The Book of Smeg, also called the Cat Bible, is the holy book in the religion of the Felis sapiens.
Like all Cat books, there was no written language, but the contents were spelt out through 'smells' stored on horizontal strips. There were however visual illustrations.
Upset over being dumped by Kristine Kochanski, Dave Lister, the lowest ranking member on the mining spaceship Red Dwarf, bought a pet female black cat for company while on shore leave on Titan. However, this broke quarantine regulations and the Red Dwarf computer holly had detected a non-human lifeform aboard. Lister was eventually discovered when he took pictures of himself with the pet cat, Frankenstein, and Lister them off to the ship photo processing department.
Lister refused to give up the cat to Captain Hollister, and as punishment was sentenced to eighteen months in suspended animation and therefore forfeit his wages for the mission. Whilst Lister was in stasis, his inept shift colleague Arnold Rimmer attempted to repair a drive plate alone, resulting in a massive radiation leak which killed everybody aboard. The only living things left aboard were Lister in stasis, and the pet cat which Lister had safely stowed away in the cargo hold.
Frankenstein was pregnant, and her litter bred with each other, and their litter did the same. They survived on food in the cargo bays, and presumably space weevils and space food. Eventually the entire cargo hold was filled with cats. Over the course of three million years, the cats evolved into humanoid form, an evolution which was hastened on by the background radiation.
As they became more sentient, the Felis sapiens remembered Lister, who had given his life to save their 'holy mother' Frankenstein. They worshipped him as their creator, and over the millennia his name was corrupted to "Cloister". They began to copy Lister's clothing, such as wearing curry and custard stains on their clothes with reverence. Lister's writings also took on a religious significance; the Cat Commandments came from these, as did their plan to find their "promised land on Fuchal. This was actually Fiji on Earth, where Lister had planned to settle down with Kochanski and open a fast food place.
The Cats split into factions and had a series of bloody wars over minor differences of interpretation in the Holy Book, such as which colour hats to wear. These conflicts wiped out most of the species. Eventually the remaining cats fled from Red Dwarf in two great arks, and they followed what they believed to be star charts left by Cloister and which would lead them to Fuchal. This was actually Lister's old laundry list. One of the Arks flew strait into an asteroid, and the other Ark, carrying the rest of the cat species, flew on into Deep Space.
After Lister came out of stasis, he began to study the history, culture and beliefs of the Felis sapiens. Cat provided Lister with an old copy of the Book of Smeg, where he realised that he was Cloister. Lister used knowledge gained from the book to pretend to be Cloister and give peace to the old dying Cat Priest. ("Waiting for God", Series I)
The surviving Felis sapiens out in space came to build a new fleet from salvaged Space Corps derelicts. Eventually the 'feral king' Rodon and his faction seized power over the fleet, and with Rodon declaring himself a living god, outlawed Cloister worship and the Book of Smeg. His lieutenant Count Ludo was placed in charge of finding all copies of the Book of Smeg, and all remaining Cat Clerics, and bringing them to Rodon.
The three remaining Cat Clerics - Sol, Luna and Peanut - escaped a death sentence aboard the fleet and fled on a shuttle, taking with them some pages they had torn from a Book of Smeg. They then resolved to finding Cloister and Red Dwarf, the place of their birth. (The Promised Land)
The Promised Land
The Promised Land
- The book was normally referred to as the Cat Holy Book or the Cat Bible, without it being officially named. The book was eventually officially named as "The Book of Smeg" in the 2020 television movie The Promised Land.
- This was presumably due to Lister's frequent use of the term "smeg" as an expletive, and it unclear if the cats knew if "smeg" was a curse word.
Behind the Scenes
- The illustrations of Cloister in the Cat Holy Book were remade for The Promised Land so that they would look more like Lister.