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Between 1989 and 1996, four Tie-In Novels were published for Red Dwarf, but in a different continuity (which split into two continuities itself after the show's creators ended their collaborative partnership).
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The first novel provides substantially the same opening as the TV series, but with more detail. David Lister's birthday party begins in Brighton, and apparently ends on Titan. At any rate, that's where he wakes up, with a wicked hangover and a single Wellington. He steals a hopping taxi in order to try to make enough money for a ticket home. His first customer is Arnold Judas Rimmer, a low-ranking crewman on board the ship Red Dwarf. After some hijinks involving Rimmer's visit to a robo-brothel, Lister signs on with the Red Dwarf in the mistaken belief that this will get him to Earth faster. When he learns that the ship is on a multi-year mission to the outer solar system, at the end of which he will be an old man (over 25, by Lister's calculation), Lister comes up with a scheme to spend the voyage in stasis, and keep his youth. He purchases a cat at the next landfall, and ensures that he is found to own it, upon which he it put in stasis as a penalty for bringing an unauthorized life-form on board. Shortly afterwards, the crew is killed by a radiation leak, and Holly, the ship's computer, takes it into deep space. Three million years later, the radiation has fallen to survivable levels, and Lister is let out of stasis, to find that his only companions are Holly, Arnold Rimmer's holographic ghost, and the last living descendant of his pet cat, although they soon find a crashed ship inhabited by the mechanoid Kryten, who killed the crew and destroyed the ship by giving the computer components a good wash.

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Novels:

  • Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by "Grant Naylor" (1989)
  • Better Than Life by "Grant Naylor" (1990)
  • Last Human by Doug Naylor (1995)
  • Backwards by Rob Grant (1996)


The novels provide examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • The "Future Echoes" featured in Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers show Lister with twin boys at some point in the near future, with a future echo of a very old Lister also appearing. However, both Last Human and Backwards ended with the Dwarfers in another reality, meaning it would be impossible for those future echoes to come to to pass.
    • The entire Nova 5 duality jump drive arc is dropped after the first book. Of course, by the time the crew escapes the Better Than Life simulation, they have slightly more pressing concerns and in both authors' separate books, returning Lister from his resurrection on Backwards Earth is something that requires a smaller vessel.
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    • In Better Than Life, the newly super-intelligent Holly reveals that Lister is the creator of the universe. This revelation is never brought up again.
    • In Better Than Life Lister's objective after being rescued from Garbage World is to somehow tow it actually the abandoned Earth back to our solar system. After his death and resurrection in the backwards universe, neither Last Human or Backwards ever mention it again.
  • Absent Aliens: Same as the show, though it mentions that scientists were somehow able to prove there was no other life in the universe, two thousand years after Lister's time.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In contrast to the TV series, the disaster that wiped out the Red Dwarf crew was caused not by Rimmer's incomptence, but by a series of malfunctions that the crew were unable to notice. For some reason, the disaster did not happen in Ace Rimmer's universe, despite it having no connection to his presence (or lack thereof) on the ship, with the the one real difference was that Ace was held back in school, while Prime Rimmer wasn't (which led to Lister having a bunkmate on the ship who encouraged to apply himself).
  • Adapted Out: A lot, due to compression, but some biggies include:
    • The elderly Cat Priest from "Waiting for God". Instead, the Cat is the only Cat person left on Red Dwarf.
    • Lister trying to revive Kochanski as a hologram, and the whole plot of "Balance of Power" and "Confidence and Paranoia". Instead, Rimmer creates the duplicate by using the Nova 5's systems instead.
    • Lister trying to teach Kryten to rebel against his programming never happens, and Kryten instead remains an Extreme Doormat.
    • In the audiobook adaptation of Backwards, the entire western simulation in Kryten's psyche is excised with Kryten and Rimmer instead being sucked out into space when Kryten shoots out Starbug's hull to get rid of D'juhn Keep. The end result is more or less the same, as in the book Kryten doesn't create the dove program in time to save the ship's navicom, forcing Lister and The Cat to use Ace's ship. Still, it's a pretty smegging big thing to remove as the western simulation made up around a third of the book or more!
  • Adaptational Intelligence: The show's Lister would eventually show he was actually pretty clever in his way, being more Book Dumb than anything else. The books' Lister shows, through meticulously researching his plan to get put into stasis to get back to Earth without doing any work, that he's far more intelligent from the off.
    • In the novel, the only reason he is the lowest ranked member of the ship is because he only signed up as a crewmember so he could get a paid ride back to Earth, and didn't particularly care what position he had.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Rimmer's brothers. The show generally shows they were pretty horrible to him, once playing a "prank" where they tied him down and smeared him in jam, before covering him in ants, but here they nearly killed him at one point, requiring Rimmer to need CPR. Also, Frank apparently encouraged a young Rimmer to throw stones at a Dead Person's Rights march.
    • Subverted in Backwards: we're introduced to Ace from the viewpoint of a failing test pilot convinced he'll fail his next exam. When Ace pulls rank privileges (like claiming all the barstools in an empty bar), is a spectacular Jerkass to him and threatens the barmaid he has a crush on, the trainee knocks him out - giving the impression Ace will (somehow) be a complete dick here. Later on, it turns out Ace and the barmaid set up the incident to give the pilot confidence in his own abilities.
  • Adaptation Deviation:
    • The Polymorph's methods in Better Than Life differ from the forms it takes in the show.
      • When attempting to push Lister to the brink of fear, it turns itself into a rat, rather than a snake.
      • Instead of using the appearance of Rimmer's mother to provoke his anger, the Polymorph turns itself into digital data, invades Rimmer's personality files, and forces him to relive countless frustrations and moments of anger.
    • Since the events of "Marooned" and "White Hole" are merged, after Starbug's crash on the ice planet, rather than Lister and Rimmer bickering while stuck, Rimmer gets dragged back to Red Dwarf, leaving Lister entirely on his own.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The novels turn an episodic TV series into a sprawling adventure. Each of them takes particular episodes from the series and incorporates their plots into one long narrative, integrated with original material. The first novel is much more heavily based on episodes of the series than its sequels, and also has a much more meandering plot. However, its non-episodic nature means it moves between events far quicker than the series; the crew's encounter with Kryten, which took place in the first episode of season 2 of the show, happens not long after the "Future Echoes" incident (which was episode 2 of season 1). Conversely, the two Rimmers have months here, rather than mere days in the show, to completely fall out with each other.
  • Adaptation Expansion: For the episodes that are incorporated into the novels' plots, they go deeply in-depth and add a lot of detail that wasn't or couldn't be realised on screen. The novels' depiction of the AR Game "Better Than Life", as compared to its more lighthearted TV depiction, is a good example. Another is the ship's drive room; initially depicted in the series as a medium size room with a handful of operatives, here, it is much larger, with dozens of crew members working constantly.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The Simulants from the TV series were renamed Agonoids in Backwards, likely because Last Human had also briefly used Simulants.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Petersen, who is introduced swilling down a twelve-pack of whiskey, only stopping to let Lister have a sip or two. Holly even cites this as the reason he didn't revive Petersen as a hologram - given Lister had already just tried to drink himself to death, Petersen would've been no help at all, and actually would've likely finished David off. It's noted that he'd been drunk every night of his life since he was twelve years old.
