One of my favorite shows is the British Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf. What? You haven’t heard of Red Dwarf yet? OK, go watch this clip showing three of the main characters and then come back to this blog.
Done? Good let’s continue.
Long story short, Red Dwarf is a show about the last human left alive (Lister, the guy trying to teach the android Kryten how to lie) who is marooned in space on a mining vessel called the Red Dwarf. His companions are a life form that evolved from his cat (the snazzy looking guy who they called over), the hologram of Lister’s dead bunkmate called Arnold J Rimmer (he’s a smeghead) and an insane artificial intelligence that runs the ship called Holly. The crew is attempting to return to Earth after being lost in space for three-million years (there is a very good reason for this in the pilot episode called “The End).
Being one of my favorite shows and a collector of resource books, I had to pick up the two volume set called Total Immersion: The Comprehensive Unauthorized Red Dwarf Encyclopedia written by Paul C. Giachetti. These two book were published by Hasslein Books in 2014 and are very, very detailed. The title of the books is a reference to the Total Immersion artificial reality video game that the crew finds and uses in several episodes. Think a holodeck but you have to wear special VR goggles and equipment. Players get plugged into a virtual world for various roleplaying in realistic environments. Let’s just say the title is very appropriate for these two encyclopedias. The entries cover everything from the various TV series (including both American pilots), novels, resource books, roleplaying games, smegazines (magazines), official websites, DVD extras and more. I’m talking the level that would normally be seen in a fan Wikipedia. If a label was on a container in a scene, that information will be found in these books. Was there a difference between the close captioning and the script on the spelling of a name? It has been documented here. With the show being British there were some comments and jokes that I didn’t get at first. Total Immersion explained the reference to me and let me in on the joke. Everything is referenced to the source(s) that the entry came from. Here is an example.
This guide was at the bottom of every page that did not contain the art found in the book. This helped document where certain information came from. This also lead to my only snag in the book. Every once in a while an entry had a reference that wasn’t listed in the bottom guide. For example in the photo above one of the entries is listed as coming from “X-APR”. The “X” is for the miscellaneous category, but the code of “APR” is not defined. There isn’t even an APR in the other categories. This is something I could forgive because it was very rare. These two publications are the type of books that I would love to write. Detailed an interesting without being overly burdensome on a subject that I just can’t get enough of.
Another interesting feature of this two volume set is the artwork. The covers are based upon the panels seen on the side of the Red Dwarf vessel. Internally there is a bunch of black and white artwork drawn by Pat Carbajal. It wasn’t just the main characters and devices, there were some drawings of characters that only made small, but memorable, appearances. A lot of these were very detailed and impressive. Here is an example I randomly pulled from the books.
The back of the second book was an appendix which contained a categorized index. If you are looking for a list of inmates in “the tank”, you will find it here. Locations by address, yes that is here as well. Listed is all entries related to “Starbug”. While everything is listed alphabetically, it would have been helpful to give page numbers here. But I did find this to be a helpful section when trying to look up some of the details.
It is my fondest hope that there will be an updated volume to these books as we’ve been blessed with additional seasons of Red Dwarf. Until then, these books are a must for any fans of the Red Dwarf franchise and merchandise. To date, I have not found any other printed encyclopedias for the show. This two-volume set was written by fans, for fans.
Total Immersion Volume I (A-K), ISBN 978-0-578-15057-4, Trade Paperback with 327 pages.
Total Immersion Volume II (L-Z), ISBN 978-0-578-15058-1, Trade Paperback with 323 pages.