It’s only taken us fourteen years, but today is the day that we record our final episode commentary from the original BBC run of Red Dwarf. With the bit between our teeth and Broadcunting House having been moved online, we want to carry on this out-of-character run of recording on a weekly-ish basis while we can, so what next for DwarfCasts? Well, we’ve still got thirteen episodes from the Dave era to tick off, plus a whole host of spin-offs, extras and rarities to jabber over if we get stuck. But we’ll be alternating those with something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Welcome to The DwarfCast Book Club.

Every fortnight or so, we’ll be re-reading one part of one Red Dwarf novel to then discuss in great detail, and we’d love it if you joined us along the way. First up, naturally, it’s Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers Part One: Your Own Death, and How to Cope With It, and if you can squeeze in those 94 pages before we record on the weekend of 4th/5th July, we’d love to hear from you so that we can include your comments, reviews and observations in our discussion. Whether you’re just jogging your memory or experiencing the novels for the first time, please leave your comments in this thread. To help us out, please indicate whether each point you make is a general one about the part as a whole, or relating to a specific sub-chapter, so that we can collate everything more easily.

We’re really looking forward to revisiting the novels and finally discussing them with the level of depth that they so clearly deserve, and we hope that as many of you as possible find the time to join our virtual book group.

History of a Joke featured image

Cliché, Episode 2
(TX: 23rd March 1981, Radio 4)

Out of tune bleeps and bloops, like Wendy Carlos on an off-day.

PRESENTER: The final cadences of the last symphony of the Spanish composer Don Dimitri, who died early this morning at the age of 86. Cliché now pays its own special tribute to Don Dimitri - one of the true musical innovators of this century. Don Dimitri's life was characterised by his refusal to accept the conventions and mores of the society in which he lived. In 1926, he went to the Sorbonne to study music. Rapidly, it became apparent he could not reconcile his own ideas with those of the establishment, and after three hours at the university, he left to set up his own school of musical thought. Professor Blakehust takes up the story.

BLAKEHURST: Don Dimitri's biggest contribution to musical theory was the decative. Instead of the conventional eight note scale the octave, he initiated the ten note scale - the decative. He invented two new notes: H and J. Instead of 'doh, ray, me, fah, soh, lah, ti, doh', the decative would run 'doh, ray, me, fah, soh, woh, boh, lah, ti, doh'. And in reverse: 'doh, ti, lah, boh, woh, soh, fah, me, ray, doh'.

PRESENTER: And he wrote all his symphonies using this scale?

BLAKEHURST: Indeed. And the instruments in his orchestra had to be adapted accordingly. Pianos were fitted with extra black keys; flutes now came in four sections instead of three; and accordions were scrapped, as the decative made them far too long for human beings to play. Trombones ceased to be a musical instrument, and now became a lethal weapon. And the lengthening of bassoons and saxophones extended the mouthpiece into the region of the lower intestine. Incidentally, in Don Dimitri's orchestra, women were banned from playing the cello.

PRESENTER: What other significant changes were inspired by the decative?

BLAKEHURST: Time signatures were changed. Instead of 3/4 time it was now 0.75 time. 7/8 time became 0.875 time, and common time - or 4/4 time - was now simply... 1. Don Dimitri's quartets comprised of five players, and his triangles had two sides - neither of them connected.

PRESENTER: And now, the last note of the last chord of the last cadence is written. At the grand old age of 86, Don Dimitri passed away this morning. Never one to do things in a conventional way, he died in a manner he would probably have appreciated - trying to suck a kazoo instead of blowing it. He inhaled the kazoo, it became lodged in his throat, and he died to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy. We leave you now with the strains of what is universally acknowledged as his masterwork: quintet for seven instruments in H minor. The only work he ever wrote in 0.333 recurring time, a time signature which never actually allows you to reach the end of the first bar. Hence it's popular title: Dom Dimiti's Unfinished Symph. Goodnight.

A warped version of I Do Like To be Beside the Seaside plays, with accompanying bleeps and bloops.

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Just time for a quick update as I sit on the train moving at speed towards London town. The ever official TOS has revealed that we can finally purchase the unabridged version of the first Red Dwarf novel, Infinity: Welcomes Careful Drivers. It lasts eight hours and costs £9 which, as Andrew points out, is pant shittingly good value. The even better news is that it's not an iTunes exclusive, but is instead being distributed through Audible.com, which is perfect for all us curmudgeons who would rather kill ourselves than install the Windows version of anything from Apple.

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