts to feel the same for me.

    By this point, the incessant lurching towards one disaster after another at the end of each chapter is getting tiresome, and the lead up to Gunmen would have been a lot “tidier” and less repetitive with one Agonoid and Ace dying on the ship (and perhaps Arnold being brave and actually paying off that whole Pro/Mid/Endlogue thing)

    While Djun’keep killing all the Agonoids and exiting Red Dwarf seems to set up that the mothership is now a “safe place”, that’s pretty redundant in the grand scheme of things. He could have stayed put as a further potential threat and the Virus uploading performed by Pizza, with no detriment or radical change to the story.

  • While Djun’keep killing all the Agonoids and exiting Red Dwarf seems to set up that the mothership is now a “safe place”, that’s pretty redundant in the grand scheme of things. He could have stayed put as a further potential threat and the Virus uploading performed by Pizza, with no detriment or radical change to the story.

    I think it would have been very detrimental in that he would then be a massive loose end, and that whole element of the story would be unresolved – a villain who doesn’t face any consequences and ultimately never gets to interact with the crew.

    Unless you’re talking about adding further completely new developments with him that address all that and see the crew actually make it back to Red Dwarf, but then that obviously becomes quite a different story altogether.

  • I can’t think of another character that prominent that doesn’t get any resolution at all. Most of the plots are wrapped up, even if it is fairly swiftly.

    I’d much rather have both Agonoids dealt with by the crew than just leave one pottering around on Red Dwarf.

  • Wouldn’t it be brilliant if there were a chapter with Talkie just foiling the Aganoids plan and taking him out.

  • The novel ends with Lister and Cat about to meet a new Rimmer and Kryten and face an undisclosed set of circumstances (possibly Agonoids, again).

    In terms of what happens next, that’s far more of a cliffhanger than leaving behind an Agonoid (who we *assume* is the only one left alive) in a dimension they can never return to.

    If Rob was so inclined, he could bring back the character for another novel. Alternatively, he could drop it a like a stone like they did with the Duality Drive in BTL.

    Either way, it’s not like he’s been inclined to reveal what the new Kryten and Rimmer were talking about in the last 25 years.

  • The end of the book vague cliffhanger is a completely different thing to not paying off a full plot strand that you’ve spent many chapters setting up and fleshing out, though.

    “We’re about to be…” is obviously just a tease of future adventures with a wink at the audience by Rob that suggest “I haven’t made up what will be in the next book yet, but it’ll be something exciting”.

    It wouldn’t be half as much fun an ending if he just spelled it out and had Rimmer say something like “we’re about to be drawn into a detailed discussion of whether Taiwan Tony’s accent is racist.”

  • If there are no further sequels, the future echoes of Lister having children, grandchildren and possibly more generations (even a whole civilisation like the cats) on Red Dwarf – wherever they come from – ties in very nicely with his acceptance of the ship as home at the end of Backwards, after finding no rest on real, warped and virtual Earths.

    The only catch is that the future echoes took place in a universe they’ve now left (or different dimensions within the same universe or whatever we decided was going on), and you can’t go back, but I don’t know how strange space phenomena work.

  • >The end of the book vague cliffhanger is a completely different thing to not paying off a full plot strand that you’ve spent many chapters setting up and fleshing out, though.

    I’ve given you examples where Rob and Doug have done exactly this. They’ve had no problem with setting up stuff in one book, not tidying it up and then either addressing it in the following book or discarding it completely. Since when were these guys the continuity police?

    Your aversion to a suggestion seems to come from a knowledge that there’s been never been a follow-up to this book, something we did not know in 1996.

    Holly is at death’s door when BTL ends. Dangling threads ahoy!

    Beyond a couple of mentions, we never see him or find out what happens to him in the “next” novel. This isn’t a reason for Last Human’s failings, but it does mean that the *continuity* to his character in Backwards is more pleasing for readers who have been keeping track.

  • An end-of-book cliffhanger or the lack of continuity from one book to another is not the same thing as a boook paying off its own earlier setups, though.

    You’re suggesting it would be better to build up the main Agonoid villain for an entire section of the book and then leave his fate completely unresolved and not have him even meet the crew.

    I’m suggesting it would be better not to do that, and that it’s much more satisfying to give him some resolution.

    I do agree though that two Agonoids is maybe unnecessary. So you could have maybe had Pizzak kill Djun shortly before being thrown out of Red Dwarf, and that way have had the one villain taken out by his own kind and left us with just one Agonoid for the crew to fight. That way Ace’s sacrifice might have been more meaningful too.

  • You’re suggesting it would be better to build up the main Agonoid villain for an entire section of the book and then leave his fate completely unresolved and not have him even meet the crew.

    Tranter is introduced in this book. We get a brief summary of his ”future” when we see him for the last time. The novel does take the opportunity to tie up things, even they’re outside of the timeframe of the novel.

    Irrespective of this, if we’re editing a few chapters in Part 4, there’s nothing to stop a slight tweak to make Pizza the “main guy” in Part 3. He has just as much “screen time” as Djun.

