Unsettling things are afoot on the Cornish coast. Strangers
are hanging around the harbour and a mysterious object is
found on the seabed. Could this have anything to do with the
alluring Ruth, to whom local lifeboatman Steve has taken a
shine, or the Byronesque Doctor, to whom Steve's little sister
Nina feels irresistibly drawn...?
novella was, rather worryingly, delayed for a month, pending
approval from BBC Worldwide. For what reason, I wonder. Was
there something in the original manuscript that proved unacceptable
to the BBC?
the Eighth Doctor - shock, horror - wears jeans. (What's the
world coming to?) Indeed, he abandons his TV movie look entirely
for a change, in favour of a lighter summer ensemble, complete
with floppy sun hat. However, I don't really think that's
a reason for any controversy.
likely, the Beeb were uneasy about Louise Cooper's portrayal
of the Doctor as the object of a 17-year-old's adulation.
But whatever was in the original draft, proceedings remain
proper and above board in the published version. Nina is not
the first teenager to develop a crush for the Time Lord in
arguably his most attractive incarnation - Samantha Jones
did the same thing in the BBC's own Eighth Doctor novels.
As before, he does not reciprocate the girl's feelings, despite
having snogged a more mature woman in the TV movie. That said,
no character has ever accused the Doctor of being a cradle-snatcher
in quite such an explicit manner as he is in this book. (Which
is quite odd, when you consider his track record for travelling
the cosmos in the company of young girls.)
case my review has given you the impression that this novella
focuses primarily on the Doctor, I should point out that this
is not the case. In fact, he hardly appears at all until almost
halfway through the book. The main protagonists here are Nina
and her big brother Steve. Previous Telos books have similarly
minimised the Doctor's role: Time and Relative focused
on Susan, while Citadel of Dreams turned its spotlight
on Ace. But Susan and Ace are both familiar characters from
the Doctor Who TV series, whereas Nina and Steve are
not, which gives the reader the curious impression of reading
a non-Who story that the Time Lord just happens to
have strolled into.
author's background in young adult fiction is reflected in
the leading role that is played by Nina and in the simplistic
(though proficient) writing style. Introducing the Doctor
to a young readership through the eyes of such a character
would have been a great idea for the first in a new range
of young adult novels, and the length of the book also happens
to be just about right for that market. However, I don't think
teenage readers are the target audience for this series of
a younger reader would have been more surprised by certain
plot twists than a veteran sci-fi fan like myself. I guessed,
for instance, the purpose of Steve's unusual pendant long
before it was disclosed. I also had cause to wonder why a
couple of aliens, rather like the invaders in the movie Signs,
would choose to visit Earth at all, given their particular
author takes a little too long to tell her relatively simple
tale - at 140 pages, not counting prelims and end matter,
this is, I think, the longest Who novella to date.
But that is not to say I didn't enjoy Rip Tide. On
the contrary, there's plenty of human interest here, as Cooper
reminds us how mere mortals such as ourselves might be affected
if the Doctor suddenly walked into - and just as suddenly
out of - our lives.