    • Kryten's mindscape uses this as the excuse for Sheriff Will Carton's lack of memories and skill as the Agonoid virus infects and destroys more and more of his core processes.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy:
    • Lister winds up on Mimas - and the path to becoming the last living human, 3 million years in the future - after a wild birthday bender. Happens again at the end of the first novel, this time including Rimmer and the Cat, when they wind up in Better than Life.
    • Lister's will and subsequent funeral in Better Than Life is a massive case of this.
    • In Last Human, Lister has some Kinitawowi moonshine on his wedding night. He only takes a tiny sip, but that is enough to knock him out cold in moments. The narration goes on to mention a rumor that once someone is drunk on Kinitawowi moonshine, they can stay drunk for weeks, perhaps even months (which, to Lister's mind, explains most of his subsequent behavior over the next few weeks).
    • A returning Petersen's drunken rampage in Backwards, culminating in his stapling a guard's penis to his groin. Ouch.
  • Alternate Continuity: The novels.
    • Also within the novels themselves. Grant and Naylor jointly wrote the first two books, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Better Than Life. They then separately wrote books called Backwards and Last Human, each of which is a direct alternate-continuity sequel to BTL.
    • Ret-Canon: As of Series IV, Lister's backstory with Kochanski is Ret Conned to one closer to in Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers than series 1 and 2.
      • In one case, an episode was adapted from a section of a novel rather than the other way around: the episode "White Hole" is based on the "Garbage World" section of the novel Better Than Life.
  • Alternate Universe:
    • A universe where time runs backwards appears in Better Than Life and Backwards. The former has Holly determine that there are at least four more out there. The main universe is the one getting it all wrong.
    • Backwards and Last Human diverge from each other from the end of Better Than Life.
    • Almost all the events of Last Human take place in an alternate universe wherein their version of Lister is a homicidal sociopath.
    • Backwards had Ace's universe and an alternate universe to that where another version of Ace crossed dimensions too close and was burnt to a crisp.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Better Than Life has Kryten, as a result of the horror that is spaghettification, experience what it's like to be Rimmer. He tries to scream, but aforementioned spaghettification makes this impossible.
    • M'Aiden Ty-One's fate in Backwards. Tricked into using a scramble card by D'Juhn Keep that he is told will increase his reflexes, the card actually contains a computer virus which begins shutting down his systems one by one. He starts off as confused and disorientated and gradually grows weaker until he is unable to move or even speak properly. The absolute last thing the virus goes after is his pain receptors, so he is fully conscious and can feel everything as D'Juhn harvests him for the replacement parts he needs to get himself back in full working order.
    • Also in Backwards, Rimmer's death. The Apocalypse virus melts him from the inside out, with first his legs going, then the rest of his body (as the unmelted parts break out in horrendous blisters), finally reducing him to a puddle of liquid flesh containing just his eyeballs. And he's conscious the entire time.
  • Anyone Can Die: Each of the main characters dies at some point over the course of the novels, except for the Cat (and even then, two of his alternate selves die at some point). Particularly jarring in Backwards where both Rimmer and Kryten die in their confrontation with the Apocalypse gang only a chapter from the end of the book.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Talkie Toaster, a beloved but extremely minor part of the TV series, becomes a major character in Better Than Life, and despite being a talking toaster actually manages to save the day a couple of times. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • Minor characters from The End, such as Petersen and George McIntyre are fleshed out and given backstories and motivations.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: In Backwards after Lister is decapitated by a tomahawk during the western simulation (but is unable to die) an aghast Rimmer asks him if he's alright. Cat (who's just been shot between the eyes) immediately lampshades what a dumb question this is to ask someone whose head is lying on the ground several feet away from their body. Admittedly Lister still makes his headless body continue to advance on the Apocalypse Boys while his head shouts taunts from the ground. When Rimmer is subsequently melted into a steaming puddle of blistered flesh by the virus (while still remaining alive and conscious), Cat sarcastically asks him if he's alright.
  • The Atoner: Lister makes a deal with the Earth to make up for the millenia of abuse by humanity.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Love is a strong term, but Rimmer and Lister otherwise fit this trope really well - most notably at the end of Better Than Life, where Rimmer is crushed by Lister's death, ensures his funeral is carried out exactly as Lister requested it (despite that being a massive case of Alcohol-Induced Idiocy) and is the principal mover and shaker in Lister's resurrection. Lister reciprocates in Last Human when Rimmer dies saving them all, noting he'd give anything to have Rimmer back to make his last peace with him.
  • Bang Bang BANG: In Backwards, Ace Rimmer's CO resigns his commission and takes a bath before pulling out his sidearm and fires it inside the confines of his bathroom (NOT to kill himself as was implied, but to defiantly blow up the bottle of whiskey that had metaphorically ruined his life). The gunshot is so loud that his ears start to bleed and he exclaims "Bugger me, that was loud!" Justified in that he's in a confined and tiled space that would amplify the sound of the gunshot.
  • Batman Gambit: Lister intentionally brings Frankenstein aboard Red Dwarf in Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers after finding her on planet leave, in order to get himself a sentencing in a stasis pod and thereby skipping the 4 year journey back to Earth. Bringing unquarantined animals aboard the mining vessel happens to be the least serious crime resulting in a stasis sentence, which Lister had been betting on.
    • Unlike the TV series, the novel goes to great lengths to point out that Frankenstein was not, in fact, an unquarantined animal at all. Lister had very carefully made sure she had all her shots and had been properly quarantined before he purchased her, but never presented the paperwork because he wanted to be put in stasis.
      • This works because of the Retcon nature of Lister's motives for being on Red Dwarf; in the TV series, he's genuinely working there to save up money for buying a property on Fiji, whilst in the book he's only using Red Dwarf as a way to finally get back to Earth after a birthday bender saw him somehow wind up on Mimas. As Red Dwarf only approaches Earth every couple of years, going to stasis was the best way to get to Earth without having to wait for it doing work he hated.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Towards the end of Last Human, the characters are forced to perform a ritual to protect themselves from the Rage by forming a circle and using it to channel the Rage into one of them, killing that person but saving everyone else. Lister's Evil Twin steals the Luck Virus and takes it to make sure it isn't him. Only, when the Rage actually strikes, it's so powerful and alluring that everyone in the circle is temporarily driven insane so that they want to be possessed by it. But only one of them's taken the Luck Virus, which gives you everything you want...
  • Beastly Bloodsports:
    • In Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the Ganymede Mafia run giant snail fights. The Gambling Addict Macintyre claims there's nothing more thrilling than watching one snail take three hours to score a hit, and its opponent retreat into its shell for the rest of the day.