    Alternatively, just drop the whole plot point of Pizza floating onto Starbug and have Djun just go to them alone. This section is just a bit repetitive, with the baddies being practically interchangeable and one immediately replacing the other when Ace has just sacrificed himself, assuming he’s seen off the threat..

  • Yeah, I do definitely think the double-Agonoid threat is a bit repetitive, and each takes away from the significance of the other. The first is seen off too quickly and easily to feel like a major threat, but it also means that when the second turns up it feels like “oh, it’s the other one” rather than a big dramatic moment.

    Maybe a fairly brutal edit could have had Djun somehow killed by Pizzak just before he gets ejected from Red Dwarf, with Pizzak infected by the Armageddon virus – and so hell-bent on killing Lister before he succumbs to it, so giving that element of the plot greater urgency than just the threat of decades of torture.

    Then Ace handles Pizzak and gets rid of him (dying in the process, just like in the book), but not before he’s able to transmit the virus to Starbug (again, similar to the book) and you go into Gunmen.

  • As for Tranter, maybe we read it differently but I feel like his vignette is fairly self-contained and his story fully told in that section. I never got the sense that he was a loose end that I expected to come back to.

  • I was just using an example of something that Rob did in the novel, where the omniscient narrator gives a quick info dump about what’s in a character’s future, rather than showing us first hand.

    We’re told that Tranter’s wife, despite his fears, will not divorce him. We could just as easily be told that Djunkeep is going to spend the rest of his runtime, getting Droidrot and going space-crazy.

  • SEVEN

    It‘s a shame that the longest chapter of the book, is also the only one that feels like a glorified transcription of an episode.

    “He’s really beginning to get on my B-Cups” doesn’t sound like a particularly Rimmery line.

    This chapter is written from the perspective of “Carton”, but it veers off at one point when Carton attempts to escape town and the narrator starts describing stuff which Carton is not privy to.

    And yet the characters are still described as The Gambler, Ten Gallon etc. The illusion itself seems to extend to the narration of this part of the book. I know Rob’s description of the novel includes “Western”, but I feel that’s just as much as a description of the way he chose to write a couple of the chapters, and less to do with the fact that they happen to be set in a cowboy dream. I guess he’s enjoying himself here, but I find some of the dagnamit prose a bit tedious.

    The slow reveal that this is really Kryten’s dream is very much like the reveal of Trixie’s identifty in BTL, but not nearly as effective. As soon as Lister reveals his name, the charade is essentially over and we may as well zip back to Starbug so the rest of the novel can catch up . The chapter, however, continues for quite a bit longer and, like Carton, continues with the “Western-speak” and to feign ignorance. As soon as Lister has revealed himself, I’d rather we’d got the “normal” Narrator back.

  • I was just using an example of something that Rob did in the novel, where the omniscient narrator gives a quick info dump about what’s in a character’s future, rather than showing us first hand.

    We’re told that Tranter’s wife, despite his fears, will not divorce him. We could just as easily be told that Djunkeep is going to spend the rest of his runtime, getting Droidrot and going space-crazy.

    Ah ok, got you. Yeah, a potted summary of some kind of tragic future of him wasting away his days alone on Red Dwarf could work I suppose. It would make for a fun parallel to Lister in some ways.

  • Now I’m imagining a version where, not knowing about what happened with Pizzak or that Lister has jumped to another dimension, Djuhn eventually goes looking for the crew when they fail to turn up on Red Dwarf. He comes across a Polymorph somewhere who takes Lister’s form, thinks he’s finally got him, etc.

  • Now I’m imagining a version where, not knowing about what happened with Pizzak or that Lister has jumped to another dimension, Djuhn eventually goes looking for the crew when they fail to turn up on Red Dwarf. He comes across a Polymorph somewhere who takes Lister’s form, thinks he’s finally got him, etc.

    Big Finish are taking notes.

  • I find the detailed descriptions of the crew getting gruesomely injured, maimed, and killed in Existence to be deeply unpleasant.

    When Lister takes the gash to his leg, is that the only time the word “shit” is used in Red Dwarf?

  • is that the only time the word “shit” is used in Red Dwarf?

    Does mouse shit roll?

    Also, more recently we had “apeshit mode” and shite, all in the same episode.

  • Wait, where did Rimmer get a plaster cast that covers his neck, shoulder, and arm? Especially if Pestilence Apocalypse is currently acting as the town’s doctor??

  • Ah, having caught up on the comments some of my small points were already covered by Debris (nice summary of a hypothetical book-based reboot, by the way), but here’s two more that haven’t been brought up:

    -The crew being mutilated but unable to die brings to mind Torchwood’s Miracle Day, which is the second time a Torchwood story seems to have borrowed heavily from these novels (the other being Orr from the audios being similar to Reketrebn).

    -When the Cat and Lister are trying to stop Starbug from hitting the planet, could they not have solved the problem with a minute course correction rather than ten minutes of reverse retros that expend all their fuel?

