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Red Dwarf books review

Red Dwarf books review

Author: Carol Valdez

'Red Dwarf' is a great science-fiction/comedy television series that ran for around 10 years in the UK. It concerns one Dave Lister, a lowly technician aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. He smuggles a cat onboard the ship for company, but the offence manages to get him put into stasis (suspended animation) for 18 months as punishment. Meanwhile, while he's frozen in time, his annoying bunkmate and superior - Arnold J. Rimmer - accidentally causes the deaths of everyone on the entire ship. The radiation levels that result from the accident make it too dangerous for the ship's computer, Holly, to let Lister out of stasis. So Lister stays frozen in time for 3 million years. When the radiation finally dies down enough for him to be let out, he finds he is now the last human left alive in a lonely universe, and that the ship is a long way from home.

It's a very funny series, trading on great character dynamics and inventive comedy for laughs, with just a little bit of tragedy unscoring it all. Why am I talking about this TV show in a books blog? Well, the show's creators - Rob Grant and Douglas Naylor - also wrote some books based on the show.

The books were written after the show started on television, but they aren't really connected to the series at all. The books start at the beginning, re-writing the series in mla formatting ( example here ) - allowing for bigger and more epic storytelling, and giving the writers a second chance to iron out any kinks they might've found in the television series.

The first book, simply titled 'Red Dwarf' (sometimes referred to as 'Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers'), begins with Lister coming aboard Red Dwarf and his meeting of Rimmer - a lowly and amusingly petty character who strikes up an instant rapport of mutual dislike with Lister. The book does a good job of fleshing out the various characters and their origins and re-uses some of the better storylines from the television series to sculpt a bigger picture.

The second book, 'Better Than Life', picks up directly from the first book and continues the themes of desperate lonliness and boredom that underscore the story - using one or two storylines from the television series and really opening them out onto a much bigger canvas. We follow Lister into his old age and finally see the Red Dwarf crew catch up with Earth - something that never happened in the show.

From here the two authors broke their partnership. Douglas Naylor wrote the follow up, 'The Last Human', on his own - bringing a more Douglas Adams-like flavour to the story and giving it a more space-opera feel, as well as introducing two or three other major characters. It's probably my least favourite of the four Red Dwarf novels, but it's still very good all the same.

Rob Grant, a few years later, also wrote a follow up - one that directly contradicts the events that Naylor depicted. Whilst this might be annoying to some readers, I think you just have to take the split between the writers with a grain of salt and enjoy each of their individual follow-ups as independent entities. Grant's book, 'Backwards', is a lot more complex than 'The Last Human' and feels a little bit more like the earlier series of Red Dwarf than Naylor's book.

Anyway, that's it. I don't think Grant will ever write another Red Dwarf book... Naylor is still trying to get a Red Dwarf movie made but it looks like it will probably never happen. If he fails there and doesn't manage to get one more series of the television show made I think he'll at least write another Red Dwarf book.

Even if you've never seen the show, I highly reccomend these books - especially the first two.

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