    • The Cat's Better Than Life fantasies include several of these, such as "Creature Polo" (where a small, furry animal of unknown species is used as a ball) and "Mouse Tennis".
  • Because Destiny Says So: Lister abandons his plans to go into stasis to await the ship's return to Earth in the first book because he saw echoes of the future that couldn't happen if he did.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: When Lister brings up Rimmer's trip to an android brothel, he manages to summon up genuine indignation, since it contrasts so greatly with the mental image Rimmer has of himself.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kryten, stuck with Talkie Toaster (Patent applied for) for a few days, starts finding him so irritating he has to resist the urge to destroy the annoying little bastard.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In Better Than Life, the main inhabitants of Garbage World are eight-foot long cockroaches.
  • Big Fancy House: Petersen has bought one on the moon of Triton, orbiting Neptune, for a ridiculously cheap price and has signed up on Red Dwarf to earn his passage out to it. The estate agent has sent him a sketch of the place and Lister questions why he wasn't given a photograph. Petersen responds that it's impossible to photograph in a methane atmosphere and that they don't plan to terraform Triton for several years yet. Holly later notes that this is not the action of a man suitable to be revived to even keep himself sane, never mind anyone else. This gets a Call-Back in Backwards, where Petersen is working his way back towards Earth because, while he doesn't mind hanging around the house all day in a spacesuit, he's more concerned with the fact that he's forced to do it sober.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Each of the novels has one.
    • Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers ends with the crew being stuck in a virtual reality simulation of their fantasies, which gives them all everything they ever wanted, but will eventually kill two of them by starvation.
    • Better Than Life ends with Lister's death and resurrection on backwards Earth along with Kochanski, but unable to leave until the others return for him, not to mention that Holly has less than a minute to live should he be switched back on.
    • Last Human probably gets the best possible scenario of the series. Rimmer, of all people, performs two heroic sacrifices in order for the crew and the "volunteers" for the terraforming project to survive and Lister has been rendered sterile by his Evil Counterpart. Yet, after the planet travels through the Omni Zone and the survivors return to the surface, it is implied that the Luck virus can reverse Lister's sterility and that Lister and Kochanski can begin to rebuild the human race.
    • Rimmer, Kryten, Holly and Ace Rimmer are all killed during Backwards (and since Kryten's cure for the Apocalypse virus doesn't remedy Starbug's problem in time to avoid losing the ship, Kryten and Rimmer's sacrifice was a bit wasteful). Lister and the Cat use Ace's ship to jump dimensions to an alternate Red Dwarf where they had died in Better Than Life, but Kryten, Rimmer and Holly are all okay.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • Rimmer lost his virginity to Yvonne McGruder, the ship's boxing champion, who may have been suffering from a concussion as she kept calling Rimmer Norman. In a slightly less squicky Retcon from the televised series, McGruder was truly interested in him, but because their respective coworkers had teased them over the awkwardness of their initial encounter and McGruder's concussion meant that she wasn't sure the event had actually happened, they both waited for the other to make the first move in reestablishing contact, something neither did.
    • Happens to Lister in Last Human, on his wedding night with Khakhakhakkhhakhakkkhakkkkkh the Kinitawowi chief's daughter. After drinking Kinitawowi moonshine and passing out, he wakes up to find her riding on top of him.
  • Blatant Lies: While trying to convince Lister not to go into stasis and leave him to be switched off, Rimmer claims that he only treated Lister the way he did to "make a man" out of him. Lister doesn't buy it for a second.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Rimmer went to one in his childhood. We get a few glimpses of it when the polymorph rummages around in his memory files. Most of the memories involve Rimmer being given vicious beatings for no reason whatsoever.
  • Body Horror:
    • Spaghettification does not in fact cause people to want to consume vast amounts of spaghetti. It causes them to merge into one hideous, contorted, screaming mass.
    • The Polymorph's transformation, free from TV BS&P, are much more visceral than in the show.
    • Some of the GELFs described sound pretty horrific, such as the living car.
  • Brutal Honesty: After a few days dealing with a newly hologramatic Rimmer, Lister just out and out tells him that he doesn't like him. Rimmer cannot believe this.
  • Butt-Monkey: One notable instance for Rimmer in Last Human: with Lister stuck on Cyberia, his role from "DNA" (where Cat accidentally turns him into a chicken) is given to Rimmer, who proceeds to get it a LOT worse, with the book noting the crew had to go through several hundred tries to get him back to his original form.
  • Call to Agriculture: Lister on Garbage World. Waiting three and a half decades for his crewmates, he needed something to do.
  • Came Back Wrong: Not that it was a spectacular piece of software to begin with, but after getting fed into the waste disposal unit, once Talkie Toaster is fixed, it's convinced it's a moose.
  • Canon Discontinuity: After the Grant/Naylor writing partnership broke up in 1993, both writers penned a new Red Dwarf novel: Doug Naylor wrote Last Human in 1995, and Rob Grant wrote Backwards in 1996. Each one ignores the other and is written as following the second book Better Than Life.
  • Cat People: The novels get a little more time to flesh out the Cat race (but not the Cat himself, since he is mind-meltingly shallow and superficial). Their makeshift city in Red Dwarf's cargo bay is comprised of little igloos, due to their instinctual fondness for curling up in confined spaces, even when they're human-sized, and the Cat himself is no exception. The Cat himself frequently lounges, dozes off, or snoozes, and initially it's a struggle for Lister to get any answers from him at all, since the Cat has the attention span of... well, a cat.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Game in the first book. Introduced in the fourth chapter and then seemingly forgotten, until Lister discovers that he and his crewmates are in the Game near the end.
      • On that same note, the "wild rumour" that A-Shift leader Petrovitch was a drug dealer that Rimmer had been spreading when establishing Rimmer's spite for the character. Petrovitch was the reason that the Game was on the ship.
    • The super-intelligent Holly revealing all sorts of fantastic new scientific theories and facts to a thoroughly uniniterested Talkie Toaster in Better Than Life seems like little more than a joke, but becomes vitally important to the plot later on when Holly is offline and can't be turned back on, and Red Dwarf is heading straight for a black hole. Lucky that the Toaster is still around and was forced to go through Holly's lecture on how to survive a black hole!
    • The Oblivion Virus from Last Human. Initially used as a way to knock out the power to the penal colony where Lister's alternate self is imprisoned, Kryten later intends to use it to defeat The Rage, a gestalt entity made up of the rage of innocent prisoners experimented upon to terraform planets. In the end, it's Rimmer who makes use of the virus.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Agonoids are unable to create new body parts for themselves when their old ones break down, so the only way for an Agonoid to replace lost parts is to take them from another Agonoid. It's noted that this is both good and bad; Basically, there are fewer and fewer Agonoids as time goes by, but in a strange form of natural selection, only the most ruthless of an already ruthless species survive.
