Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor Book Review

So as you may have noticed, I gave this blog a bit of a makeover. The previous theme was called ‘Truly Minimal’, but I just thought it was too minimal. So I thought I’d give it a facelift and it’s looking much better!

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But that’s not what you’re here for! You’re obviously here to read my review of Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor!

Grant Naylor is the collective name for the two writers of the UK TV series Red Dwarf of which this book is based.

Red Dwarf, for those of you who don’t know, is about David Lister. After finding himself on one of Saturn’s moons after a night of really heavy drinking, he joins the Space Corps in hopes that the mining spaceship Red Dwarf can get him back to Earth. Lister is put in a stasis booth for bringing a cat on board in the hopes that he’ll come out when they get to Earth. In that time, the entire crew gets wiped out, with the exception of Lister and his cat. Three million years later, Lister is re-animated, everybody is dead and his cat has evolved into a human like life form.

This book follows the same plot line as the series featuring season one and two episodes The End, Future Echoes, Kryten, Me² and Better Than Life.

I am a massive fan of Red Dwarf, so as soon as I saw this I knew I was in for a treat. Red Dwarf is just absolutely amazing and so so funny.  But it always leaves me asking a million and one questions. How did a boy from Liverpool end up on a spaceship millions of light years from Earth? How did his cat evolve into Felis Sapiens? The book answers all the questions I had about Red Dwarf.

The book is almost the same as the series. Most of the dialogue is the same, most of what happens is the same. The biggest difference and perhaps what makes it better than the series is the fact that we get to see the thoughts of these characters we love so much. We know that Rimmer always fails the astro-navigation exam, but now we also know why. We get to see into this story in a much more in-depth way and really get to travel on Red Dwarf with them. We get some much need background information that makes watching the show so much better.

The book (and the series) has perhaps my favourite bit of dialogue of everything I’ve read (or seen)…

Picture from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2009/jan/27/red-dwarf-cast-reunited

Photograph: BBC

Lister: Your explanation for anything slightly peculiar is aliens, isn’t it? You lose your keys, it’s aliens. A picture falls off the wall, it’s aliens. That time we used up a whole bog roll in a day, you thought that was aliens as well.
Rimmer: Well we didn’t use it all, Lister. Who did?
Lister: Rimmer, ALIENS used our bog roll?
Rimmer: Just cause they’re aliens doesn’t mean to say they don’t have to visit the little boys’ room. Only they probably do something weird and alien-esque, like it comes out of the top of their heads or something.
Lister: Well I wouldn’t like to be stuck behind one in a cinema.

At times it’s very Douglas Adams in its writing. There’s a moment early on in the book when George McIntyre kills himself due to massive debts and the narrative switches to from the perspective of his rubber plant, which of course isn’t sentient but it is for the purpose of that narrative. So sometimes it felt a bit like a poor copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide, but it soon found its own style.

In terms of how it compares to the series, I’m not sure I can decide on a winner here. I like the series for introducing me into the world, but I also like the book for giving me the much needed background information that I needed. The best character that translated best to book was probably Rimmer. It’s always interesting to get into the mind of someone as neurotic as Rimmer, to really understand how he thinks.

So who wins here? This time it’s book!

To play you out is one of my favourite moments in television history…

Next time on A Thousand Lives, it’s The Silence of Gethsemane by Michel Benoit

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