Red Dwarf, by Grant Naylor

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Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) The first lesson Lister learned about space travel was you should never try it. But Lister didn’t have a choice. All he remembered was going on a birthday celebration pub crawl through London. When he came to his senses again, with nothing in his pockets but a passport in the name of Emily Berkenstein.

So he did the only thing he could. Amazed to discover they would actually hire him, he joined the space corps—-and found himself aboard Red Dwarf, a spaceship as big as a small city that, six or seven years from now, would get him back to Earth. What Lister couldn’t forsee was that he’d inadvertently signed up for a one–way jaunt three miillion years into the future—a future which would see him the last living member of the human race, with only a hologram crew mate and a highly evolved cat for company. Of course, that was before the ship broke the light barrier and things began to get really weird…

Thoughts: As a long-time fan of the show, I couldn’t pass up the chance to read the novel that started it all. The problem with being a fan of the show first is finding a way to comment on the book as a standalone thing, not in comparison to the TV series that came after it. It’s hard to draw the line at knowing how much I enjoyed the book for its own sake and how much I enjoyed it because it took me back to the days of watching British comedy on YTV at night.

On one hand, the humour in the book was great, subtle in some places and wonderfully over-the-top in others. I was reminded of Douglas Adams at some points, which probably speaks well for Naylor’s ability to make the absurd seem normal and the normal seem pretty darn laughable when you get right down to it. On the other hand, as a whole the writing style didn’t seem particularly distinguishable. I doubt I’d be able to look at a piece of Naylor’s writing and go, “Aha, that was written by Grant Naylor, no doubt about it.”

That being said, though, it isn’t as though I didn’t enjoy the book. When compared to the show, it added background information to characters, made them see a little less like characters and more like people with very strange but entirely believable personality quirks. And I certainly want to be able to read the rest of the Red Dwarf books whenever I’m able to, and not just for nostalia purposes, either.

This isn’t a book I would recommend to someone right off the bat; I think it’s best for fans of the show to read, really, or someone who enjoys space comedy (and there aren’t too many of that kind of book around, really). Enjoyable, but not spectacular unless you already know you’ll like it.

One comment on “Red Dwarf, by Grant Naylor

  1. I love Red Dwarf so much – it was one of the first sci-fi series I ever saw and I loved the banter between Lister and Rimmer. I read the books years ago but can barely remember much about either of them – great review. It's really taken me back to the early 90s. :)

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