  • Compensating for Something:
    • Rimmer's fantasy has him aquire new bodies with increasingly large penises to make up for his own inadequacies in reality. He notes, to his horror, at one point that the insanely large limousine he has implies this about him as well, whereas Lister's choice of an Alleged Car is the opposite way around.
    • Lister's alternate self in Ace's universe, Spanners, reckons that Admiral Tranter is suffering from this, thanks to the enormous desk he has in his enormous office complete with carpet so thick that golf balls get lost in it. Tranter is, in fact, compensating for the fact that his career has sputtered out.
  • Competition Freak:
    • In Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the two Rimmers are left to supervise the reconstruction of the Nova 5 while Lister and the others find the fuel for the ship's Duality Jump. Holly estimates that the reconstruction will take at least two months, but the Rimmers decide to get it finished in a quarter of the time, ready to greet the return of Lister's group. During this time, they keep competing with each other over taxing work regimes that involve less and less sleep, with neither one backing down.
    • When Kryten and Rimmer attempt to restart Red Dwarf's engines, Rimmer naturally decides he wants to complete his part of the work before Kryten. This wouldn't have been so bad but for an unpleasant accident involving about half the Skutters aboard the Red Dwarf.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The audiobook version of Backwards not only removes the segment where The Cat sleeps with the hillbillies' daughter, but omits the entire AR machine western sequence entirely with Rimmer and Kryten instead dying during the hull breach.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • In Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Lister recalls a girl named Susan Warrington making love to him at the Bootle Municipal Golf Course. In Better Than Life, he recounts much the same thing to Rimmer, only with his partner's name changed to "Michelle Fisher".
      • Notable in that Michelle Fisher is the name used in the series' episode Marooned when Lister recounts the same story to Rimmer.
    • During the Rimmers' "supervision" of the reconstruction of the Nova 5, almost all the skutters end up exploding due to being overworked. In Better Than Life, several more appear from out of nowhere.
    • During Better Than Life, Starbug is utterly destroyed by acid rain, with "White Giant" being said to be the only transport ship the Dwarfers have left. However, both Last Human and Backwards feature Starbug as their prime method of transportation, brought back without any explanation.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The man who commits the first act of GELF murder is found guilty, but given no actual punishment, on the grounds that he has to live the rest of his life with the stigma of being the guy cuckolded by his own chair.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Lister, in keeping with his TV counterpart, is pretty smart and adaptive under his slobbish exterior. In the Better Than Life novel, he's stranded alone on Garbage World/Earth, which reacts to a human presence by trying to kill him with bizarre weather like literal acid rain. He narrowly escapes everything thrown at him until he has nowhere to hide... then convinces the Earth to spare him in return for fixing the damage humans have done to it, and spends the next 34 years building up a large and thriving farm with the help of the evolved cockroaches that are now the dominant species on the planet.
    • The Toaster. He manages to kill a polymorph.
    • Rimmer in Last Human. When the chips are down, he pilots an astro-skimmer (which he's never flown before and can barely control, mostly because he's wearing the rigging backwards) in order to save Lister, Kochanski and his son from Lister's sociopathic double.
  • Cruel Mercy: The end of the human / GELF war had mankind unable to kill the GELFs who surrendered, because that would have been murder, so they just left them on Earth, which was turned into a garbage dump.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: The Agonoids in Backwards have increasingly elaborate deaths planned for Lister. Justified in that they found out from Holly that Lister is the very last human in all existence, and want to take their time inflicting as drawn-out and agonising a death as possible.
  • Darker and Edgier: The books in general run with several of the more sci-fi plots the show dropped, and has more of its own. The show is a Sitcom IN SPACE!, and will always snatch itself back down to those roots whenever it starts to stray and become too dramatic. While they remain funny, the books are a sci-fi series with some high stakes (and funny.)
    • The novels retain the absurdist humour, but devotes much of a chapter to Lister having a spectacular mental breakdown in which Drowning My Sorrows is not played for comedy in the least. Rimmer's massive self-image problems and crippling neuroses aren't played for laughs quite so much either, and he's made slightly more rounded as a result.
    • Better Than Life and its effects are notably far more morbid than in the show: it's made quite clear that the game is cripplingly addictive thanks to it tapping directly into the user's subconscious. Most players die a short time after beginning a session, as their bodies simply waste away in the real world due to malnutrition.
    • Backwards compared to Last Human.
  • Deconstruction: The novels deconstruct the premise of a number of their episodes and show how harrowing they could be.
    • Upon discovering he's three million years away from home and totally alone, Lister has a mental breakdown and drinks himself into oblivion until Holly activates Rimmer to keep him company.
    • Rimmer clones himself and the relationship eventually breaks down, just like on the TV version. This time we're treated to Rimmer's thought process regarding why hanging out with yourself generally won't work in the long run, although whether it's Rimmer's personality flaws or the concept itself that doomed the experiment is left open.
    • Better Than Life itself is significantly different as it doesn't actually give the player whatever they wish for like the version in the TV show; rather, it gives the user their deepest subconscious desires. As a result, Lister's reality in particular is based far more on his hidden desires and sentimentalities than the generically extravagant wishes he makes in the TV version of BTL. However, it is mentioned that earlier versions of the game did work as it did in the show, but it wasn't nearly as addictive because people could tell they were in a virtual world as everything came so easily so the immersion was lost.
    • In Backwards we see the concept of a life lived in reverse through Lister's eyes, and it's not nearly as Played for Laughs as the TV version. Most heartbreaking is the reveal that due to everyone's memory running in reverse (bar his), he lived happily with Kochanski until time reversed to the point they met - then she forgot about him entirely.
    • In the same novel we see quite a few things from Ace Rimmer's point of view: while he is undoubtedly insanely courageous and selfless, we also see he's not quite as sure of himself as the Ideal Hero TV version, quite openly dreading meeting another version of himself in case that Rimmer had somehow contributed more to humanity than him.
    • Also from Backwards Kryten/Sheriff Will Carton's hopeless drunkenness isn't played for any laughs, instead being portrayed as an incredibly depressing story of how he's become The Alcoholic as the virus wipes out more of his functions to the point he doesn't remember who he is and is willing to both beg for scraps from/lie to the personifications of his remaining mental processes to get more booze.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: "Better Than Life" is even more immersive in the novels than in the TV series, to the point that the game erases any memory of the player beginning to play and conjures semi-realistic explanations for why they suddenly have everything they ever wanted. As a result, players tend to die of starvation in short order unless somebody is caring for them in reality. The game is treated like a street drug and banned accordingly, with analogous "game heads" and "game dealers".
    • Another example appears in Backwards when Lister, Cat and Rimmer use the VR gaming technology to join Kryten in his head (in a simulation resembling a western) to help him fight off the Apocalypse Virus.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Cat in Last Human. He's a constant presence and gets a lot of focus in the other three novels, but in this one he's very much Out of Focus outside a couple of token moments, and is conveniently not present for most of the important scenes, including the dramatic final confrontation with Lister's evil double and the Rage.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Red Dwarf's captain in the book's canon isn't Hollister, but an American woman named Kirk.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: As the Nova 5 crashes spectacularly, the crew scream at Kryten for what he's done (as in, washed the ship's computers). Kryten somehow believes their cries of shock and horror are attempts to thank him.
