The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Fitz and Anji to Bristol,
in what should be 2003. However, to the superstitious local
population it is the year 160 - the 160th year after the Cleansing,
a devastating event that wiped out every animal species and
most of the human race...
first line of the synopsis doesn't inspire much confidence,
does it? The previous Eighth Doctor novel, David Bishop's
The Domino Effect, was set in an alternative Edinburgh
in 2003. So does this book merely do the same thing but with
a different city?
Fortunately, it's not as straightforward as that. Bristol
in the year 160 is a quite different type of dystopia, and
Nick Walters throws in plenty of temporal distortions and
time paradoxes for good measure. The novel involves a fair
few detours to the 19th century, when we meet the pioneering
engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
rather like the traveller in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine,
the TARDIS crew discover that the survivors of the apocalypse
have diverged into antagonistic groups, practically different
races. Instead of the Morlocks, they face the Wildren, feral
humans who have survived the shortage of meat sources by turning
to cannibalism. Refreshingly, the Doctor's attempts to appeal
to the latent humanity of the Wildren fall on deaf ears for
is equally refreshing is the friction that develops between
the Doctor and Fitz, who grows tired of the Time Lord's seemingly
never-ending quest to stamp out all the "wrong" versions of
reality, erasing millions of innocent people in the process.
Who is to say which is the right reality and which are the
wrong ones, argues Fitz. This subject was briefly touched
upon in The Domino Effect, but it is discussed much
more thoroughly here.
plot of Reckless Engineering becomes a bit of a runaround
affair towards the end, and some of Walters' ideas - including
the Wildren - are not exploited as fully as they might have
been. Brunel's acceptance of the strange events that befall
him also stretches the reader's credulity.
I don't think it would be reckless of me to state that this
book is well worth picking up.
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