This is kind of an old favourites sort of post; I’ve watched a lot of Red Dwarf recently in preparation for series XI and so I dug out the original novel version. I’ve been thinking for a while about going back to books I read years ago and writing about them but I suppose these will be less like book reviews because my memory is hazy and more me being nostalgic. This one is a bit of a blur between talking about the book and the TV series but they’re all kind of a unit to me.
Red Dwarf was written collectively- originally- by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor under the pen name Grant Naylor. They later split as a team and wrote books later but this original was at least a joint project (as were the first few series of the TV show). It’s one of my favourites and I pretty much grew up watching the show with my brother; my copy of the book came from a second hand bookstore in down the road from my Grandma and has my name written in it so I must have only been about thirteen when I bought it. The premise is; in a future where space travel is common (and for many people menial) Dave Lister gets drunk on a pub crawl in London and wakes up on a Saturn moon with a pink hat and the wrong passport. When he joins the Space Corps as a way to get back home he ends up three million years away from Earth as the last human being alive with only a creature that evolved from his pet cat, a hologram of his dead bunk mate and a senile computer for company.
I always loved Grant Naylor as a partnership in writing (the series was never the same after Rob Grant left the series). It’s both funny and with enough scientific references to keep it grounded, but it’s still completely ridiculous. I think the book is perhaps more believable than the TV series (which was always confined to 30 minutes an episode) because it can expand on all the things that the show had to gloss over for time’s sake. So far from being a rehash of the series it’s a book in its own right because it fleshes out so much.
I was also having a discussion with my flatmate about how, given the series originally aired in 1988, how incredible it was to have at least 50% of the main crew be POC. Very few women turn up (although in the book that’s not the case if I remember rightly- some of the male TV characters are swapped to women) but the characters who are in every episode are all non-white. Which is probably one of the few things the BBC got right in the eighties.
But genuinely I love this book. I just reread the first four chapters and I actually laughed out loud. Which doesn’t happen as often as it used to. It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s written well which is fairly extraordinary for something that combines sci-fi, comedy and TV-script writers.