  • EIGHT

    One would hope that we’d get slightly more of an explanation of Kryten’s sudden plan, but it’s transposed as per the episode. In a very quick chapter. Kryten announces an ability to create the dove program (I think I’ll call it a “vaccine”)

    I feel if this were earlier in the book there might be more of an explanation of this, but it’s handwaved away with a “you’ve seen Gunmen, right?”.

    NINE

    At least the normal narrator is back for the Western bits. I was bored of that other guy.

    Shades of Terrorform with Cecil CPU getting a funeral. And if we’re looking for Chris Barrie references, then my mind wandered to Brittas knocking on his coffin lid, when Cecil does the same.

    “Rimmer’s brain was screaming. This was an electronic reality. They shouldn’t be able to feel pain”

    Bearing in mind that the novel Rimmer hasn’t felt pain since he died (save for maybe a couple of moments in BTL?) surely the fact that this is an electronic reality is irrelevant, and the fact that he is an electronic light form should be why hems surprised.

    TEN

    I think you can use John Wayne as a verb or Lee Van Cleef as a verb. You can’t have both in consecutive chapters.

    Wow, this is getting pretty grim. I hope this plan of Kryten’s was worth it…

  • ELEVEN, TWELVE

    I pretty much hate these chapters, so let’s just skip ahead.

    THIRTEEN

    “After three years that lasted for ten minutes”

    i’ve shamelessly used variations of this phrase several times over the last 25 years, and forgotten where I stole it from. It’s here.

    So, just to recap. Before Kryten hooked himself up to the computers and created a Western dreamscape;

    * They were all alive
    * Starbug was uncontrollable
    * They were running out of fuel, oxygen, time

    And since they exited the dreamscape;

    * Two of them are dead.
    * Starbug is uncontrollable
    * They are running out of fuel, oxygen, time

    So Kryten’s plan/sacrifice has put them in a worst situation than they were previously and the last few horrible chapters have been a tad unnecessary, aside from satisfying the sadistic author’s bloodlust.

    Lister and the Cat could have got into the Wildfire, taking Rimmer’s light bee and Kryten’s head, rather than entered into the AR simulation. They could fly back to their Red Dwarf, and sorted out Kryten with a new body.

    I realise that this wouldn’t be paying off the fact that Wildfire has dimension jumping capabilities, but it just rankles me how fundamentally pointless all the Gunmen stuff is.

  • FOURTEEN

    On the face of this, this seems like a happy ending, but I just don’t buy it.

    The manner of Rimmer death two chapters previously was horrific, and the attitude from Lister (and indeed the novel) is that “hey, don’t worry about that guy; we’ve got another Rimmer”.

    Sitcom ending reset to the status quo. It’s Snowball II, and let’s never speak of it again.

    I appreciate the Infinity continuity nods. However, with this BTE-style “soft reboot”, the novel universe is effectively clearing away any potential continuity from *this* novel, and allowing Rob to start wherever he wants next time around.

    So… yay continuity, and cue the inevitable “Which Rimmer is this?” questions , if Rob ever decides to write a follow-up.

    There’s also the nagging question of why the Wildfire has jumped Lister and Cat to a point in the universe where neither of them have existed for “some time”. I could just about buy the fact that it jumped Ace to a dimension where he’d been hologram for several decades, but this is a bit too convenient. Um, magic?.

    As a happy ending, this doesn’t feel “earned” and doesn’t ring true. After multiple chapters of increasingly desperate circumstances and the deaths of three characters, we’ve effectively hit the reset button, and nothing really seems to matter. Still, here’s a joke about Gazpacho Soup. IT’S COLD OUTSIDE…

    I’m sorry, but compared to the endings of Infinity and Better Than Life, it sucks.

    EPILOGUE

    And then there’s this.

    I’ll say again; I LOVE the writing of each of the logues. It’s also very clever how, essentially the same thing happens as in the Midlogue, but it means something completely different.

    But what in the name of fuck is this doing at the end of this novel?

    “Losing isn’t nothing”

    Is that the theme of this novel; that Rimmer’s dad was mistaken? That’s what we’re ending with?

    This chapter should be in Part 2. Were it not for the fact that it’s effectively the same thing as the Billy-Joe stuff, it would at least make sense there. As it is, its placement seems to suggest that Ace was the protagonist of this book.

    One of my complaints with this novel is that we spent very little time inside Ace’s head, especially in Part 2 where he was supposed to be the focus. Instead we mainly see Ace through the eyes of others, and only briefly know that he secretly has insecurities.

    This epilogue is the longest we spend in his head, but at this point he’s been dead for about 12 chapters, and the guy we’re contrasting him with has also been killed off.

    It’s such a weird note to end on. This is the ending to a novel where Ace and Rimmer spent more than a couple of chapters in each other’s company, learn a bit about themselves and then go their separate ways acknowledging their differences.

    The epilogue is the book is microcosm for me; The prose is lovely, the structure of the novel is just plain weird.

  • So, just to recap. Before Kryten hooked himself up to the computers and created a Western dreamscape;

    * They were all alive
    * Starbug was uncontrollable
    * They were running out of fuel, oxygen, time

    And since they exited the dreamscape;

    * Two of them are dead.
    * Starbug is uncontrollable
    * They are running out of fuel, oxygen, time

    Starbug is controllable after Kryten neutralises the virus. And if they hadn’t done anything all four of them would have been dead. I don’t think they could have climbed the tether to the Wildfire with Starbug moving at its previous speed – I think that’s the point of Rob explaining that section of Cat and Lister’s escape in such depth.

