Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Audiobook Un-Review: Red Dwarf: Better Than Life

Red Dwarf: Better Than Life
Its amazing how a good audiobook has the power to block out real life. I listened to 'Better Than Life' over two days at work and I genuinely cannot remember a single image or conversion at all from those days. These two days are awash with Red Dwarf. It was almost like the audiobook was better than my actual life - how ironic.

'Red Dwarf: Better Than Life' is based on a novel of the same name, greatly expanding on the events in the Red Dwarf television episodes; Better than life, Backwards, Marooned, Polymorph and White Hole, and filling is time gaps between the episodes. There is a really nice juxtaposition between the familiar events and lines from the series, which prompts a knowing smile from the listener, and the new material, which make up the majority of the events in the audiobook, and provides the excitement/escapism that any good science fiction book would. As a huge fan of the television series, it is both entertaining and gratifying to learn more about these characters, and I enjoy the series more now I know more back story.

Chris Barrie/Arnold J. Rimmer

The actor Chris Barrie, who plays Arnold J. Rimmer in the television series, is the narrator of the audiobook, and acts all of the characters as fully as if there were ten actors in the room. It is apparent from watching this and his other television series (particularly Red Dward smeg ups and Spitting Image) that Barrie is fantastic at impressions and voice acting, but I am not at all exaggerating when I say that his voice acting is infinitely better than the real actors who play Lister, Cat and Kryton. He uses the essence and soul of the performances of the other three actors in the television series, but he is by far the best actor, and his impressions of them are uncanny. I would still happily binge watch the television series, but really, without the constraints of production and money, this is just...better.

I have also listened to the predecessor of this audiobook, 'Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers', which details the events that led Lister onto the Red Dwarf ship in the first place, and both are great. We get a purer, more defined, more realistic version of each of the four main characters; the kindness and likeability of Lister, the neuroses and desperation of Rimmer, the animalistic madness of Cat and the shame and fear of Kryton - and this realism actually makes the funny bits even funnier, because we know the gang so much better. The audiobook adds a poignancy to the humour, particularly the dire future that Lister is really facing, and the life he magic's himself in the game 'Better Than Life' is so so sad. On the other hand it is worth a listen if only to see Rimmer's mind at work in the game, the mad masochistic bastard that he is.

Lister's Version of Better Than Life
Listen to this audiobook if: you think that you watch too much television or you wish you read more books (this definitely extols the virtues of books over the simplification of television)/you already love the characters of Red Dwarf/you find audiobooks difficult to 'get in to'/you like comedic sci-fi and fantasy/your recent reads have lacked heart and soul.

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