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Red Dwarf: Backwards - Rob Grant

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Author: Rob Grant / Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

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    4 Reviews
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      08.05.2010 23:46
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      !niaga revo dna revo ti dear nac I

      Backwards is the fourth Red Dwarf novel, but the first written solely by Rob Grant, one half of the original writing team along with Doug Naylor. Even though this is the fourth book, it follows on from the second book, Better Than Life, completely ignoring the third book; Last Human which was written by Doug Naylor. Confused yet?!


      The Characters
      - Dave Lister. The last human alive, currently absent from his home universe and living in a universe where time runs backwards.
      - Arnold Rimmer. The hologram of Lister's former bunkmate. Generally a bit on the obnoxious and arrogant side.
      - Cat. The humanoid descendent of Lister's cat which he smuggled on board Red Dwarf over 3 million years ago.
      Kryten - A mechanoid who the crew go to for advice, laundry and a cup of tea.


      So, following on from Better Than Life, we find Lister living in an alternate reality in which time flows backwards. He was brought here after dying aged 61 in his own universe and the Rimmer, Kryten and Cat arrange to meet him on his 25th birthday. When Lister doesn't turn up at the arranged time, the crew start the search for him and learn he and the Cat have been implicated in a murder. Even though this murder hasn't been committed yet, Lister has spent the last 10 years in prison, unlike the other inmates who have a 'reverse' memory and know if they're innocent or not, Lister has no idea if he committed the crime or not. The reason he's late is because this is the day he is 'captured'. He is brought from prison, unarrested and meets up with the rest of the crew. They are reverse chased until they are back in the mountains where they landed their ship Starbug.


      After missing the window for take off and being able to return to their own universe they are stuck on htraE (Earth) for another 10 years. Lister is also revealed not to be the murderer, but one of the other crew members instead. During that 10 years Lister and the Cat both become younger, ending up with a physical age of around 15. They finally are able to take of and hit the second flight window and return safely to their own universe and head back to Red Dwarf.


      What they fail to anticipate is that Red Dwarf is not where they left it! The ship's computer Holly has been trading off his IQ to increase his lifespan. He's now left in the position where he can no longer remember how to reverse the process or even calculate his current IQ. In this weakened state, he neglects to notice an Agnoid boarding the ship. Agnoids are the ultimate killing machines and there favourite prey are the old human masters. After learning Lister is the last human alive, the agnoid sets a torturous plan in motion. Can the Dwarfers get out of this one?


      The reason this novel ignores Last Human, the third book is because after writing Better Than Life, the 2 writes decided to go their separate ways for various reason. The end result is that both Last Human and Backwards follow on from the same novel. Backwards follows Better Than Life a bit more closely, starting exactly where the previous book finished. It's also a bit more nice compared to Last Human where the characters are more complex and the whole book is a lot darker. In Backwards the characters are very similar to their TV counterparts and the jokes and one liners flow more freely. The storyline is relatively simple to understand and the concept of a backwards Earth is explained well, usually through Lister who has lived there for over 30 years.


      As with the rest of the books there are some recognisable situations and one liners which have been incorporated from the TV series. I quite like this as when I read the book I can see the actors in my minds eye and it makes the jokes etc funnier. The brilliant episode from Series 6 has also been incorporated into this book and I really think it's better in print.


      I'm a big fan of Red Dwarf, both the books and the TV series and I did enjoy this novel very much. I would recommend it to Red Dwarf fans and Sci-Fi fans alike.

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        25.10.2008 17:35

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        Great read but read the others first!

        Backwards is a messed up book! It sometimes took me a little time to remember that we were going backwards and that some very confusing things may be happening now but it will all make sense in a moment.

        Lister had died and the obvious way to sort that out is to take him to a planet where he will regress in years. Just dump him there and come back, oh in 36years or so. Where better to meet your chum after all these years than the Niagra Falls gift shop. Except hes not there, he is being un-bundled away by the police. And the un-chased. Very confusing!

        His friends have also suffered disaster too though, but what, they arent sure because it hasnt happened yet, they are just suffering the consequences.

        A thoroughly amusing book, great for fans of the TV show and if you have read the previous book 'Better Than Life'. If you haven't read it I would suggest you do so before reading this book. Yes you can just plough straight into 'Backwards' but it will be so much better if you read the pevious book first. Just dont read it at bedtime when sleepy as sometimes it can be a bit confusing!