  • Starbug is controllable, in so much as they can have access to the navicomp. It’s not controllable in as much as they can can actually go where the want to go, or have enough fuel to go anywhere.

    The reason that Starbug is going so fast, is because it’s been accelerating for “several hours”. The planet they were heading for was 17 hours away when they entered AR and 15 minutes away when they exit AR.

    So they’ve spent almost 17 hours in AR allowing Starbug to get that fast. And it will take about 13 minutes to come to a stop.

    Even if we’re suggesting that Kryten’s plan ultimately works because it benefits Lister and Cat, Rimmer enters the AR and dies for nothing.

  • Couldn’t they have just don’t a little space walk and give Starbug a nudge with their own booster packs? With no friction or weight, just a bit of force would re-direct the course no?

  • a Torchwood story seems to have borrowed heavily from these novels

    The 2005 novel ‘Death with Interruptions’ did a Miracle Day situation with no one dying for a bit. The Red Dwarf one just makes me think of stuff like Beetlejuice where ghosts can sever and reattach heads and stuff because it’s not their real bodies.

    Bearing in mind that the novel Rimmer hasn’t felt pain since he died (save for maybe a couple of moments in BTL?)

    The first novel opened with a hologram whacking himself in the balls. Maybe this was retconned with Rimmer at some point though.

    i’ve shamelessly used variations of this phrase several times over the last 25 years, and forgotten where I stole it from. It’s here.

    For me it was describing anything as “the not-very-long-awaited sequel,” like the Better Than Life blurb. I’ll stop it now.

  • The first novel opened with a hologram whacking himself in the balls. Maybe this was retconned with Rimmer at some point though

    Well. Rimmer’s *capable* of feeling pain (he thinks he’s experiencing pain so he possibly is…), but realistically everything up to this point would have been self-inflicted (even in Better Than Life).

    Incidentally, Lister’s earlier arguments for why the AR machine is “fine” whereas BTL is a no-no, are invalidated by the fact that Kryten and Rimmer don’t make it out alive. (I know, virus… but still).

  • “Where’s your Lister and Cat?”
    “They died in a computer game. Where’s your Kryten and Rimmer?”
    “They died in a computer game”

    Well, at least they’ve got that in common.

  • “Where’s your Lister and Cat?”

    “They died in a computer game. Where’s your Kryten and Rimmer?”
    “They died in a computer game”
    Well, at least they’ve got that in common.

    “And I said well that’s, the one thing we’ve got.”

  • “The first set of spurs split his pants and shirt wide open, the second carved a deep, neat dotted line up his body, from groin to forehead.”

    Oh, it’s started. I knew it would. Already I’m thinking give it a rest now eh, Rob?

    THE GUNMEN CHAPTERS
    I’m in two minds about all the Gunmen stuff. It’s very nicely written and I really like a few of the fleshed out parts, but it drags on. The episode is such a fun spectacle with visual jokes, the cast in daft costumes etc., and I don’t think a lot of the best moments lend themselves to being adapted for a novel. They mostly fall a little flat here, like the Cat and Lister using their special skills, for example. This also feels kind of tacked on, which is borne out by its wholesale omission from the audiobook with only a slight rejigging of the story required to make that work. In some ways it feels like this book’s answer to the Polymorph section in BTL.

    I wonder whether the dream characters representing aspects of Kryten’s personality was an idea Rob and Doug came up with for Gunmen but couldn’t quite get to work. There’s Kryten’s line about “throwing in my mule, Dignity” but that’s all.

    TEN
    I think you can use John Wayne as a verb or Lee Van Cleef as a verb. You can’t have both in consecutive chapters.

    At least there’s no Eli Wallaching. (Wallaching damn and jumbo buggers?)

  • There’s Kryten’s line about “throwing in my mule, Dignity” but that’s all.

    Interesting – I never interpreted that line in that way. I always thought he was getting rid of his mule for the sake of his own dignity, because it was such an embarrassing steed for a Sheriff.

  • I wonder whether the dream characters representing aspects of Kryten’s personality was an idea Rob and Doug came up with for Gunmen but couldn’t quite get to work. There’s Kryten’s line about “throwing in my mule, Dignity” but that’s all.

    I’ve just read chapter one and I’d forgotten about this. It definitely feels like something Rob has done to flesh the book out a little more. Perhaps drawing inspiration from Terrorform.

    I’m trying to figure out whether Will Carton is meant to be a pun or play or words or something, other than Carton being close to Kryten I can’t figure the Will part out. Other than perhaps so that he shares a name with Bill Belief, who I read to his young innocence perhaps?

