Front cover of the 1995 edition of the novel.

Last Human (ISBN 9780140143881) is a 1995 British-American science-fiction comedy novel based on the television show Red Dwarf and written by Doug Naylor, cocreator of the Red Dwarf series. It serves as a sequel to Better Than Life, released in 1990, itself a sequel to Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, released in 1989.

Last Human was originally The Last Human, when it was still being written by Grant Naylor, the collective name for Red Dwarf creators, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. The duo began writing it following the end of Series VI in 1993, however after a parting of the ways between them, The Last Human was left in limbo. Still under contract to deliver a novel, Grant and Naylor agreed to separately write two novels serving as sequels to Better Than Life, but both being of separate continuity from one another. This became Last Human by Doug Naylor, released in 1995, and Backwards by Rob Grant, released in 1996.

Of the four novels, Last Human contains the most original concepts outside adapted episodes from the show, but still retains elements from several episodes of the television series. Adapted episodes include Psirens, Emohawk: Polymorph II, and D.N.A.; with dialogue taken from episodes Demons & Angels, Quarantine, Legion, Camille, and Gunmen of the Apocalypse. The novel helped inspire elements of the later Series VII which aired in 1997, also overseen by Doug Naylor.

Unlike the first two novels read by Chris Barrie, the audiobook commissioned featured narration provided by Craig Charles, who plays Dave Lister in the television show. Similar to the audiobook of Backwards, this audiobook skips off certain story elements, completely removing Dr. Longman and the D.N.A. adaptation from the novel.

Plot

Cyberia

{In a flashforward, Lister is a prisoner under a civilization of advanced GELFs and is currently being sent to their penal colony, Cyberia. After a futile attempt to act as his own defense council, Lister is subjected to a virtual reality sentence, forced to live out his life in a hellish dream world of his own worst nightmares.}

Time Fork

Lister is awakened from Deep Sleep by Kryten onboard Starbug, disoriented and confused after living the last thirty six years on the backwards Earth. Suffering from temporary amnesia, he meets the rest of the crew, Kristine Kochanski, the Cat, and Rimmer. Kochanski, elated to finally reunite with Lister, takes him to the sleeping quarters to make love, which Lister happily goes along with, despite not remembering who she is.

In the meantime whilst Lister was in Deep Sleep, Rimmer acquired a solidgram body following Kryten's discovery of the technology when scavenging a derelict ship months back. As such, he is tangible once more, able to interact with his environment.

On their search to reunite with Red Dwarf, they travel through the Omni-Zone, the hub connecting seven parallel realities. This eventually leads them to an exact replica of their Starbug, containing the brutally murdered remains of Cat, an unrepairable Kryten with missing appendages, and the smashed-up lightbee of Rimmer. They discover an alternate, badly-injured Kochanski, who has Lister promise to his find his doppelgänger before dying herself.

The crew set forth in search of Lister's doppelgänger which leads them to Blerios 15, a GELF-occupied asteroid where they are dragged down by a tractor beam and ordered to disembark by its GELF officials. They're charged with trespassing, and have the option of paying a fine of either 200 barrels of oil (which they don't have), five bars of Gatoo (which they don't have or know what is), or four milliliters of sperm (which Lister and Cat have in abundance). As the local population are stricken with serious fertility problems, the sperm proves very valuable and they become quite popular with resident merchants. However, when browsing the nearby marketplace, the crew come upon a trader incredibly fearful of Lister, confusing him for his counterpart. The trader reveals the doppelgänger has been sent to the Forum of Justice under the GELFs, awaiting trial.

Kryten visits the Forum of Justice's Regulator to ask further questions, discovering Lister's doppelgänger has been charged with acts of destruction, looting, plundering, and murder. However, this is all based-off the GELFs' justice system, wherein an individual is convicted of a crime preemptively with the use of psychics and fortune tellers before they can commit one; which is how the Regulator saw fit to charge Lister's doppelgänger with killing him as well.

With this knowledge, Kryten is convinced Lister's parallel counterpart is innocent, and heads off to hatch a plan to break him out of Cyberia.

