Better than Life

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Zine
Title: Better than Life
Publisher: The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club
Editor(s): Nic Farey (1990–3); Maxine Lehmann (1993–7); Den (2001–2); Caroline Gould & Sharon (2003–7), with Paul (2005–6)
Type:
Date(s): 1990–2007
Frequency: quarterly
Medium: newsletter/magazine
Fandom: Red Dwarf
External Links:
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Better than Life (BTL) is a gen Red Dwarf newsletter that includes fanfiction. It was the club magazine of The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club, a UK-based international fanclub for the show. Founded in 1990, it ran to 52 issues, and was still being advertised in December 2007.[1] It was officially published quarterly, though early and later issues were less frequent.

The earlier issues were fanzine like; later issues had a more of a professional magazine appearance, with colour covers. Contents in the 2000s included interviews with cast/crew ("The Red Interview"), news, opinion, reviews of episodes, books, videos and other merchandise, competitions, fanfiction, fan art/cartoons & readers' letters ("Post Pod"). There were several regular features including "Gazpacho Soup Day", where readers recounted embarrassing experiences; "Marooned", a Red Dwarf Desert Island Discs; "Bay 47", for most-disliked features; and "Pen Pals".[2][3][4]

History

The zine's second editor Maxine Lehmann describes the early days of producing the zine in 2011:

It was a hell of a lot of work. Although we had DTP software, we didn’t have a scanner, and the computer (A Macintosh Performa 475, fact fans!) was a bit weak and feeble when it came to handling large documents. Getting images into the fanzine involved taking slides from Grant Naylor, getting Boots to create photographs from them (for which purpose we had a signed letter from GNP saying they were the copyright holder and we did have permission to do this), then cutting and pasting in the traditional sense, with scissors and glue. We had a printer from which we created the master copy, but it took a minimum of three minutes to print a page and there was no form-feed, so it had to be done manually, for each individual side of the 60-page ‘zine. As it reached the bottom of each print I’d inevitably notice the typos, so I’d spend nearly a full day on just printing the bloody thing. Most people didn’t have computers, so submissions were hand written. While some things arrived on floppy disks there were still conversion issues, and we had no OCR software, so there were hours and hours of transcription and copy editing, plus we had regular calls and meetings to discuss the club in general.
...To be honest, though, after I stopped running BTL I didn’t particularly like the direction it took (more UK-centric, lots more reference to pop culture, lower editorial standards with more typos and spelling mistakes, less focus on the direct fan interaction in the letters pages), and the team size seemed to keep growing unnecessarily.[5]
group shot of issues #7, #8, #9, #10

Issue 1

Better than Life 1 was published in autumn 1990; it contains 23 pages with a black-and-white cover. Contents include:[6]

cover of issue #1
  • Editorial
  • Groovy Channel 27 News
  • Better than Life: the press release
  • Grant Naylor Speaks! (Rob & Doug interviewed)
  • I-Spy
  • Season 1 Episode Guide
  • Bob the Skutter
  • Ask Uncle Arnie
  • Competition
  • Reviews
  • Post Pod
  • Pen Pals
  • Birthdays
  • Diva Droid International (Red Dwarf merchandise)

Issue 2/3

Better than Life 2/3 was published in Winter 1990/Spring 1991 and contains 42 pages.

Issue 4

Better than Life 4 was published in Summer 1991 and contains 27 pages.

Issue 5

Better than Life 5 was published in Autumn 1991 and contains 24 pages.

Issue 6

Better than Life 6 was published in Winter 1991 and contains 31 pages.

Issue 7

Better than Life 7 was published in Spring/Summer 1992 and contains 62 pages.

Issue 8

Better than Life 8 was published in Autumn 1992 and contains 68 pages.

Issue 9

Better than Life 9 was published in 1993 and contains 66 pages.

Issue 10

Better than Life 10 was published in 1994 and contains 64 pages.

Issue 11

Better than Life 11 was published in 1994 (?) and contains 60 pages.

Issue 12

Issue 13

Issue 14

Issue 15

Issue 16

Issue 17

Issue 18

Issue 19

Issue 20

Issue 21

Better than Life 21 was published in summer 1997

Issue 22

Better than Life 22 was published in autumn 1997

Issue 23

Better than Life 23 was published in christmas 1997.

Issue 24

Issue 25

Issue 26

Issue 27

Issue 28

Issue 29

Issue 30

Issue 31

Issue 32

Issue 33

Issue 34

Issue 35

Issue 36

Issue 37

Issue 38

Issue 39

Issue 40

Issue 42

Issue 43

Better than Life 43 was published in spring 2003. It has a colour cover depicting the series II DVD. Contents include:[7]

  • review of the series II DVD (Andrew Ellard)
  • the history of Smegazine (Chris Howarth & Steve Lyons)
  • WomanWizard tour (Robert Llewellyn)
  • In Focus: review of Pete
  • Top Ten Red Dwarf Deaths
  • news on upcoming Dimension Jump X convention

Issue 44

Issue 45

Issue 46

Issue 47

Issue 48

Better than Life 48 was published in summer 2004.

Issue 49

Better than Life 49 was published in spring 2005. It has a colour cover and includes a special on series 5.

Issue 50

Better than Life 50 was current in summer 2006.

Issue 51

Issue 52

Better than Life 52 was the final issue; it was current in 2007.

References

  1. The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club web site: Welcome (18 December 2007; via Wayback Machine)
  2. The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club web site: What is BTL? (6 January 2007; via Wayback Machine)
  3. See, for example, the cover of issue 49 shown in The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club web site: Welcome (7 February 2006; via Wayback Machine)
  4. The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club web site: Better than Life (2 November 2000; via Wayback Machine
  5. Ganymede & Titan: The Beginning (accessed 5 September 2014)
  6. Ganymede & Titan: The Beginning: Contents page of BTL #1 (accessed 5 September 2014)
  7. Red Dwarf.co.uk: News: Fabulous Fanzine (accessed 5 September 2014)