  • I know I’m a bit late to this party but I wanted to pick up on this

    <

    For a book so set on exploring the Rimmer / Ace dynamic, he isn’t half killed off in a rush. I’ve only ever really had two issues with this book, and I had both of them when I first read it as a kid. One is Lister and Cat being youthed, and the other is Ace just being killed off in a fairly off-hand manner. A couple of smiles aside, it’s not even a funny chapter, just… the death of Ace. And, of course, the removal of Piece of Crap. And Junk Heap leaving to find them. But mostly it’s The Chapter Where Ace Dies. He’s only in the book for about three chapters! Yeah. Still don’t think it works.

    Holy fuck this is annoying. The book spends soooo much time setting Ace up, and then they dispense with him as soon as he has saved the day – a problem he himself created so, remove him from the book and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. Pizzak only survives the ejection into space and reaches Starbug as a device to kill Ace off too it seems. It’s just thats all superfluous to the story.

    We really needed more time with Rimmer and Ace together, outside of any peril I think, to have made all the earlier stuff worth while. Really explore what its like having these two having to interact and live together for a short period. Sort of like a Me2 sequel but just for a chapter or two. I really enjoyed learning about Ace in those early chapters, to dispense with him so crudely and not really use him is maddening.

  • FIVE

    Another short, but exciting, chapter. Cat being smart enough to threaten Lister is interesting – even if I’m not sure I quite buy it – and feels a little bit like his “psychopath” moment at the end of Cured.

    I do buy it. We’re shown time and again that Cat is pretty smart when he wants to be, he just plays dumb a lot of the time. I’d want to check back and see if Cat was aware the Aganoid’s were primarily after Lister, though I presume that’s the case.

    And yeah very much reminiscent of Cured. It’s a bit of a shame the oxygen fails immediately and we don’t get a bit of a longer exchange between Cat and Djuhn.

  • I’m trying to figure out whether Will Carton is meant to be a pun or play or words or something, other than Carton being close to Kryten I can’t figure the Will part out. Other than perhaps so that he shares a name with Bill Belief, who I read to his young innocence perhaps?

    Yeah, I mentioned this upthread but Carton stands out as a name without any obvious alternate meaning.

    I guess in considering the hypothetical “reader who hasn’t seen Gunmen” it’s a subtle clue as to the identity of the sheriff, but it feels out of place among all the other pointedly meaningful surnames.

  • I’m trying to figure out whether Will Carton is meant to be a pun or play or words or something, other than Carton being close to Kryten I can’t figure the Will part out. Other than perhaps so that he shares a name with Bill Belief, who I read to his young innocence perhaps?

    Yeah, I mentioned this upthread but Carton stands out as a name without any obvious alternate meaning.
    I guess in considering the hypothetical “reader who hasn’t seen Gunmen” it’s a subtle clue as to the identity of the sheriff, but it feels out of place among all the other pointedly meaningful surnames.

    Yeah right. Everyone else is very clear a representation of something, and then “Sheriff Will Carton” just stumbling around with no meaning attached to him whatsoever.

  • There’s Kryten’s line about “throwing in my mule, Dignity” but that’s all.

    Interesting – I never interpreted that line in that way. I always thought he was getting rid of his mule for the sake of his own dignity, because it was such an embarrassing steed for a Sheriff.

    I just thought it was the sort of name you give a horse. I think the only other symbols in the episode all relate to the Armageddon virus and Kryten’s resistance – Apocalypse Boys, Last Chance Saloon, doves, for some reason that one bar patron called Nuke.

  • Dove … doves defeat the apocolypse! The Apocalypse Boys. It’s a blatant clue isn’t it!

  • I think most of my problems with Backwards are with this chunk of the book. I’m not overly keen on Part 2, but if the Ace stuff here had been handled better, it wouldn’t seem like such a big ol’ waste of time.

    Also, while the strength of the writing in the Midlogue and Epilogue would make me inclined to simply relocate them, I’d suspect most strict editors bossing a first time author would say “drop em”.

  • I’d suspect most strict editors bossing a first time author would say “drop em”.

    Thankfully I think a lot of that kind of behaviour has now been eradicated from the publishing industry.

  • I agree with Pete that this back part, so far, is where things start to fall a part a little. A bit of slack where it was quite tight before.

    I wonder whether it’s a case of not having planned out exactly what was happening and finding himself in a situation where he needed to hurriedly wrap things up, or he knew what he wanted to do, but some outside force caused things to lose their way a little.

    As up to know it really feels like their was a good vision of where everything was headed, but the fact all the Aganoid stuff and the reshaping of Red Dwarf is basically dropped and results in two Aganoids (one unnecessarily) just floating through space to Starbug, sort of feels like something in Rob’s plan changed and he hurriedly did away with Ace and jumped straight into Gunmen, leaving a chunk of his story out.

    Or he just shit at planning.

  • I think once you’ve got a bit of a clout (as Rob presumably had) they leave you alone, but I suspect it still happens.

    I’m not even sure it’s a bad thing. If an editor said to Rob “these are unnecessary as we already know how these two characters differ, and the placement of the Epilogue after they’ve both died is strange”, that would hopefully instigate a conversation about how the novel could be adjusted.

    If it was Rob’s intention that the Ace/Arnold thing is a “theme” or “through line” of this novel, then that’s not coming across in how this is wrapped up in the main body of it.