{In another flashforward, presented in real-time with the crew's adventure, Lister is serving his virtual sentence in Cyberia where he is transported to a Spanish villa in the Mediterranean; however, this proves to not be his worst nightmare, as made plainly obvious by Lister's joy of being there, and his simulation is corrected.}

The crew attempt to purchase a harmful virus, known as the Oblivion Virus, to disrupt Cyberia's security defenses to bust Lister's doppelgänger out. They attempt to trade with the GELF tribe, the Kinitawowis, who have the virus. However, they do not trade using sperm, and are greatly offended by Lister's attempt to do so. As an apology, Lister is forced to wed the Kinitawowi chief's daughter, which would bag them the Oblivion Virus. Lister, though very reluctant, goes through with the wedding but runs out amidst unwanted sex with the daughter. Taking the Oblivion Virus and some of the tribe's rogue droids with him, he and the crew flee onboard Starbug toward Cyberia.

Wielding the Oblivion Virus, they break into Cyberia. Kochanski, Kryten, and Rimmer work to upload the Oblivion Virus into Cyberia's security network; meanwhile, Lister and the rogue droids parachute into Cyberia, which, due to the Oblivion Virus, is experiencing the loss of artificial gravity and area Lister is landing toward is currently affected. A pool of pink liquid from a lake rushes to meet with Lister as he plops in, nearly drowning before he finally meets himself, more accurately, his Other Self. Lister's Other Self performs CPR on Lister, springing him from near-death just as the antidote to the Oblivion Virus was uploaded by Cyberia's network. The antidote, causing the artificial gravity to come back online, sends Lister and his Other Self plummeting toward the surface.

The two manage to survive impact, however Lister's Other Self suffers a serious leg injury. As the two Listers make their escape, Lister notices his Other Self's seemingly ecstasy-filled glee in brutally dispatching pursing guards. Lister's Other Self also takes time to retrieve a box of his, containing personal belongings. After some time, the two manage to escape successfully, but not without Lister's Other Self purposefully prolonging the chase to acquire more kills.

At a campfire following their breakout, Lister, well aware his Other Self is more sinister than he's letting on, decides to knock him unconscious and put him in restraints temporarily. He opens the box, revealing a piece of his Kryten and a map outlining the path to an unknown location. Lister's Other Self awakens, using the campfire to burn his straps off, and tussles with Lister, overpowering him.

Starbug arrives, greatly in disrepair, and unknowingly takes aboard Lister's Other Self, leaving their Lister behind. Kochanski nurses Lister's Other Self, believing him to be their Lister, and expresses regret for their attempted rescue of the evil Lister they think they left behind. Lister's Other Self takes advantage of the situation, setting course for his map's path and arrives at the Mayflower, an ancient ship containing a genome able to rewrite one's DNA, able to make anyone an essential god. Lister's Other Self declares they take it for themselves, leaving Kryten momentarily stunned, but after some thought, he agrees.

The Rage

{In the distant past, John Milhous Nixon, president of Earth, learns from his cabinet that thermonuclear tests conducted too close to the sun have greatly reduced its structural integrity, eventually leading to the death of entire solar system in four hundred years. Proving detrimental to his reelection chances, Nixon decides to commission an operation to relocate humanity to another galaxy via terraforming a preexisting, barren planetoid. Dr. Michael Longman, alongside his two clones, Dr. Longman and Dr. Longman, helps organize the mission with the aide of numerous GELFs, simulants, and famed soldier, Michael McGruder.

McGruder reveals to President Nixon that he's agreed to the mission under the possibility that he may meet his deceased father, who, as revealed via his father's ship's black box, was revived to be its hologram. That man . . . is Arnold J. Rimmer.}

Lister is captured by Cyberia forces, and experiences the prior flashforwards of trial and sentencing to confinement at the penal colony. His worst nightmare reveals itself to not just be his primal fears, but of what he's lost at the hands of his Other Self, including Kochanski. Five months pass as he roams the streets of a dystopian, ugly city without genitals, faced with leagues of prostitutes made to resemble Kochanski, billboards mocking his parentless childhood, and encyclopedia salesmen. However, he is eventually taken out of the simulation and given an offer, to serve on an experimental recolonization program.

