Title: Five on Brexit Island
Author: Bruno Vincent
Year written: 2016
Publisher and year: Quercus, 2016
ISBN Number: 978-1-78648-384-3
I think I first heard of this book on a livestreams the Yogscast did in December and wanted to get it since then so, as I was already making a Paperchase order, it ended up in my bag. It’s £7.99 from Paperchase (though I found it for under £4 on Amazon) and a hardback which surprised me as most of the Famous Five books I grew up with are paperback. It’s the latest in the Famous Five for grown ups series, at least I’ve seen it called that even if it’s not the official name, and it’s Five on Brexit Island by Bruno Vincent.
I’m not sure how much of a thing the Famous Five, or Enid Blyton in general, is outside of the UK and if it’s even something that people still read here but I grew up reading them. It’s a very British series of books, I think Enid Blyton books are in general, where four children and their dog Timmy go for adventures. I think they’re fairly tame by today’s standards for adventure stories, they’re set in the fifties I think or maybe the sixties, and they always seem to find a friendly farmer who gives them free food and drink. One of them, a girl called George has an island off the coast of England, the kind with a nice ruin and plenty of secret tunnels and caves for adventure, which is where this story is set.
Title: The Last Human
Author: Doug Naylor
Year written: 1995
Publisher and year: Penguin Books, 1995
ISBN Number: 0-14-014388-2
This is the third Red Dwarf book, and as far as I know it’s the last written, though this time just by Doug Naylor rather than writing it with Rob Grant. It does continue from the second book, Better Than Life, but I had this for years before I read the other two and it stood up on its own. The beginning is slightly confusing that way but there is a bit of a ‘previously on’ type beginning that does explain it to new readers.
If you haven’t heard of Red Dwarf the basic idea of the TV series, and the books, is that Dave Lister is the last human being alive, hence the title of the book. He was put into stasis on board a space ship as punishment for having a cat and while he was frozen in time there was a radiation leak that killed the crew. 3 million years in the future the ship’s computer, Holly (who doesn’t actually feature in this book) woke him up when the radiation was safe and the human race is extinct. On board the ship Dave Lister, the last human, is joined by a hologram of his bunk mate, Rimmer, a lifeform that evolved from the ships cat, simply called Cat, and a cleaning android called Kryten.
As this is based on the TV series, and written by the same person, it is probably written for fans of the show and this one does go further away from the episodes and dialogue within them than the previous books. The characters from the TV show are in it, with some added extras, and they do stay true to their on screen versions so fans of the show would probably enjoy that, though like the other books there’s parts of this book that build on the whole lore of the Red Dwarf universe and some parts that rewrite it which could make this both interesting and frustrating if that bothers you.
Title: Red Dwarf Omnibus (Red Dwarf and Better Than Life)
Author: Grant Naylor
Year written: 1989 (Red Dwarf) and 1990 (Better Than Life)
Publisher and year: Penguin Books, 1990
ISBN Number: 0-13-017466-4
This is another older book and one I’ve had for a year or so now, though it was bought second hand on eBay for quite cheap with some other books. It seems to be one of those that’s available from a few sellers on there so if you want it it’s probably the best place to look for a good deal. With the recent series of Red Dwarf finishing it made me want to revisit the older ones (again) and I thought I’d give these a read too. This review is of both parts of the Omnibus, Red Dwarf and Better Than Life, I did consider doing them separately but as I read them as one and they’re basicaly a continuation of each other it made sense to do them both. If you want to skip to the review of the specific book then I’ll do the titles in bold when I start, though they’re very similar in tone so there’s not much to differentiate them apart from the plot, though I have avoided anything spoilery aside from mentioning a few episode titles.
This book, or rather two books, are based on the characters and plot of the TV series Red Dwarf. When this was published in 1990 the latest series was series 3 so anything after that in the TV universe isn’t necessarily canon with this, and vice versa. It’s a sci-fi comedy that pokes fun at sci-fi, has a lot of typically British humour in it and has the odd poke at society as a whole, or parts of it anyway.
Title: The Noticeably Stouter QI Book of General Ignorance
Author: John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
Year written: 2009
Publisher and year: Faber and Faber, 2009
ISBN Number: 0-571-24692-2
I don’t know how popular QI is in other countries but in the UK it’s a popular TV show hosted by Stephen Fry (until the next series) with Alan Davies and other guests who answer questions about pretty much anything as long as it’s quite interesting. It’s pretty much a show full of questions that you think you know the answer to but normally the answer you think is right is wrong. The Book of General Ignorance (first published in 2006) is a book full of answers to these kinds of questions, quite a few of them taken straight from the show directly.
This Noticeably Stouter version of the Book of General Ignorance includes more of these questions, a different cover and a list of the episodes to the date of publication (the F series in the alphabet) but most of it is the same content. I bought it as part of a big lot of QI books on eBay so it probably cost be around £1 or less given the overall price and number of books and it’s one I’ve seen in second hand and charity shops a few times, both versions. It’s a sort of pick up and put down book or a coffee table book that’s a bit different and you can open any page at random and read something rather than having to read it in order.
As I have both of the versions of this book I’m going to review the newer one to start with and then do a bit of a comparison as there are definitely plusses for both versions over the other and then you can see them side by side.