She's the only woman who ever loved Arnold Rimmer. Talkie Toaster checks Nirvanah Crane for concussion.

Name: Nirvanah Crane Nirvanah Crane
Occupation: Commander aboard holoship
Qualifications: Multiple doctorates and degrees, posh accent.
Distinguishing Marks: Circular H on forehead, big hair.
Captain Platini's Comments: Commander Crane was considered by Stocky, the Enlightement's on-board computer, to be the most suitable candidate to face the challenge of Red Dwarf's Arnold Rimmer. (Note: The implication here is that her IQ is the lowest on the ship. It certainly explains her later actions.)

First questions first - would you like some toast?

Well I see this won't be much of a battle of wits.

Excuse me?

I'm a hologram. My entire form is composed of short-form light transmitted from a central light-bee. I am about as capable of interacting with genuine physical objects as a department head is of ignoring someone else's car in his reserved space. If you took the most sumptuous fresh bread ever baked and toasted it until it was an even golden brown, slathered it in melting butter and fresh strawberry jam, I still wouldn't be able to eat it. I am a hologram, and holograms don't eat.

Nirvanah Crane

I'm getting that you'd maybe prefer a crumpet.

You're getting on my nerves.

No toast then?

No. Get on with the interview.

Fair enough. I'm a professional, I can do this. Tell me about life aboard the holoship Enlightenment.

As the name suggests, it was a ship designed to discover that which would help heighten our understanding. The deepest secrets of the universe, we hoped, would be open to us as we travelled through wormholes and stargates on an eternal quest. Uninhibited by mortality, by age, by the need to consume resources, we were humanity's best chance at answering the biggest questions our species has ever asked.

Gee, you're not afraid of those big words, are you?

It was a bold and challenging quest. And do you know what our biggest discovery was? Space Weevils.

Space Weevils?

For a while we thought we had discovered hitherto unseen proof of extra-terrestrial life. Not that it did us any good. It was impossible for us to capture a specimen for examination.

How come?

We're holograms - we couldn't touch the damned things! Sent out to the farthest ends of the universe, a crew of almost two thousand registered geniuses, and not one of them pointed out that any discovery we made couldn't be brought back!

Wow, you guys were pretty dumb!

I can calculate pi in my head to over six hundred decimal places. You're a used up electrical appliance with a defective browning knob. Setting 5 for 'hardly done', setting 6 for 'burnt to a crisp'. Who's the dumb one here?

Actually, that browning knob thing isn't a fault - all toasters are like that...

Anyway, we were still able to make detailed reports, as well as continue our own research. You get a lot done in three million years. Revolutionary work was done in the fields of physics, chemistry, mathematics and crossword puzzles.

Tell me about your childhood.

I was born in 2482, long after scientists finally proved that all of man's hang-ups and neuroses were caused by their parents. In our society, parenting was provided by institutions and nanny-bots. I was lucky - raised by the Space Corp's physics research division and given the very best education.

Nirvanah Crane

I find it hard to believe that schools in that time weren't still awkward and uncomfortable experiences!

Certainly there were still clashes. I remember one time when my friend Carlton suggested that the dimensions of the universe would always be limited by the constraints of infinite time. As if time's infinity wasn't dependent on the dimension that contained it!

Wow - sounds like a rough time...

Anyway, after a profitable and useful life working for the Corps in their research centres in Helsinki, Florida, Triton, Pluto and Swindon, I died at the age of 93 while finishing a paper on ways to avoid fallout from atomic testing.

How did you die?

The guys in the next lab were doing some atomic testing - blew up the building. And a sizeable part of Pluto.

But you were revived as a hologram?

Indeed. The holoship programme was ready to go to a second prototype and I was brought back to join the crew. The first prototype was perfect in all but one respect - six months into space, the batteries on their communal light-bee ran out. All that work destroyed for want of a double-A.

Nirvanah Crane

The second crew was created mostly from the original's personnel - they simply duplicated the hologram discs and re-revived them. A few dropped out when they discovered that they could end up flickering on and off like a flashlight in a horror movie, and I was drafted in as a replacement. It's a crew made up entirely of the formerly-deceased - so naturally we had a several psychiatrists on board.

How did you meet the crew of Red Dwarf?

When we detected their vessel approaching, we found they had a hologram on board. As only an idiot would revive a power-draining class one hologram aboard a dilapidated mining vessel unless they were a person of vital importance to the mission, we determined that Rimmer was the man in charge and brought him aboard the Enlightenment.

I'll bet he was a bit of a surprise!

I must admit that I originally took his ignorance to be an act - something he put on to make sure his men didn't feel inferior. But when the ship's computer registered his IQ... well, we did wonder if it hadn't lost a digit by mistake.

But Arnie had something special. A kind of charisma... well, no, not charisma - charm maybe. No, not really any charm, either. Anyway, something about him spoke to me.

You even had sex with him...

Our attitude to sex is that it should be undertaken twice a day - it's a health rule. As holograms there is, after all, no risk of pregnancy or disease.

That's what you think. I could tell you a thing or two about holoviruses...

Well, sex with Arnie was obviously strictly for recreation and meant nothing to me.

You can't fool this old toaster. You took him to your quarters, rather than to the sex deck on floor 3125. You were attracted to him even then.

Nirvanah Crane

Maybe. Or perhaps I wasn't sure he had the experience to cope with the equipment.


Regardless, I believed, like my crewmates, that love was simply a short-term hormonal imbalance that interferes with the pursuit of personal advancement. I dismissed the growing affection as I would any emotional reaction.

Let me give you an example. One day, I was having... recreation with Commander Binks - the officer who boarded Starbug to asses the ship and its crew - and he started dictating into his data-recorder. Now, I usually appreciate some competitive conversation about mission profiles during a work-out, but when he's simply dictating into a machine... well, it can be very off-putting. But I kept my head and held my tongue.

But you couldn't hide your feelings for Rimmer...

Maybe it was the way he remained silent throughout our intercourse - except for at one point screaming 'Geronimo' - that made me realise what I felt.

Ultimately, I realised that his success in gaining a place aboard the holoship, achieving his dream, was more important to me than my own survival. I spoke to one of the psychiatrists - a most talented man who trained at the McClaren school - but he couldn't help me. I withdrew from the challenge and allowed Arnie to win, to have his dream.

At the cost of your life?

Yes. But I should have known he felt the same for me. He refused to accept the post and I was reactivated. All he left behind was a note. I won't read it out, these things are personal, but it was a delightful poem where he began by describing my eyes as two 'limpid pools of loveliness.' Sweet.

Thank you Nirvanah. One final question - would you like some toast?