The Omni-Zone is dragging the GELFs' solar system inward, reducing victim planets to dust in its wake. In response, the GELFs have been at work developing a planet with the ability to pass through the Omni-Zone without harm. Attempts using the combined mental state of Cyberia's wrongly-accused proved catastrophic, leading to desperate measures by the GELFs. Keen on recruiting who they believe is the unstoppably psychotic Lister, he's freed in exchange for his cooperation.

Back on Starbug, the crew follow coordinates related to a map found on the parallel Kryten's remains leading to a research station, deciding to wait in Deep Sleep during the journey.

Waking early so as to help set preparations, Kryten decides to examine "Lister's" medical files following his broken leg. He's shocked to discover the stark differences between his Lister's medical records and the records of the current one aboard Starbug, and realizes they've taken the wrong Lister. He also discovers that the one aboard Starbug developed his psychotic personality from being adopted by a different, more abusive, family than their Lister.

Just before Kryten could collect himself, Lister's Other Self, having also awoken early, launches a surprise attack on Kryten with a fire axe. Before he could be taken out, the Kinitawowis return, and angrily demand their chief's daughter's groom be returned, to which Kryten happily obliges leading to Lister's Other Self being dragged onboard their ship. Before Kryten could soak in his luck, he's alarmed to discover Starbug on fire and heading on a collision course with a nearby lava planet. The rest of the crew awake from Deep Sleep and man their positions, however, the lava planet turns into one harboring an ocean thanks to the Mayflower.

The crew scavenge the ship and discover viruses, some even possessing positive effects such as luck onto an individual for a period of time. They also encounter a DNA altering device, which turns Kryten into a human. Meanwhile, Cat and Rimmer come across a jacket bearing the name McGruder, which Rimmer recalls as very familiar.

{Onboard Red Dwarf, Rimmer develops a crush on the ship's female boxing champion, Yvonne McGruder, one which she secretly shared toward him. After she sustains a minor injury to her head, she serendipitously boards the same elevator as Rimmer. Rimmer, taking the opportunity to finally say something to her, manages to make a good first impression. This leads to a one-night stand, one which afterward neither Rimmer nor McGruder wish to bring up to each other. Rimmer, fearing McGruder's head injury meant she wasn't all there on the night. McGruder, assuming it was just a hallucination and never occurred.

McGruder eventually departs Red Dwarf towards Earth, where she discovers the encounter with Rimmer was indeed real when she learns she's pregnant with his child. However, before she could inform him of the news, Red Dwarf's crew are killed by a Cadmium II radiation leak. When born, Michael McGruder was raised on the falsehood that his father, Arnold Rimmer, was a courageous, brave Space Marine. One to aspire to.}

Lister is given the benefit of one night with a GELF prostitute, a symbi-morph named Reketrebn, able to transform herself into what her host most sexually desires. However, she's the only symbi-morph currently saving itself, but was thrown into Lister's cell against her will by her abusive master. Lister, nonetheless, has no interest in achieving sexual ecstasy and requests she transform into Kryten, but he delivers information Lister only subconsciously knows, such as Lister's Other Self wasn't Kochanski's lover, who was in actuality Rimmer. After convincing her to transform into himself to feel his pain, Reketrebn agrees to aide in Lister's escape. However, the escape only lands them on the exact ship they were trying to avoid, just in the ship's control room and not its stasis booths.

{In the distant past, McGruder is aboard the Mayflower on its mission to make a planet habitable for human life. While inspecting some reprogramed simulants, he's jumped and caged by GELFs in a mutiny. As he watches his human crewmembers butchered, the Mayflower is sucked into the Omni-Zone. McGruder, now enslaved by his new GELF masters, relents he isn't even a tenth of the man Arnold Rimmer was.}

On the planet, Lister and Reketrebn meet Michael McGruder, having been sealed in Deep Sleep aboard the Mayflower. Having served with his Rimmer, McGruder asks if his father was a brave and heroic as he imagines, to which Lister, not wanting to let him down, confirms. He learns of the Rage, the combined anger and hatred of the wrongly-punished inmates of Cyberia, and the ritual required to appease it, which involves forming a circle and allowing it to move between them, briefly making its host desire it deeply, before choosing one as its temporary host, quickly killing them. Lister briefly feels the desire of the Rage during the ritual, but ultimately he is not chosen, and the chosen one is swiftly killed.

