I love the bathos of this extract from the Red Dwarf novels:

Sipping her champagne Kirsty Fantori, the star demolition engineer, started programming the nebulon missile. It had to explode at just the right moment to trigger off the reaction in the star’s core which would push it into supernova stage. A star in supernova would light up the entire galaxy for over a month, giving off more energy than the Earth’s sun could in ten billion years. It would be a hell of a bang.

One undetected bug in Fantozi’s programming could ruin everything. Not only did she have to push the star into supernova, she had to time it so the light from the explosion would reach Earth at exactly the right moment. The right moment was the same moment as the light from the other one hundred and twenty-seven supergiants, which were also being induced into supernovae, reached Earth.

For anyone living on Earth the result would be mindfizzlingly spectacular. One hundred and twenty-eight stars would appear to go supernova simultaneously, burning with such ferocity they would be visible even in daylight.

And the hundred and twenty-eight supernovae would spell out a message.

And this would be the message:


For five whole weeks, wherever you were on Earth, the huge tattoo would be branded across the day and night skies. Honeymooners in Hawaii would stand on the peak of Mauna Kca, gazing at sunsets stamped with the slogan. Commuters in London, stuck in traffic jams, would peer through the grey drizzle and gape at the Cola constellation. The few primitive tribes still untouched by civilization in the jungles of South America would look up at the heavens, and certainly
not think about drinking Pepsi.

The coat of this single, three-word ad in star writing across the universe would amount to the entire military budget of the USA for the whole of history.

So, ridiculous though it was, it was still a marginally more sensible way of blowing trillions of Dollarpounds.

And, the Coke executives were assured by the advertising executives at Saachi, Saachi, Saachi, Saachi, Saachi and Saachi, it would put an end to the Cola war forever. Guaranteed.

Pepsi would be buried.

OK, it wasn’t wonderful, ecologically speaking. OK, it involved the destruction of a hundred and twenty-eight stars, which otherwise would have lasted another twenty-five million years or so. OK, when the stars exploded they would gobble up three or four planets in each of their solar systems. And, OK, the resulting radiation would last long past the lifetime of our own planet.

But it sure as hell would sell a lot of cans of a certain fizzy drink.

– Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, p. 72