  • I wonder whether it’s a case of not having planned out exactly what was happening and finding himself in a situation where he needed to hurriedly wrap things up, or he knew what he wanted to do, but some outside force caused things to lose their way a little.

    Rob seems to get off on the shock value and getting our hopes up only to deflate them, so Ace was probably always destined for an anticlimactic death after arriving in the nick of time to fail to save them.

    Like having them miss their flight window on Backworld and emerging as teenagers (didn’t expect that, did you?) and then killing off two main characters and getting away with it (psyche!). It goes as far back as the Nova 5 celebration stumbling into addictive video game horror.

    The shocking parts proved the most memorable to me in the long run (of Backwards and Last Human), so it works in that way, but also leaves a bad taste.

  • Yeah, it’s kind of like I mentioned before, there are loads of buildups with (deliberately?) disappointing payoffs in this book – which means that when you analyse its plot on paper you can make it sound bloody awful, almost Last Human-level incoherent.

    But that ignores all of the ‘how’ of Rob’s writing, which I think is where the real strength of this novel lies. The journey to get to all of these disappointing places is actually really enjoyable because of Rob’s great ear for comedy and his lovely, easy writing style.

    It’s like booking a limousine full of all your best mates and a crate of champagne, and driving to Rhyl. Yeah, you end up in Rhyl, but you had a great time getting there.

  • Rob seems to get off on the shock value and getting our hopes up only to deflate them, so Ace was probably always destined for an anticlimactic death after arriving in the nick of time to fail to save them.

    I don’t think Ace can really “leave” the universe of the novel once he’s there, so I agree he’s destined to die. The problem is that it just reads like he’s only *really* there, from a storytelling perspective, to get the Wildfire into the universe so that we can hit the reset button when we reach the point of no return.

    To me, the early stuff seems like the novel is heading for a situation where Arnie and Ace have to team up to rescue the others. Ace would die in the process, inspiring Arnie to heroically finish the job. You know, like with Billy Joe.

    I realise this is a bit trite and reminiscent of Stoke (and Rimmer saving the day was already starting to get old by 1996) but it would at least be saying something about the differences and similarities between the two Rimmers. More so than them both losing a race for different reasons.

  • Agree 100%.

    It’s quite frustrating really looking back, that you could lose all the Ace parts of the hook and just have him enter the story at the point he crashes into Starbug and you’d lose nothing in terms of the story.

    (You’d lose some really interesting chapters but no story)

    A short bit of exposition from Ace at some point post arrival and that’s all you’d need.

  • Yeah, as I said way upthread, a Dwarfers & Ace vs. the Agonoids on a restructured Red Dwarf could have been a wonderful final section. Maybe Kryten would get mangled by an Agonoid, and Ace and Rimmer could put their differences aside and team up to self-destruct the ship with the remaining Agonoids while Lister and Cat escape in Wildfire, leading to the same ending.

  • With Lister getting captured for a while so we get detailed descriptions of those torture instruments Rob failed to deliver on, the cock-scraping tease.

  • At least there’s no Eli Wallaching. (Wallaching damn and jumbo buggers?)

    I always thought that that was “Bollocking damn and jumbo buggers”. Ho hum.

    Alright people, as you were.

  • Chapter One

    I can understand Rob wanting to include one of the show’s most celebrated episodes, but this section still feels a shame to me. We have waited all book for the crew to return to their own universe, only to almost immediately enter Kryten’s dreams.

    “Tumbleweed cliched” feels very reminiscent of an earlier book…

  • Chapter Two

    This whole chapter isn’t the most uplifting of reads.

    It has felt like Rob has very mixed feelings about Ace throughout this book, so his demise is not such a surprise.

  • Chapters Three, Four and Five

    The misery continues, but I quite like the menacing feel.

    Due to Lister and the Cat being teenagers, we have unusual dynamic of Rimmer being the mature adult.

    Threatening Lister’s life is a smart way of prolonging the plot.

  • Chapter Six

    A good action scene and I’m sure Robert would have made the most of the line, “I’m absolutely dandy, sir.”

  • Chapter Seven

    Gunmen of the Apocalypse is a classic episode, but it doesn’t work half as well in print. Seeing Danny dance as the Riviera Kid or Robert getting hit on the head as leaves town are great bits of visual comedy, but visual comedy wasn’t designed for the printed page.

    Also, the chapter is far too long, especially in comparison with the rest of the book.

  • Chapter Eight

    A clumsy simile joke to kick things off, “we’re deader than dungarees with patterned triangles sewn down the side to make ’em look like flares.”

    The changing of the timelines may have been to prevent this section from being a complete Gunman clone, but it doesn’t really work for me.

  • Chapter Nine

    “Frisbee nostrils” is a fun insult and could have been used in the show.

    A very long chapter again and one with a distinctly violent edge – “There was a thump and a sickening snap of bones.” Rob seems to live for this kind of sadism.”

  • Chapter 10

    “It could have saved him a lot of pain. A lot of pain.” Here we see Rob combining two of his obsessions: foreshadowing and sickening violence.

