A new exhibition at Tate Modern - the Tomorrow Windows - promises
to bring about an end to war and suffering by showing "the
gist of things to come". Investigating an act of wanton vandalism
against the exhibition, the Eighth Doctor, Fitz and Trix visit
a number of worlds that are all in dire need of rescuing from
war and suffering themselves...
commented in my review of Jonathan Morris's debut Doctor
Who novel, Festival of Death, back in 2000, that
his writing had more than a hint of Douglas Adams to it. The
same is true of this planet-hopping extravaganza, which is
dedicated to Adams, though Morris is at pains to point out
that his humble book is not intended as a pastiche of the
late writer's work. Having said that, Morris works in several
direct references to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,
including a planet designer, to whom the Doctor suggests the
addition of a few fjords might add "a lovely baroque feel".
is an eccentric novel, whose meandering structure would lend
itself well to a seven-part television serialisation. The
first instalment would take place on Earth, where Ken Livingstone
is seen to explode! Subsequent episodes would revolve around
the worlds of Shardybarn, whose devout populace have doomed
themselves by their own austerity; Valuensis, a war-torn Nineteen
Eighty-Four/Logan's Run/THX 1138-type planet whose ravaged
people are a cross between the Cybermen and the Daleks; the
manufactured paradise of Utopia; and the killer cars of Estebol.
Part Six, if there was one, would focus on the magnificent
Astral Flower, a vast natural wonder that plays host to the
Centre for Posterity retirement home; while Part Seven would
largely concern the deadly democracy of Minuea.
it's not all fun and games. There are some serious and disturbing
moral issues in this book, in which organised religion is
the worst thing that ever happened to the formerly contented
people of Shardybarn. Meanwhile, televised war coverage on
Valuensis brings to mind the recent spin surrounding the occupation
of Iraq. Even the absurdities of Minuean politics have something
to say about our own society: with no goals beyond short-term
economic prosperity and maintaining public support, neither
party is willing to invest any time, money or effort in the
defence of their world against a future environmental disaster.
talking of the future, this is the second Eighth Doctor novel
in a row to foreshadow the arrival of Christopher Eccleston's
incarnation of the Time Lord. Morris earns the distinction
of being the first author to pen a description of the new
Doctor in a published novel, as the current incarnation peers
into a Tomorrow Window and beholds his own potential fate:
wiry man with a gaunt, hawk-like face, piercing, pale grey-blue
eyes and a thin, prominent nose. His lips were set into an
almost cruel, almost arrogant smile. He had an air of determination,
as though withholding a righteous fury. As though facing down
the most terrible monsters."
are also sneaky glimpses of other actual or potential Doctors,
including Rowan Atkinson, Eddie Izzard, Alan Davies and Richard
somewhat undisciplined, The Tomorrow Windows is a highly
intelligent, witty and, above all, enjoyable novel. Pick it
up tomorrow, or - even better - today.
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