  • Dream Within a Dream: False awakening is one of the tricks the "Better Than Life" game uses to keep players trapped. If you realize your new ideal life is a game simulation, it lets you "wake up" into a version of the life you had before you entered the game, only slightly tweaked to be more comfortable than the reality.
  • Earth All Along: Garbage World is eventually revealed to have been Earth that was abandoned, used as a giant waste dump, and eventually broke free of its orbit around the Sun. It seems to have gained some sort of sentience too, as it tries to kill Lister until he makes a deal to try and set things right.
  • Entitled Bastard: Rimmer.
    • When Lister admits that he doesn't actually like him, Rimmer is shocked. Despite acknowledging to himself that he'd never liked Lister either, he can't imagine why Lister wouldn't like him.
    • Despite taking great pleasure in Lister's supposed impending death (and mocking him for it), when he sees the Future Echo of an elderly Lister, he starts begging him to tell if he ever became an officer.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: In Better Than Life, when Lister crashes on a planet which turns out to be Earth, the planet itself seems to be out to get him.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Or at the very least, Total Smeghead Cannot Comprehend Good. Rimmer is baffled by the idea that Lister's deepest held desire is... just to be Happily Married in a nowhere town with two kids.
  • Exact Words: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers ends with Lister vowing to leave the game... but after Christmas. It wouldn't be right to leave his wife and kids, even if they're not real, on Christmas. But in Bedford Falls, it's always Christmas.
    • McIntyre's constant reminder to everyone that "Being a hologram solved all my problems at the start of Infinity'' - having fatally shot himself, he no longer owes money to the mafia because he's dead and technically not the person who owed money, because he's now technically not a person.
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • Bliss, from the first novel. A brown powder substance notable for causing addiction just by looking at it (which made drug busts notoriously difficult), and for its effects. It causes the user to believe they are God, all seeing, all knowing, infinite in power and the creator of all things. Kind of laughable as you couldn't even tie your own shoelaces while high on Bliss. Its high lasted a few minutes, followed by decades of suicidal depression, the only relief from which could be bought with another hit.
    • Better than Life, which was a sort of Lotus-Eater Machine in the books rather than the more innocuous artificial reality video game of the TV series, is treated like an addictive drug. One of its victims is included among a group of drug addicts in a scene in the first novel, and a character selling copies is referred to as a drug dealer.
  • Fantastic Fireworks: Rimmer's Better Than Life fantasy incorporates such a display; first, the fireworks create a portrait of Rimmer and his wife in a pink Valentine's heart. Then the portrait animates, with the Rimmer image winking to the watching crowd and kissing his wife's image. Finally, the image changes into the logo of Rimmer's fantasy corporation. The narration states that this display resulted in a standing ovation that lasted ten whole minutes.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • In the first book, it's stated that holograms are discriminated against and treated as second class citizens because they are seen by the living as a reminder of their own mortality. Holograms often hold equal rights marches. Given the power and computer run time requirements, only the mega rich and mission critical Space Corps personnel are resurrected as holograms. Rimmer had once thrown a stone at one of these marches as a child and one of his early thoughts after his death is that he's now a "dirty deadie".
    • Lister is horrified when he realises that Kryten is essentially a willing slave in his eyes and notes that it's nothing more than a progression from slavery with blacks and housewives.
    • In the second book's chapter detailing the backstory of the GELFs, it's noted that the GELFs are technically human, having been engineered from human chromosomes. However, they are not allowed to vote and killing them is technically not considered murder. This leads to a small uprising, which is swiftly put down. In an extraordinary coincidence, this occurs around the same time as humanity's garbage problem, so the GELFs are all dumped on Earth and left to die.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Kryten is initially immune to Better Than Life's temptations because he's an android, and therefore has no desires of his own beyond a new mop. However, the game is able to distract him by leaving a pile of dirty washing nearby, and Kryten's inability to leave dirty washing unattended traps him too.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Better Than Life, upon learning that Lister is the creator of the universe, Talkie Toaster asks Uber!Holly "If the creator of the universe doesn't like toast, then what's it all about? Why is life so pointless?". Uber!Holly responds with "Nonsense. Life makes perfect sense. It only seems nonsensical to us because we're travelling through it in the wrong direction." This foreshadows the ending of the novel where Lister, after having died, is revived by being buried on an Earth where time runs backwards.
    • In Backwards Kryten is shown to pass his limited leisure time by reading a wild west novel from Starbug's limited library - explaining why, when the other Dwarfers later patch into his mind to help battle Djuhn'keep's virus, it appears as a Western town. Doubles as the explanation the TV series never provided as to why on Io Kryten's psyche would fantasize fighting the Apocalypse virus as a Western.
  • For Want of a Nail: Ace Rimmer's timeline in Backwards, where a small change in Rimmer's childhood leads to him becoming a glamorous test pilot. Lister also becomes a top engineer instead of an unmotivated layabout; it's explained that instead of Rimmer as his bunkmate, Lister ended up sharing with someone who encouraged him to study and realise his full potential. The prologue chapter shows the exact point of divergence, the midlogue shows a school sports day where Rimmer almost wins a race, but falters at the end, and the epilogue shows the same race where Ace intentionally botches it to allow another boy to win.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Lister's funeral at the end of Better Than Life is an astoundingly tasteless affair, due to Rimmer following Lister's will, scrawled out while he was well plastered one evening, to the letter.
  • Gag Penis: In the first novel, the characters are unknowingly in the game Better Than Life. In Rimmer's fantasy he is incredibly wealthy, and continuously buys new bodies to inhabit, allowing him to live as a human once again. Upon acquiring his latest model, he comments that the penis "still isn't big enough". His butler informs him that any larger and he'll have severe problems with balance.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: When Lister finds himself on Garbage World, the planet tries to kill him in several sadistic ways. Turns out he's on Earth.
  • Gender Flip:
    • Captain Hollister is a woman in the novels (and named Kirk), although her role (and even most of her dialogue) remain identical to that of the male Captain Hollister in the TV version.
    • In a particularly Mind Screw version of this trope, Holly's Gender Flip from the TV series doesn't take place in the novels, even though the male Holly takes on a few of the female Holly's story lines from the TV show (such as the IQ upgrade). Gets especially weird if you're listening to the audio book, hearing Chris Barrie's pretty decent impression of Norman Lovett saying lines you're used to hearing from Hattie Hayridge...
