Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers (ISBN 0140124373) is a 1989 British science fiction comedy novel based on the television show Red Dwarf and written by Grant Naylor, the collective name for Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.
Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers sees Dave Lister, a Liverpudlian underachiever, wind up on Mimas following a drunken pub-crawl back on Earth, with no money and no way back. Following a meeting with an anally-retentive Arnold Rimmer, Lister crafts a plot to enlist with the mining spaceship, Red Dwarf, and get back home.
The novel incorporates plotlines from individual episodes of the television show, mainly from the first and second series which were both made one year prior to the novel. Adapted episodes include The End, Future Echoes, Me², Kryten, and Better Than Life with dialogue sampled from multiple others.
An audiobook was later made narrated by Chris Barrie, who plays Arnold Rimmer in the television show.
Part One: Your own death, and how to cope with it
Dave Lister, native to Liverpool, wakes up to find himself on Mimas, a moon of Saturn, following a pub-crawl with his mates the night before. With no money and no transportation to bring him back home, Lister routinely steals the Mimas-equivalent of taxis known as 'Hoppers' to earn enough cash.
One day, Lister fares a man in a faux admiral uniform under the persona of, "Officer Christopher Todhunter", to the red-light district of the city and back to docking ports. Following this, Lister gets the idea to enlist with the Jupiter Mining Corporation (JMC) and its nearby mining vessel, Red Dwarf, and while Red Dwarf docks at Earth get himself sacked and kicked-out.
On board, Lister is bunked and placed under the supervision of the same man from before, Arnold Rimmer, who turns out to be a lowly technician in-charge of the lowest ranking command on the entire ship, Z-Shift, who's duties mainly consist of fixing vending machines. While on the ship, Lister falls for Navigation Officer, Kristine Kochanski, who he dates for a period of time. Lister begins to craft a plan to move to Fiji with Kochanski where they'll manage a food stand and own cattle, however these plans are ruined when she dumps him for a catering officer. Now depressed, Lister decides to get himself in trouble with command and be put into stasis, where in 18-months time Red Dwarf will arrive on Earth and Lister will be fired.
While on planet-leave, Lister smuggles a stray cat, who he names Frankenstein, on board. While he vaccinates it for safety, he allows the high command to believe it is unquarantined and gets himself caught in possession of it. Lister is thrown into stasis, meanwhile, a radiation leak occurs and wipes out the entire crew of the ship, including Rimmer.
Part Two: Alone in a Godless universe, and out of Shake'n'Vac
Lister is released from stasis by the ship's computer, Holly, who informs Lister the entire crew have been wiped out and Holly had to keep Lister in stasis for three million years. Along with that, Holly had to pilot Red Dwarf out of the solar system to avoid spreading the radioactive contamination, and as time passed Holly gradually became dumber and dumber.
Three million years into deep space, a lonely Lister has an emotional breakdown before collapsing on the fifth day of drunken wandering. When he awakens, Lister finds Rimmer, resurrected as a hologram by Holly in an attempt to keep Lister sane. As a hologram, Rimmer is now intangible and unable to interact with his environment as well as having an 'H' on his forehead to help identify him.
Lister eventually grows fed-up with Rimmer and his depressed rantings and prepares to go into stasis until they reach Earth, however, they are interrupted by Holly who has identified a non-human lifeform on board the ship.
Lister and Rimmer reach the location of the non-human lifeform on board the ship and discover a finely-tailored humanoid. Cat, a felis-sapien who evolved from Frankenstein, who turns-out was pregnant and was spared from the radiation leak by hiding in the depths of the ship, is the last of his kind following a religious war based on Lister's grocery list and plan to move to Fiji.
While Lister attempts to persuade Cat to join him in stasis unsuccessfully, Holly sets Red Dwarf to light-speed in an attempt to reach Earth quicker, however this causes future events to play out in-front of the crew's eyes known as future echoes. Rimmer witnesses the supposed death of Lister in the drive room, which makes Lister incredibly paranoid only to eventually discover, from the future echo of an elderly Lister, that it was his grandson that Rimmer saw die and not him. This leads the crew to discover Lister will apparently have children onboard Red Dwarf in the future, as they take a photo of Lister holding two babies.
