David Lister, the very last member of the human race is on trial at the Forum of Justice on the Desert Moon of Aranguu 12 for breaching Gelf Law, having been found guilty of crimes against the United Republic of Engineered Life Forms and is sentenced to 18 years in the penal colony known as Cyberia, where he will live out his sentence in his very own cybernetic hell.
Meanwhile, an entirely different David Lister, currently inhabiting the ship to surface mining vessel, Starbug emerges from the Deep Sleep Unit only to discover a mathematical error during a return trip through a black hole, has landed him and his fellow crewmates in an alternate universe.
The mishap occurred while traversing the Omni-zone at the centre of the black hole, which serves as a hub, connecting all possible realities, and instead of emerging into their own timeline they have encountered a dimension in which the entire crew of Starbug has been wiped out, all except Lister, who has gone missing.
Persuaded to remain in the alternate universe in search of his doppelganger, Lister soon discovers that his other self has been wrongly imprisoned in Cyberia for crimes that he hasn’t yet committed and stages a prison break in a righteous bid to free him.
Unfortunately, Lister’s honourable attempt to fight the injustice of his counterpart’s prison sentence has disastrous ramifications, not just for himself or for the entire Red Dwarf crew, but also for the potential survival of the human race.
“I drink, I smoke, I have curry sauce for breakfast? Raw onions on my cereal? I sound like some barely human, grossed-out slime ball.” – Dave Lister. (p26)
Rimmer: “Step up to red alert.”
Kryten: “Are you absolutely sure, Sir? It will mean changing the bulb.”
Last Human is Doug Naylor’s very first solo Red Dwarf novel, without his writing partner Rob Grant, and his inexperience is glaringly obvious. It is also agonizingly clear that Rob Grant is the comedian and the true ideas-man of the duo, providing the signature jokes that made Red Dwarf one of the very best BBC sitcoms in existence.
Last Human offers up a very difficult to comprehend plot with some impossible to read, let alone pronounce, dialogue and character names, that when coupled with the lack of amusing Red Dwarf satire, results in a dull, almost forgettable novel that only die-hard fans of the TV series could relate to.
I also discovered an error in the text that states that ‘Kryten is a Series 3000 Mechanoid’ on page 48, while page 77 states that he is a ‘Series 4000 Mechanoid’. An irrelevant boop I must confess, however the lack of attention to detail rather grates on my nerves.
Sadly, at 3 out of 5 stars, Last Human is a rather disappointing attempt at a Red Dwarf novel and only for those true fans, loyal to all things ‘Dwarf’. Those interested however, can check Last Human out over at Amazon.co.uk here.
Red Dwarf: Omnibus
Backwards by Rob Grant