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: In Better Than Life, the characters are stuck in a virtual reality simulation of their greatest fantasies. At first they are alerted to their situation by Kryten signalling them from outside, then entering the game himself, which wouldn't qualify as this trope. However, when they decide to leave they wake up on Red Dwarf unharmed by the weeks they have spent effectively comatose, Lister notices that toast always lands face up when dropped, and finally three people are discovered alive and in stasis; Lister's crush Kochanski, his drinking buddy Petersen, and Rimmer's living self. Lister realizes that things are still perfect, and that they are therefore still in the game. They wake up for real, and find they are in horrible shape from their experience.
  • The Hero Dies: Lister has a fatal heart attack at the end of Better Than Life. Fortunately, the passage of time on Backwards Earth can fix this.
  • Heroic Sacrifice / Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • Rimmer of all people gets two of them at the end of Last Human. The first is rescuing his crewmates and his son from Lister's other self, who shoots out his light bee. The second is using the Oblivion virus to destroy The Rage.
    • Ace in Backwards, saving Lister from the Agonoid Pizzak'Rapp by jettisoning them both into space.
  • Hollywood Evolution: One chapter of Better Than Life details how Polymorphs evolved from GELFs who managed to survive not only the poisonous atmosphere of Garbage World, but the endless winter as the planet floated through space, bereft of a sun. Considering the GELFs had each been genetically engineered to serve one purpose only, it seems incredible that they were able to accomplish this.
  • Hope Spot: Just as Rimmer's life in BTL starts going completely to crud, his Hot-Blooded ex-wife (who'd been engaged to his brother, Frank), visits him and explains that she loves him. She's always loved him, and has now had personality surgery to make herself much nicer. Just as things start looking up, Rimmer's body is repossessed.
  • Humiliation Conga: The gazpacho soup incident gets upgraded from the TV show's simple social gaff to the last insult of an already deeply embarrassing night for Rimmer. Having been invited to the captain's table, Rimmer tries hiring a date from an escort agency, even spending all his savings in the effort. Then the woman, and the agency itself, vanish without a trace, taking Rimmer's money with them, and leaving him to sit through the meal unable to explain what happened without looking like a fool (he panics and claims his date was killed in a traffic accident). Then the soup comes along. No wonder he considered it the single worst night of his life...
  • Ignored Epiphany: Rimmer momentarily wonders if spending all his free time in stasis on account of having nothing better to do is the reason he's got nothing to do and no-one to do it with... and then decides that friends aren't worth the hassle.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Lister pegs this as being Rimmer's greatest desire, after a look over at his fantasies - that he wants to be adored. Rimmer later notes with some horror that every woman in his fantasy, from his ex-wife to his second to his mass of adoring fangirls, are all women he knew in life.
  • I Reject Your Reality: When Lister bluntly, but not rudely, tells Rimmer he can't stand the man, Rimmer is aghast that Lister doesn't like him. Rimmer had thought they were friends (even though he doesn't like Lister), and decides that what Lister has said cannot be true. Also applies with his "disguise" as Toddhunter. Even though Lister knows it's him, and Rimmer knows he knows, Rimmer still cannot, even when in a screaming match with himself, admit that he was in a brothel.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Rimmer, watching his double sneaking mints while (badly) concealing it from Rimmer's view, declares him psychologically mean and tight-fisted, even as Rimmer is doing the exact same thing (and naturally, the duplicate Rimmer is thinking the same as him).
  • It's All About Me: The Cat is convinced he's the center of the universe, to the point where his Better Than Life fantasy doesn't even bother providing an explanation for how he attained everything he's ever wanted, since he believes he "deserves" it all.
  • Kick the Dog: When he's in Better Than Life but unaware of it, Rimmer notes at one point he intends to buy Lister's hometown of Bedford Falls to turn into a maggot farm. Because he can.
  • Kids Driving Cars: In the final section of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Lister's son Bexley can drive; apparently everyone in town thinks this is "funny" and the local cop doesn't do anything about it on the grounds that Bexley is a better driver than he is. Bexley is fifteen months old. Finally realising how ridiculous this is is part of what finally clues Lister in to the fact that he's actually playing Better Than Life.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Rimmer, of course, doesn't figure this out with regards to his astronavigation exams and dreams of becoming an officer. The novels add a bit of Willy Loman-esque tragedy to this by implying that he's actually pretty good at graphic design and could have been happy and successful if he'd just realised this instead of devoting himself full-throttle to the Space Corps.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The Omnibus edition of the first two books includes a new ending for Better Than Life, some changes of Take Thats towards Kevin Keegan and Brian Kidd in Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, a copy of the original script for The End, a radio script for an episode of Spiritual Predecessor Dave Hollins: Space Cadet and a photocopy of the beermat that the original concept for Red Dwarf was written on.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine:
    • "Better Than Life" is a Virtual Reality Game that can make all your deepest fantasies come true. The game is almost impossible to leave, because in order to leave, somebody has to not only realise they're in the game, but also want to leave. As a result, the person's real-life body will eventually waste away and die. The first novel ends with Lister having to make the decision whether to stay in the simulation or travelling back to an Earth six million years in the future where he may well be the last human as he understands it. Talk about a Downer Ending. The second novel reveals that the Lotus Eater Machine digs deep into their psyche, granting their deepest desires. The Cat is so vain and self-absorbed that he lives in a golden castle with a milk moat, being waited on by six-foot topless Valkyries - this finally convinces the others that they cannot accept this as reality. Kryten can come and go freely as he has no hopes, dreams, or desires besides getting a new squeezy-mop - but the game takes advantage of his servility and gives him plenty of cleaning chores to keep him happy. For Lister, all he wants is to be happily married with a family - which is a perfectly healthy desire which the game easily fulfils. Rimmer however utterly loathes himself, and BTL builds him up with a handsome new body, vast wealth and fame, screaming fangirls and a fabulously beautiful (but shallow and spoilt) wife, for the sole purpose of tearing it away - eventually dumping his consciousness in a cheap hooker and very nearly being pimped out. And then, when he goes looking for the others to escape, it destroys their lives too, as his subconscious simply doesn't like other people being happy either.
    • Cyberia is essentially the opposite. Prisoners are aware of the simulation and each one of them is forced to live in a Self-Inflicted Hell.
  • Mind Prison: Cyberia, in Last Human. Essentially a Penal Colony for those found guilty of crimes against the GELF State, inmates spend their sentences in virtual reality scenarios tailored to their personalities: while their bodies float endlessly in a huge suspension lake, their minds are trapped in worlds designed to be as boring, uncomfortable, irritating and depressing as possible... as Lister discovers. As it turns out, the whole thing's part of a scam: the GELF State needs explicitly innocent volunteers in order to create a gestalt entity for their terraforming program, and have arranged a system in which they can be convicted of imaginary crimes and coerced into signing away their lives. Faced with a choice between sacrificing themselves and going back to Cyberia, most inmates agree to participate.
  • Mind Screw: Backwards. Most obvious when it comes to Kryten's accidentally murdering one of the hillbillies. Due to not grasping how the universe worked (and his innate desire to help humans) he thinks he's trying to help the hillbilly remove an axe from his chest until it leaps into his hands: played forward it becomes obvious he's smashed it into the yokel's chest by accident and in trying to help he's only forcing it deeper.