    This chapter feels like how Gunmen of the Apocalypse could have been if Andy De Emmony had been unavailable, and Oliver Stone had directed instead.

    “He Lee Van Cleefed into the sheriff’s office.” A nice turn of phrase.

    “His right forefinger was missing.” A sadistic turn of phrase.

  • Is there any chance you fine gents could crank up the volume a bit on future DwarfCasts? Maybe it’s just the outside world being a bit busier than it was last year, but as I walk through town I’m finding it really hard to hear anything.

    Or maybe it’s just a PodBean issue and I should go back to downloading them directly onto my phone…

  • In chapter 9, Cat being the responsible one whilst Rimmer is spoiling for a fight feels quite weird.

    But it does give us a line from Red Dwarf that sounds like it’s from something else …

    “We’re not looking for Trouble. But if Trouble comes, it’s going to regret the day Mr and Mrs Trouble decided to have it off”

    That could be straight from the mouth of Blackadder couldn’t it

  • Now bring us some smeggy pudding
    Now bring us some smeggy pudding
    Now bring us some smeggy pudding
    Now bring some out here.

  • I wonder whether Carton is named after Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities. There are some similarities. I’ve asked Rob on twitter but he hasn’t replied.

    THIRTEEN and FOURTEEN

    Killing off Rimmer and Kryten only to blithely replace them straight away with alternate dimension counterparts doesn’t sit right with me at all. It’s far from being the only example of an oddly blasé attitude to death in Red Dwarf, but it’s maybe the most disagreeable. Lister thinking of Red Dwarf as home is quite a nice moment, but it rings a bit hollow because this isn’t his Red Dwarf, and these aren’t his Rimmer and Kryten.

    I’m afraid this final part has somewhat taken the shine off Backwards for me. Killing off Ace and the Agonoids to do Gunmen seems like such a strange left turn, and the superfluous Gunmen adaptation is too long, too gruesome, and mostly just doesn’t hit the mark. Also the ending is a bit of a cop out. What a shame. I really enjoyed the rest of the book. I can’t honestly say that Backwards feels of a piece with the first two novels but there’s some great stuff in those first four parts and even High Midnight has it’s moments. Gahh. All in all I just really, really wish we’d got The Last Human.

    EPILOGUE

    Yeah it doesn’t really belong here but I love these bits so I’m glad it’s there to end the book on a high note.

  • I’m afraid this final part has somewhat taken the shine off Backwards for me. Killing off Ace and the Agonoids to do Gunmen seems like such a strange left turn, and the superfluous Gunmen adaptation is too long, too gruesome, and mostly just doesn’t hit the mark

    I’ve not finished it yet but whilst I was reading it the other day (got up to Lister injuring himself in a multitude of different ways and continuing to fail to notice that shouldn’t happen – which feels wrong in an of itself) I was thinking I didn’t like this adaptation anywhere near as much as I have other sections in other books. I like it reads a bit differently to the show, keeps it fresh, it’s not all just whole sections copied and pasted in like in earlier books, but it’s not as enjoyable to read as it could be.

    And as you say Clem, to dispense with Ace and the Aganoids to do this is jarring. The book builds up both of those things and their importance a fair deal. The 3rd act ought to have involved them in some way. Maybe Ace and the team formulating a plan to storm and retake Red Dwarf? Might not be a very Dwarfy thing to have happen but at least it would have kept the flow of the book going in the same direction.

  • Ahead of the final recording, can I just say one more time how great this Book Club has been?

    The Dwarfcasts have been great in their own right, but there have also been some excellent discussions in the comment threads and I’ve loved the way the conversations and analysis here have fed back into the Dwarfcasts themselves.

    Hopefully the Smegazine ones will be similarly fun (although I gather that the plan isn’t to incorporate reader comments from that in the same way).

    So anyway, yeah, the book club has been one of the greatest things ever on a site that isn’t short of great things. Top work all round chaps!

  • Agree with Dave. Top work all around.

    And I think it’s because it’s largely new ground for everyone. We discuss the episodes until we’re blue in the face but books and other content only come up occasionally so having somewhere to have everyone channel it at once has been great.

    Very much looking forward to the Smegazines which I’ve never once looked at.

  • I’m on chapter 11 and inching towards the end.

    Given what we were saying about the sudden veer off into Gunmen and leaving elements that were built up in the dust, do you think Rob maybe had wanted to put the crew through the torture chamber / ring whatever its called on Red Dwarf with the Aganoids, and then realised just how final that would be so put them in the game instead where he could do all the same shit to them, but have them come out of relatively safe and unharmed

    Given how he basically quickly reverses Rimmer and Kryten’s deaths by way of putting Lister and Cat in a universe where they’re dead, he clearly wanted to have his cake and eat it a bit.

    Speaking of which, having Kryten and Rimmer both die and then basically immediately come back is very reminiscent of the end of TPL where both characters die in their own way with no consequences to it.

  • Kryten remembers Lister and Rimmer much the same why he does in the show … except has anyone actually called Rimmer a Smeg Head, least of all Kryten, across these three books, that would make Kryten away of this?