As Red Dwarf exits light-speed, they continue to drift in deep space before receiving a distress signal from the crashed Nova 5, an American ship which was previously employed under Coca-Cola for a giant marketing stunt to crush Pepsi but crashed before completing their mission. Kryten, the Nova 5's service mechanoid, requests help from the crew while also informing them of the Nova 5's three female occupants. The crew attempt to impress the ladies by putting on fancy attire and Rimmer pretending to be an officer again, however once they reach the Nova 5 they discover all three of the women have been dead for centuries and Kryten was completely unaware, leading to Kryten deactivating himself following this realisation.
While Lister works to rebuild Kryten, Rimmer discovers the Nova 5 has enough power to generate a second hologram and so creates a second Rimmer, due to none of the previous crew liking Rimmer. Not only that, but the Nova 5 possesses a duality drive, which the crew hope can bring them back to Earth.
Months pass, Kryten is rebuilt, and the Rimmers have been working to repair the duality drive, however, they've fallen out and are not on speaking terms. Lister decides that one of the Rimmers must go, and after random selection, the original Rimmer is chosen to be erased. On the night of Rimmer's deletion, Lister questions why the duplicate Rimmer insulted Rimmer as "Mr. Gazpacho", which, after being provided hologrammatic whiskey by Holly, Rimmer decides to tell Lister.
Back before Lister joined Red Dwarf, Rimmer was invited to dine with the captain and other respected individuals on board the ship in a rare opportunity. With nobody to invite, Rimmer hires a call service to send him a woman as a pretend-date, and after Rimmer buys her an expensive dress to wear for the dinner, he discovers he has been duped as she never arrives on the night of the dinner party. At the dinner, Rimmer comes up with a cover-story that his date had died earlier that day and subsequently bombs a joke, embarrassing himself. After a waiter delivers gazpacho soup for the dinner, Rimmer, unfamiliar with how it is served, takes the opportunity to make himself look good and complains the soup is cold to which the others at the table laugh. However, they were laughing at him, as gazpacho soup is supposed to be served cold.
Rimmer sees it as the worst experience of his life, but Lister tries to reason it was just a stupid mistake anybody could've made. Rimmer is defeated and tells Lister to delete him, only for Lister to reveal he has deleted the duplicate, and he only wanted to know what the meaning of "Mr. Gazpacho" meant.
Part Three: Earth
The crew have made it back to Earth using the Nova 5's duality drive, and upon their arrival are hailed as heroes with Rimmer and Cat overjoyed with their newfound admiration and wealth, however Lister decides to live a quiet life in the American midwest in the town of Bedford Falls, which is a recreation of the town from Lister's favourite film, It's a Wonderful Life.
There, Lister lives with his two sons, Jim and Bexley, and a direct descendant of Kristine Kochanski as his wife, also named Kristine. However, things seem odd, Lister's forearms start to ache, and they begin to read out "U=BTL" and "DYING". Lister visits Rimmer at his mansion in Paris, where he begins to question the luck they are experiencing and how it all seems a little too good to be true. Rimmer begins to look around at his surroundings where he has a time travel machine and regularly drinks with the likes of Napoleon, Julius Caesar, and God and starts to agree. They visit Cat at his mansion in Denmark and it begins to come together, where Cat lives with scantily-clad Viking women and his home is surrounded by a giant moat. They are in Better Than Life, an ultra-addictive virtual reality video game that fulfills the player's every want and need, but slowly kills the user as they remain inactive in the real world.
Lister returns to Bedford Falls, where he decides he'll spend one last night with his family, as it is Christmas Eve, but in Bedford Falls, it's always Christmas Eve.
Sequel and influence on the television series
Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers was a bestseller and was followed by a direct sequel Better Than Life in 1990, again written by the show's co-creators Grant Naylor.
The novel influenced several aspects of the television show following its return to air in 1991 with Series IV onward, such influences include Lister having a past relationship with Kochanski prior to the accident, the total number of crew onboard Red Dwarf increasing from 169 to 1,169, and Kryten accidentally causing the Nova 5 to crash due to washing the ship hardware in soapy water.