  • The Most Dangerous Video Game: The VR game "Better Than Life", while it can't directly kill you, is so immersive and addictive that players are unable to take care of their basic needs and die without an external caretaker. The book also describes incidents where the characters would wander into dangerous situations and injure themselves without realizing it while acting out actions in the game.
    • In Backwards, the VR tech the crew use to join Kryten in his head to fight the Apocalypse Virus (in the form of the demonic cowboy "Apocalypse Boys") turns into this when the virus spreads into the VR game system itself- they lose the special skills that allowed them to hypothetically stand up to the virus, become able to feel actual pain as they're mutilated (despite remaining unable to die), and worst of all, can't get out any more until Kryten destroys the virus. When the virus spreads from the game systems to the hologram systems, Rimmer is melted into a puddle of boiling flesh, and dies once the simulation ends. Kryten is gunned down by the Apocalypse Boys in the act of neutralising the virus and is also completely burned out in the real world.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: In the Cat's Better than Life fantasy, he has an epic rock band to play his "I'm Gonna Eat You" song at dinner.
  • Name's the Same: Invoked; in Backwards, Admiral Tranter eventually learns that his career has stalled because he shares the same name as another admiral who is — to put it bluntly — a colossal fuck-up, but owing to a clerical error, the competent Tranter's successes are credited to the incompetent one (and the incompetent one's failures to the competent one), resulting in the incompetent one rising through the ranks while Admiral Tranter is eventually Reassigned to Antarctica. It has a happy ending, however; when the competent Tranter finally has enough and quits, due to the same error he receives full pay throughout his retirement while the incompetent one sees his wages drastically slashed. And because the incompetent one has been so bewildered by his undeserved elevation through the ranks he just assumes he's been found out and punished accordingly, so never challenges it.
  • Noodle Incident: The first novel clarifies Rimmer's "spasm", idly mentioned in the show's first episode: While procrastinating for one of his exams, Rimmer got his hands on some amphetamines, and the spasm was the result.
  • Oedipus Complex: Rimmer's second wife in his Better Than Life fantasy is a de-aged version of his own mother. He's horribly Squicked out by it once he works it out.
  • Obsessed Are the Listmakers: The first novel described Arnold Rimmer doing this repeatedly when he tried to take the officers' exams: he would meticulously create his study plan in such great detail that he ended up spending most of his time on it, then had to revise it for the time left, with the same effects until he had no time left for the actual studying.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: During the backstory for the GELFs in Better Than Life, it's mentioned that each sport had specific athletes created for each sport, with even further specialised players for various positions in team sports. Scotland fielded a goalkeeper in the 2222 football world cup who was a large oblong of flesh whose dimensions were the exact same as the goal, making it impossible to score against them. Hilariously, they somehow failed to progress to the second round of the tournament. The rules of the tournament had to be changed after this to allow limitations on what could be allowed.
  • Off with His Head!: Inside the western simulation, Lister gets decapitated by a tomahawk. Because the crew can't die inside an AR simulation, Lister survives this.
  • Only Sane Man: The Toaster tries to be this when the other members of the crew have had various emotions sucked away by the Polymorph. Unluckily for him, Kryten has lost his guilt, and as the Toaster had been spectacularly condescending towards him earlier, Kryten just jams him into the waste disposal unit, crushing him to bits.
  • Other Me Annoys Me:
    • In the first book, Rimmer's relationship with his own copy ends up completely breaking down, partly due to his tendency to be ultra-competitive with himself, but also (in another element expanded on from the TV version) because Rimmer has changed over the time he's spent with Lister since his activation compared with the copy who is a "fresh" version of Rimmer's original personality disc, making them no longer perfect copies of each other.
    • Rimmer and Ace, naturally, in Backwards. Interestingly we go into Ace's head a little on the subject: where the TV version has Ace effortlessly rise above Rimmer's criticism, here he's inwardly appalled at Rimmer's cowardice and pettiness, wondering what on Earth happened in the past that produced such a pathetic alternate version of himself.
  • Parental Incest: In his fantasy in Better Than Life, Rimmer divorces his unbearable (and unfaithful) first wife and remarries... a woman he later (painfully) realises is a younger version of his mother. And it's hinted they did the deed at least once before the wedding. Made marginally less squicky in that "Helen" wasn't actually Rimmer's mother- just an original character the game made based on her (the same way the woman Rimmer's first wife Juanita was based on wasn't Brazilian in real life, but French).
  • Precision F-Strike: A superintelligent Holly turns himself off after realizing he's got minutes to live, only briefly turning himself back on to call Talkie Toaster a bastard.
  • Pseudolympics: Mention is made of version of the Olympics where drugs were legal and later a separate version for Genetically Engineered Life Forms (GELFs) who were specifically engineered to excel at a particular sport.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The droids Lister uses to help him assault the Cyberia complex consist of a variety of droids in various states of disprepair. Some of them are more or less intact, but some are missing limbs, one has no head, another is only a pair of legs and one is even just a hand.
  • Read the Fine Print: Crosses over with Unreadable Disclaimer. At the start of the first novel the reason George McIntyre is so in debt to the Ganymede mafia is because there was a clause in the contract he signed to take out a loan charging him an interest rate way, way more than the original loan. Said clause was concealed in a microdot in the dot of a letter i in the fine print.
  • The Resenter: Rimmer, pathologically so. His brother Frank, first and foremost, which is why Rimmer's first wife in Better Than Life is Frank's actual wife. But also of everyone else, Lister included. Shortly before he dies, Rimmer plans to get Lister's sentence commuted not because he thinks Lister is innocent, or even cares about Lister's opinion. He just doesn't want Lister having four years advantage over him.
  • Retcon: "Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers" has Rimmer's Better Than Life fantasy involve him swapping bodies. "Better Than Life" changes this to him having invented the solidgram body. The Omnibus edition of the first two books did some rewriting so the solidgram explanation is the one used throughout.
  • Rewind Gag: At the end of the novel Better Than Life, Lister finds himself in an alternate universe where time runs backward. Initially it's played more for drama than gags, both because Lister has no idea what's going on at first and because Lister had just died, and his comrades stuck him in the backwards universe so he would undie and recover from the other traumas the novel had inflicted, but the sequel, Backwards develops the comedic possibilities more.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Rimmer's various freak outs and attempts to relax and / or plan his revision in the lead up to his exams are usually what cause him to never be able to actually revise. To the point where he'll regularly end up with the requirement of fitting several months of revision into a single day.
  • Robosexual: Prostitutes on Mimas are robots. Customers can mix and match parts for a custom lay. Boy and sheep droids are also available.