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        28.04.2003 20:56
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        This book follows on from where Better Than Life left off! If you've not read that one though, there is a brief summary at the beginning of this one. Basically, it tells you how Lister died of old age in the previous book, so his friends, Cat, Kryten and Rimmer, brought him to a dimension where time travels backwards. On this version of Earth, they arranged to meet him in thirty-six years time, at a souvenir shop at Niagra falls. We join Cat, Kryten and Rimmer in the souvenir shop, trying to locate the whereabouts of Lister from the shop assistant. This is proving difficult in a backwards reality, as they keep getting answers before they ask the questions. Kryten however, catches site of Lister on a TV monitor. Lister is in some way connected with a murder. We then join Lister in the back of a police van suffering greatly, though he doesn't really know why. As we follow him backwards in time, police brutality relieves him of his agony, as every kick and punch is undone. He also returns to the shopping mall where he is un-dragged back into it and un-surrounded by police. Kryten, Rimmer and Cat now manage to make contact with Lister, and they all go on a bizarre backwards police chase instead of being on the run. For Lister at least, this will finally answer the question of whether or not, he really did commit the murder that he's just served ten years in jail for. Also, he can hopefully get to Starbug, and return to a forwards reality, which will be an enormous relief, literally, where bowel movements are concerned. Now, as you might gather from that last sentence, this is all done in the best possible taste, I think not. Fans of the TV series will easily recognise the tone though. And I have to say, I think it is only Red Dwarf fans, that are likely to be interested in this book. For those unfamiliar with the series, there are five main characters, four of which are mentioned above. Follo
        wing an explosion, Lister was the last human left alive on board the mining ship Red Dwarf. This was because he was in stasis (a sort of frozen sleep), originally supposed to be eighteen months, but in actual fact, three million years due to dangerously high levels of radiation. Cat is a human-like creature which has evolved from the original cat brought on board by Lister and hidden away in the ship (Red Dwarf is six miles long and three miles wide by the way). Frankenstien, the cat brought on board by Lister, was pregnant. She was also the reason Lister was in stasis. The present Cat may look a lot like a human, but he still retains many cat attributes, like obsessive vanity and a fascination with shiny objects. Rimmer was Listers superior officer before he died. Now returned in hologram form, he is as irritating to Lister as he ever was, and vice versa. Rimmer's regimented, know-it-all attitude grates on Lister's rebellious slobbishness. Rimmer is also a selfish coward, who even though he is dead, will still do anything to save his own skin. Kryten is a mechanoid designed for domestic purposes in the form of cleaning. However, his computer chip brain has had to adapt to many new and unusual situations. Beneath it all though, he still retains his obsession with cleaning. Oh, and his guilt chip is at the wrong setting and is therefore hyper-active. The fifth main character is Holly, Red Dwarf's computer. It was he who brought Lister out of stasis when the radiation had abated to a safe level, which as I said, took three million years. Three million years on his own have taken their toll on Holly, who is supposed to have an IQ of six thousand, which is apparently equal to that of six thousand PE teachers. He is now suffering from computer senility. For those of you who watched the TV series, this should paint a familiar picture. For those who didn't, it probably sounds like utter drivel. Well, in many ways
        , that was the charm of the series. Some of that has been conveyed to the book. Many of the adventures are reminiscent of episodes from the series. The humour is certainly along the same vein. But, and didn't you just know there would be a but, it lacks the superb cast's delivery. Undoubtedly the script had to be funny for the series to succeed. But a wonderfully funny cast also played their part in its success. Although reading the book automatically brings out the voices of the characters, which are so well known, it still leaves you wanting to see a repeat run of Red Dwarf more than anything. Without the budget constraints of television, the settings are much more elaborate. But I still prefer the cheap wobbly sets we grew used to seeing. It is quite well written considering Rob Grant has had to take the leap from script writing, which would seem a very different discipline. The humour is still funny, which is always a plus. Some of it may be deemed unsuitable for children though. This is the first Red Dwarf book to be written by Rob Grant alone, as the previous two were written with his script writing partner, Doug Naylor. Although this isn't a great deal different in style, I would have to say a little of the spark has gone out of this. Not enough to make the book intolerable by any means. But it does seem to have lost just a little of the edge the previous two had. All in all, I'd still have to recommend the book to serious fans. It does compliment the series, even if it fails as a cheap alternative to buying the videos. For those who have no interest in the TV series, this is a definite non-starter though. I will say, all the action isn't confined to a backwards reality. But as we all know with Red Dwarf, that doesn't mean they got off the planet. In fact, it could still mean almost anything, where reality isn't even confined to one universe. It's available from Amazon at £5.59 or
        full price £6.99 from shops. It's published by Penguin. Thankyou for reading.

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          21.08.2000 00:48
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          This one must have taken some thinking about. Picture this, although still on earth you happen to be in a parallel universe. No big deal I know, but this parallel universe is one where time actually runs backwards. That’s a different kettle of fish altogether. It’s all a bit mad, for instance – you die, get brought back to life (or born), go through a mid life crisis (a good thing), go through puberty (backwards), become a toddler, an embryo and then end up in a pretty sticky situation indeed! What’s more, wars are a good thing (bringing millions of people back to life) and Father Christmas is the most heartless b*** that you’re ever likely to hear of! It’s in this topsy-turvey world where we find our five favourite space zeroes – Holly, Kryten, Lister, Rimmer and the Cat. The action follows on directly from the book ‘Better Than Life’, where, due to a time dilation accident, Lister has died of old age. The others, bless ‘em, come up with the simple idea of dumping the dead lister on this backwards planet and hey presto! Immortality! After leaving him for quite a few years the time comes for them to go back and meet him – next to the souvenir stall at Niagara Falls. After some hilarious storytelling, courtesy of the author Mr Grant, they get around to taking off in their decrepit spaceship ‘Starbug’ in search of their more ‘sensible’ universe. The trouble is, it’s taken them a bit longer than planned because Starbug is in a bit of a bad way. Lister and the Cat, although pretty useless space adventurers anyway, are now a pair of useless, immature, ten-year old space adventurers that are still prone to giggling at the mere mention of certain naughty words (a bit like I do). And so the insanity continues… If you’re after a laugh then you’ll love t
          his book. It’s not only very well written and also very funny, it’s pretty thought provoking too. Red Dwarf fans may recognise certain scenes included in the T.V series when reading this book (the episodes ‘Gunmen of the Apocalypse’, ‘Dimension Jump’ and ‘Backwards’ all apply) but this literary version is also very enjoyable. Available at a web site/bookshop/library near you.

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