    The Rimmer is these books is often quite different to the show, and especially in Backwards where he is the grown up as it were.

    And Lister’s curries and morning breath that could cut through bank volts … when has Kryten had the time to learn this about Lister? I guess there’s the 10 years on Backwards they spent together but has they spent most that time hunter gathering (it seems from the few snippets of text we get) I can’t imagine there were many curries or horrible morning breath … and morning would be time to go to sleep on backwards anyway. Oh ok lets not start that again.

  • Ahead of the final recording, can I just say one more time how great this Book Club has been?

    Colony thread, when we’re done? I’m going to read it soon anyway, since my only experience of zoning out of the abridged audiobook is the same as never having read it.

    I’ve read all of Rob’s others, but I always held Colony’s seeming off-brand-Red-Dwarf-rather-than-just-writing-Red-Dwarf against it. I’m over all that now.

  • I might be about to open a whole can of worms here and I hope to god this doesn’t end up derailing this thread of the podcast discussion …

    But I just in the last week discovered that “uppity” has some extremely racist origins in the US, and is half of longer slur.

    Whilst I am absolutely sure Rob had zero intention of it, and the history of the usage in the UK isn’t at that level, Rimmer saying to Cat (a black character) “no need to get uppity” is slightly dodgy ground.

    It’s not even something I (or indeed anyone here I think) would have picked up on, but now I know the history of that name for people it’s hard to ignore it when its on the page.

  • Giving the Cat both Lister and Rimmer’s line about Reality Central and one big flat piece is odd. Cat is witty but not in that way.

  • Lister and Cat (Cat especially) are very very quick to just jump to another Dimension. Lister is right in that there is nothing left from them here, but Cat doesn’t even bat an eyelid at the suggestion, he is happy to just go without a thought.

    I can’t imagine making that decision to leave an entire reality behind. I know Lister has lived through a couple of different ones, but it seems a big commitment.

  • If Lister and Cat had died in BTL (some years ago – from our Lister’s perspective it was like, 100 years ago, though we know Wildfire sort of time travels too) why would Kryten and Rimmer both decide to just hangout together? Rimmer is a stubborn git but even he’d see the futility of it eventually. You’d think they’d both just shut themselves down

  • It’s really weird to finish on an Ace Epilogue after the aforementioned hurriedly writing him out and the book not being anything about the two different Rimmers.

  • Colony thread, when we’re done? I’m going to read it soon anyway, since my only experience of zoning out of the abridged audiobook is the same as never having read it.

    I’ve read all of Rob’s others, but I always held Colony’s seeming off-brand-Red-Dwarf-rather-than-just-writing-Red-Dwarf against it. I’m over all that now.

    I’ve never read Colony but I’d be up for this.

  • But I just in the last week discovered that “uppity” has some extremely racist origins in the US, and is half of longer slur.

    I wasn’t aware of this at all. Interesting.

    But in the book I think it’s very much used in the UK context where it doesn’t have that history and connotation. It’s a slightly unusual and old fashioned word and mainly makes me think of the Mr Men character!

    The racist connotations are something that’s good to be aware of in general, though.

  • Lister and Cat (Cat especially) are very very quick to just jump to another Dimension. Lister is right in that there is nothing left from them here, but Cat doesn’t even bat an eyelid at the suggestion, he is happy to just go without a thought.

    I can’t imagine making that decision to leave an entire reality behind. I know Lister has lived through a couple of different ones, but it seems a big commitment.

    I guess if it’s a choice between that or death, it’s a pretty easy decision to make.

  • It’s a slightly unusual and old fashioned word and mainly makes me think of the Mr Men character!

    Funnily enough, it was learning that Mr Uppity had been renamed Mr Snooty (this year) that lead to finding out about the US history of the word’s usage.

  • Ahead of the final recording, can I just say one more time how great this Book Club has been?

    Thank you very, very much for this Dave. These Book Clubs have probably been my favourite thing we’ve ever done on the site and it’s almost entirely down to you lot sticking with it over 18 months.

  • We now have another reason for Rob/Doug to write another novel. We need more Bookclub DwarfCasts.

  • Yeah, they’ve been an absolute joy start to finish, and a lot of fun to be a part of. Also, although it’s been slowing down a bit lately, the rate the Dwarfcasts have come has been wonderful, they’re always a highlight of the week.

  • If Lister and Cat had died in BTL (some years ago – from our Lister’s perspective it was like, 100 years ago, though we know Wildfire sort of time travels too) why would Kryten and Rimmer both decide to just hangout together? Rimmer is a stubborn git but even he’d see the futility of it eventually. You’d think they’d both just shut themselves down

    The Wildfire does seem to have some vague time travel abilities – hence why Ace goes from the 22nd Century to 3,000,000. For all we know, for this Kryten and Rimmer, they only got out of Better Than Life that morning and are about to experience the events of Garbageworld.

  • I’ve always seen one before, everyone has.

    Listen Cappsy, what you do in your own time is your own business.

Scroll to top  •  Scroll to 'Recent Comments'

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.