Between their availability through Netfix and my extra free time during surgery recovery, I’ve managed to re-watch all of Red Dwarf over the last several days, not quite in order. Because it was on a physical disk rather than a streaming download, I ended up watching “Back to Earth” before a lot of the earlier episodes. Not too surprisingly this was the only totally new material for me, so I was familiar with all that went before.
Now, there are some spoilers to follow, so if you don’t want to risk learning something about an unseen episode, don’t read any further.
In the 2009 episodes, which make up “Back to Earth” the crew and setting seem to have, mostly, returned to the situation of Series 3 through 5 – except that Holly is off-line. Thus the crew is Lister, Rimmer as a hologram (albiet now hard light), Cat and Kryten. Kochanski is explained as having died sometime back.
But, for most of series 8, Red Dwarf was fully populated with a crew of over 1,000 people, and not a few convicts in transit. Then in the last episode, “Only the Good…” the ship is nearly fully destroyed and the crew – except for the convicts including the main characters – have fled.
So, clearly two things have happened between the end of Series 8 and the 2009 three-part episode: The ship has been restored but not its crew. But the main characters have been returned to the restore ship – and the old Rimmer who was last seen replacing “Ace” Rimmer has returned.
So, this gap has left a big hole that is unfilled at least in officially aired episodes. And as often happens when a story leaves a gap such as this, fans jump into the breach with theories and, quite often, their own stories.
Normally, I’d not even consider writing fan fiction. Not that I do much fiction writing at all (my ability to run out of good ideas the moment the fingers hit the keyboard being part of it), but when I do – or when I role play or do other similar activities – I prefer to create my own characters. But this with this case and at this time, my brain decided to play around with writing a story to fill the gap.
Over the last few days I’ve done a lot of thinking, and a bit of writing and have part of a story that could fill the gap. A poor memory of exactly where things were left at the end of “Only the Good…” had me starting towards a bit of a wrong direction – I didn’t get to watch Series 8 until yesterday – but somewhere between my thoughts and what I’ve committed to bits – I might be close to something that would work.
But I’ve also learned a couple of other things. First, my reluctance to use other people’s characters is for the best – I don’t think I do it well, even if I can see things in the meta-text. Second, I don’t think I have the skills to write humor all that well. I’ve got an outline that might support the serious backbone of a Red Dwarf (or similar) story, but the necessary humor is missing.
I don’t know if I’ll keep playing with this or not, but for now I’m not going to throw away what I’ve done so far.