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

“Your explanation for anything slightly odd is aliens,’ said Lister. ‘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.”
~Grant Naylor, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

Plot summary

“When Lister got drunk, he really got drunk! After celebrating his birthday with a Monopoly-board pub crawl around London, he came to in a burger bar on one of Saturns [sic!] moons, wearing a lady’s pink crimplene hat and a pair of yellow fishing waders, with no money and a passport in the name of ‘Emily Berkenstein’.

Joining the Space Corps seemed a good idea. Red Dwarf, a clapped out spaceship, was bound for Earth. It never made it, leaving Lister as the last remaining member of the human race, three million light years from Earth, with only a dead man, a senile computer, and a highly evolved cat for company. They begin their journey home. On the way, they’ll break the light barrier. They’ll meet Einstein, Archimedes, God, and Norman Wisdom…and discover an alternative plane of reality.” More on Goodreads

On Rob Grant & Doug Naylor

“Douglas R. Naylor is a British comedy writer, science fiction writer, director and television producer. He is best known as half of the writing team of the lnog-running BBC sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf (1988-2009), which is a worldwide cult hit.

Cover for Red Dwarf - Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers. Photo: RA.AZ (CC BY 2.0)
Cover for Red Dwarf – Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers. Photo: RA.AZ (CC BY 2.0)

The collaborations between Grant and Naylor have often used the pseudonym Grant Naylor.

However sometime between the airing of sixth series of Red Dwarf in 1993, and the writing of the seventh series in 1996, Rob Grant ended his partnership with Naylor after revealing he was tired of it and of his intentions to quit and pursue other projects. The pair announced their professional split and cited creative and professional differences, along with Grant’s desire to move onto new shows.” More on Goodreads

Key concepts
  • Slapstick sci-fi
  • Socially “interesting” characters
  • Metamorphosis of cathood and the absurd length of vanity

Okay, cat persons, your day has come. I do this reluctantly but a promise is a promise. In connection with the review on Simak‘s novel City, I made the public announcement to surprise you cat people at some point. This day is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and most likely will never happen again.

Let me tell you, listening to the audio book Red Dwarf – Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers is a hilarious and weird experience. If you are into slapstick comedy, this story is for you. And if you are interested in the evolution of cats, then in that case as well the book is especially for you. The audio book is dramatized in the best of ways and special nuance is placed on the accents of the characters, music and other tiny details. I think the only proper existence for the story is in an audio book, a plain book would be pointless.

In the latter half of the story, as time has progressed, the main characters encounter a future cat, a talking creature. The peculiar habits of getting dressed and of clothing in general for the Cat character is a funny read. At the end, although the physical features of the cats have changed, their personality has not undergone major changes and they still do the things cats generally do.

The human characters are not less funny than the Cat. Arnold Rimmer, the human/hologram, is a selfish, socially challenged and an utmost unbearable person. You know, that person who is never wrong and is hardly ever considerate of other persons. Dave Lister, on the other hand, is literally the last human in the known universe. He seems to incorporate features of a simultaneously lucky and unlucky character in one package, and one is clueless whether it was the luck or the misfortune that got him wherever he is.

As anyone who has ever used the Internet knows, cats are everything. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 36 U.S. million [sic!] households sport a feline companion. Where dogs are blindly loyal, a cat’s ambivalence speaks of alien wisdom [sic!].

That’s likely why there are so many great cats in sci-fi and fantasy: if your cat one day sat up and calmly informed you that it was a mystical being on a quest to save the world, you’d probably buy it, no problem.” (Somers 2016)

Cat related quotes on Goodreads

Never try to outstubborn a cat.” ~Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Curiosity killed the cat,” Fesgao remarked, his dark eyes unreadable.
Aly rolled her eyes. Why did everyone say that to her? “People always forget the rest of the saying,” she complained. “‘And satisfaction brought it back.” ~Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Choice

What have you done to my cat?” Magnus demanded… “You drank his blood, didn’t you? You said you weren’t hungry!”
Simon was indignant. “I did not drink his blood. He’s fine!” He poked the Chairman in the stomach. The cat yawned. “Second, you asked me if I was hungry when you were ordering pizza, so I said no, because I can’t eat pizza. I was being polite.”
“That doesn’t get you the right to eat my cat.”
“Your cat is fine!” Simon reached to pick up the tabby, who jumped indignantly to his feet and stalked off the table. “See?”
“Whatever.” ~Cassandra Clare, City of Lost Souls

More information
– Sophie Brown: Fantastic Cats in Sci-fi & Fantasy, published in the Wired on 1 April 2011, link retrieved on 27 February 2017 (Red Dwarf mentioned at the end of the article)
– Jason Krell: The Ultimate Guide to Evil Cats in Science Fiction and Fantasy, published in io9. we come from the future on 23 October 2013, link retrieved on 27 February 2017
– Jeff Somers: The 25 Best Cats in Sci-Fi & Fantasy, published in the Barnes&Noble Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog on 29 October 2016, link retrieved on 27 February 2017

“It wasn’t a beautiful face. But it was a nice face. It wasn’t a face that could launch a thousand ships. Maybe two ships and a small yacht. That was, until she smiled. When she smiled, her eyes lit up like a pinball machine when you win a bonus game. And she smiled a lot.”
~Grant Naylor, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers


Author: fictivestina

Hey, I'm a native Helsinkian but a cosmopolitan at heart :) Outdoors, reading, writing and cultural attractions are my passion. Hiking in Lapland cannot be competed with!

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