BOOK
Doctor Who
The Eye of the Tyger

Author: Paul McAuley
Telos Publishing
www.telos.co.uk
RRP 10.00 (standard hardback), 25.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 24 3 (standard hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 25 1 (deluxe hardback)
Available now


In the 32nd century, the members of a religious cult that left Earth to seek a world of their own are trapped in orbit around a black hole. Their leader, lured by a siren song from the void, is lost to them. When the TARDIS is similarly trapped, the Eighth Doctor and his passenger, an early 20th-century English army Lieutenant infected by an alien virus, find the colony vessel has become a world at war...

I had only previously read one Paul McAuley book, Secret Harmonies. This novella has little in common with that earlier work, except for the topic of "going native" in an alien land, as Lieutenant Edward Fyne becomes tempted to do. While undergoing a transformation into a tiger-like beast, he is enticed by Casimir, a lioness-like occupant of the colony ship.

However, the reason behind Fyne's infection seems like an unnecessary complication to the narrative structure. The first half of the novella introduces us to the Lieutenant's world, the Kipling-esque environment of colonial India, where Fyne meets the Doctor and has a run-in with an alien creature known as a Tyger. Then suddenly the book becomes a very different kind of story as the Doctor attempts to take Fyne to a suitable hospital facility, spectacularly fails, and the setting shifts to the 32nd-century spacecraft. The result reads more like two short stories glued together than a proper novella, an effect that could perhaps have been avoided had the author instead made use of the Seventh Doctor and a post-Survival Cheetah-infected Ace.

As it is, the Tyger-virus is notably similar to the influence of the Cheetah planet in Survival. References to libraries at the end of the universe are also unfortunately reminiscent of a museum depicted in Sometime Never..., the BBC's first Doctor Who novel of 2004.

In spite of its muddled plot, the book boasts many intriguing passages, including an excursion into the colony vessel's hazardous, long-disused internal transit system. The inside-out world of the spaceship and the labyrinthine interior of the TARDIS both seem wondrous and fresh as seen through Fyne's eyes, even though they will already be familiar to most science-fiction readers. The ending seems a little hurried, despite this being a short book, even by novella standards, at less than 80 pages.

Nevertheless, this curious hybrid beast provides enjoyable reading.

Richard McGinlay

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