Back on the Mayflower, Kryten, though at first amazed by being human, quickly decides its lost its luster and wants to turn back into a mechanoid. However, Dr. Longman, ravaged from the many centuries of abusing the DNA altering device combining him and his two clones into one hideous monster, has stolen the DNA data from the machine. With the help of the luck virus, Kochanski defeats the Longmans and Kryten is restored back to a mechanoid. Rimmer concocts a plan to use the luck virus and receive the coordinates to their Lister's location, which succeeds as they head off.

The crew arrive on the planet where McGruder is finally reunited with his father, collapsing from the sheer emotion. Rimmer, following explanation from Lister, does the same. After coming to, Rimmer decides to reveal to his son who he really in life, a lowly maintenance worker, but says he should look up to his mother, as she was the true hero in his life. McGruder is distraught with this news, and goes to collect his thoughts.

Starbug, now void of power, leaves the crew stranded on the planet as it prepares to pass through the Omni-Zone, though safely thanks to the terraforming conducted on it. Meanwhile, Rimmer tries to comfort his son, currently in a cave. However, he discovers McGruder held at gunpoint by Lister's Other Self, having killed the Kinitawowis before he ever left Starbug, simply hiding onboard the ship waiting to heal, seeking revenge. When given the opportunity to stop him, Rimmer chokes, and Lister's Other Self knocks Rimmer down and throws him onboard Starbug's hold alongside Kryten.

In the Mayflower, Lister's Other Self takes McGruder hostage alongside Lister and Kochanski, demanding the solar-powered escape pod to flee the planet. He also shoots Lister in the groin, rendering him sterile.

Back on Starbug, Kryten encourages Rimmer to stop Lister's Other Self and save his son, to which Rimmer, reluctantly, agrees. Kryten pushes Rimmer's lightbee through the ventilation out of the cell as Rimmer equips a paint-stripper as a makeshift weapon. Charging onboard the Mayflower, Rimmer takes on Lister's Other Self valiantly; winning the respect of Lister, Kochanski, and his son. However, Lister's Other Self blasts through to Rimmer's lightbee in a critical hit, leaving Rimmer damaged and his hologrammatic projection offline.

Just then, the Rage returns, and all of them have to form a circle to appease it. Not wanting the possibility of falling victim to it, Lister's Other Self scoffs down the luck virus to prevent it. As the ritual takes place, the Rage reaches Lister's Other Self, but due to him now desperately fervently desiring it combined with the luck virus, the Rage immediately choses him and he is killed.

The planet is now on the precipice of crossing the Omni-Zone, and the entire crew come out onto the surface, carrying Rimmer's damaged lightbee alongside. Through a last act of pure hatred, the Rage blocks all the caves and other forms of cover from the crew to stop them from passing through alive. Rimmer via morse code, volunteers to have the Oblivion Virus uploaded to his lightbee and used to destroy the Rage, allowing them to take shelter from the Omni-Zone crossing. Doing so, Rimmer is flies toward the rage, but not before sending the message, "S.M.A.K.I.B.B.F.B," which Lister translates, "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast." McGruder smiles.

The Rage is vanquished and the crew take shelter in the caves as the planet crosses the Omni-Zone.

Weeks pass, and the crew have survived the crossing and are now at work living new lives. McGruder, Kryten, Cat, and Reketrebn have started an expedition in search of Rimmer's lightbee; while Lister lifts Kochanski up, walking her through the windy meadows of growing grass.

Series VII

The idea of introducing Lister's love interest, Kristine Kochanski, to the core Red Dwarf crew as in Last Human saw fruition come Series VII of the Red Dwarf television series, airing in 1997. With the added bonus of bringing a female main character into the show to help prospects of getting a Red Dwarf movie off the ground. Kochanski, as portrayed by Chloë Annett, shares similar characteristics to the Kochanski from Last Human more so than the prior Kochanski from earlier series, portrayed by Clare Grogan.

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