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Infinity welcomes careful drivers - The Ex-Communicator

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November 24th, 2008

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02:56 pm - Infinity welcomes careful drivers
On audio I'm listening to the Red Dwarf novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers read by Chris Barrie. This was written after the first TV series was broadcast, but it isn't a simple novelisation. It fills in quite a lot of detail of Lister's life immediately before joining Red Dwarf, it provides some rough SF sensibility (or handwaving) to prop up the plot, and it gives you some insight into the heads of the characters, particularly poor tortured Rimmer. It's probably not that great a novel to read on paper, because you'd miss out on the lively characterisation by the delightful actors.

However it's great fun as an audio for one reason - Chris Barrie is a brilliant voice artist. That was his job before Red Dwarf - he did voice impersonations of politicians for Spitting Image (he was their Ronald Reagan I think among others). He does superb renditions of all the characters as played by the other actors: Holly, Cat, Kryten, Lister and Rimmer (in a different voice from his narrator-voice). It's most impressive in the second half, which corresponds to the TV series. The characters frequently have rapid arguments and discussions and he pops really impressively between all the voices, including the two versions of Rimmer screaming at each other.

So why listen to this rather than re-watch the TV show? Well, partly for me because I like listening to audio, and it fits in with other things I have to do. And secondly because you get the more developed plotting and intimate characterisation of the novel, without losing the lively and endearing personalities of the voices.

Apparently Barrie's also done an audio of the second novel, Better Than Life though they don't offer this (yet) on audible.co.uk - I'll email and request it, like I did for Green Mars.

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:November 24th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
I quite like the first two Red Dwarf books, which have a coherent linear narrative and an appealing bleakness which they never quite manage to convey in the TV series. The Grant/Naylor 'alternate third books' are, respectively, drearily sentimental and altogether *too* bleak (even for me). Grant's book reminds me a bit of "Mostly Harmless" by Douglas Adams in that he seems a bit fed up with the characters and setting and is trying to resolve things by being as nasty as possible to them.
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Date:November 24th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks for letting me know. I probably won't get those two. Also (I investigated) they are read by Craig Charles and Grant, so they won't have the brilliant voice work. Honestly it makes the audio very special. I'll definitely download Better Than Life.
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Date:November 24th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
I shall have to see if I can find this.

How long did it take you to listen to 'Green Mars'? Those are huge books to read, let alone listen to, and frankly (ha!) I gave up on 'Red Mars' 3/4 way through. The only person I liked was Nadia, and the politics bored me silly.

Edited at 2008-11-24 08:29 pm (UTC)
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Date:November 24th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
It took ages, about six weeks from start to finish. I wouldn't bother if you didn't finish Red Mars, because it is very much in the same vein - and even more politics. I am fairly forgiving of audio - I like the experience. Hsve you listened to any of the Discworld stories?
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Date:November 24th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
No; just read the books. I think our library does have the audios though.
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Date:November 25th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
Oh! Oh! You should listen to the cast commentary on the season 5 DVD. Craig Charles was ill and couldn't attend the recording, so was filled in by Chris Barrie impersonating him... scarily well.

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