  • Running Gag: Talkie Toaster's name being spelled out Talkie Toaster (TM) (patent applied for), and the mention of it being a whole $£19.99, with tax.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell:
    • Like the TV episode it was adapted from, the novel Better Than Life sees Rimmer's deep-seated self-hatred destroy the fantasy world he's built for himself and then go on to destroy his crewmates' fantasies... only here it's even worse - he becomes the world's richest man married to the world's No.1 model/actress (a volcanic nymphomaniac diva who bullies, humiliates and frequently cheats on him), divorces her only for her to take up with his brother Frank, marries a woman who turns out to be a younger version of his mother, loses his fortune overnight and then his body, winds up in debtor's prison as a soundwave, escapes only to end up in the body of a hooker whilst his body's taken over by a unhinged cop-killer, and is forced to go on the run with him and his equally murderous, psychopathic brother, both of whom make him essentially their domestic slave/punching bag and eventually try to pimp him out before he finally gets away.
    • The Cyberia prison colony in Last Human is essentially the polar opposite of Better Than Life. Prisoners are forced to serve their terms in their own personal hell. Lister ends up living in a dump of an apartment where his neighbours play drum solos and James Last and everywhere he goes he sees a Kochanski lookalike wrapped around a beefy sailor type.
  • Sequel Hook: Backwards ends on one. Whether Rob Grant gets around to writing it is another story.
  • Shoot Your Mate: The Cat tries to threaten D'Juhn Keep with a bazookoid when he gets on board Starbug. D'Juhn just laughs, since he's Made of Iron and shooting him with a bazookoid would essentially be Shooting Superman. However, he manages to fluster the Agonoid by turning the bazookoid on Lister, thereby robbing him of the torture and kill he so desperately requires.
  • Something Nauts: The explorers of humanity's early, disappointing, slower-than-light interstellar voyages are referred to as "stellarnauts".
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Infinity and BTL both tend towards cynicism. The chapter on the genesis of the GELFs in BTL really plumbs the depths of cynicism when it puts forward the premise that human beings are fundamentally broken because they're genetically predisposed to disagree with each other, due to the genetic flaw causing all human beings to assume all other human beings are mad. The only time they can agree with each other is when they are at war with each other. When a team of geneticists discover this flaw in human DNA they're so excited that they decide to go out for a meal to celebrate... only they couldn't agree on what kind of meal to go out for, fell to squabbling and never published their results (with which nobody would have agreed anyway).
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Talkie Toaster. After helping the crew to escape a black hole (using information the super-intelligent Holly shared with him), he becomes insufferably arrogant, talking down to Kryten especially (who starts having uncharacteristic fantasies about attacking the Toaster with a chainsaw).
  • The Sociopath:
    • Lister's double in Last Human.
    • The Agonoids in Backwards are a whole race of sociopaths.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Admiral Tranter is an aversion. Firing his pistol in the close confines of his tiled bathroom, results in bleeding from his ears.
  • Spaceship Slingshot Stunt;
    • In Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the Red Dwarf does this around a planet in order to turn back towards Earth without spending 3 million years decelerating.
    • In Better than Life, Lister wants to do this around an Unrealistic Black Hole in order to accelerate over the speed of light and tow Earth back to the solar system.
    • In Backwards, the crew are stranded on Backwards Earth and have to wait ten years until When the Planets Align so Starbucks can slingshot around them and go through the Omni Zone and back into their own universe.
  • Took a Level in Kindness / Took a Level in Jerkass: Rimmer manages both of these going from Better Than Life into Last Human and Backwards (two different continuities) in a deliberate case of Depending on the Writer.
    • In Last Human he's the former. He's notably less adversarial with his crewmates, only really jawing with them in segments lifted directly from the series (the famous red alert scene, for example) and is even actually courteous at points. While he doesn't get on with Kochanski, it's only because she doesn't fit his idea of how an officer should act rather than genuine dislike. In the novel's ending he's even able to man up and save the crew - including his son - from both Lister's double and The Rage, at the cost of his own life.
    • In Backwards he's the latter. Seemingly reverting to type from the ending of Better Than Life (where he was genuinely happy to have Lister resurrected and even arranged most of it himself) he spends virtually the entire novel sniping and complaining with his crewmates, even before Ace shows up. At one point he's even all too happy to abandon Lister in the backwards universe when he doesn't show for their meeting.
  • Tragic Dream: Lister's aim of getting Kochanski back, particularly when Rimmer discovers the photo frame in the Garbage World part. Though the ending of Better Than Life and Last Human renders it not so tragic after all...
  • Unconventional Formatting: In Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, a lengthy elevator ride down through Red Dwarf's cargo levels is conveyed by repeating the word "down" almost every other line, and finally it appears written as "D - o - w - n", with each letter on a separate line.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Starbug is the primary vessel in both Last Human and Backwards, despite the ship being destroyed beyond repair in Better Than Life, which explicitly identified White Giant as the only surviving shuttlecraft.
  • Unfortunate Names: The Agonoids in Backwards have been given intentionally insulting names by their human creators. Examples include M'Aiden Ty One (Made In Taiwan), D'Juhn Keep (Junk Heap), Pizzak Rapp (Piece Of Crap) and Chi Panastee (Cheap And Nasty).
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Zig-zagged with the black hole in Better Than Life. it pulls in objects from a solar system away, and in escaping the event horizon, the Dwarfers discover that that thirty-four years have passed for the rest of the universe.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • Played straight in Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers: when the Dwarfers have linked themselves into the Game, Rimmer's subconscious constructs a fantasy wherein his father (retrieved via time travel technology that Rimmer's company had developed) was his personal limo driver who was "so proud" of his son. He is introduced in the book after Rimmer has been informed that his entire life is just a fantasy; he is suitably embarrassed.
    • Inverted in Last Human; Rimmer has to face the extreme disappointment of a son who had been told extravagant lies about his father's heroism by his mother. He eventually redeems himself in his son's eyes, resulting in him finally letting go of all of his neuroses.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?:
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the crew spend a great deal of time repairing the Nova 5 and mining thorium to fuel its duality jump drive, in order to return to Earth. After the crew escape the Game in Better Than Life, no one even mentions the fact that they have a ship capable of interstellar travel in the docking bay - even when Red Dwarf faces obliteration by an oncoming planet.
    • There is a scene where Holly, whose IQ has been boosted to over twelve thousand, deduces that Lister is the creator of the universe. This is never mentioned again.note 
    • In Last Human, several vials of the Luck virus are involved towards the end...and one vial of broccoli, which Kochanski picks up because it feels important (while under the effects of the Luck virus). This vial is never mentioned again, unless it means to imply that the crew and new human race are stuck living on the vegetable forever.
  • Would Rather Suffer: Lister is initially so against the idea of not going into stasis that he claims he'd rather drink a pint of his own diarrhea than hang around Rimmer - or a pint of someone else's, every hour, on the hour, for the next fifty years.
  • Wretched Hive: Mimas. It's implied that the place is such a shithole that Lister spends any money he makes on sangria.
    • Lister is shown trying to very carefully ignore a fatal fight between two pimps occurring right outside his Taxi Hopper in Mimas' Red Light District, AKA "Shagtown".


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