The 22nd century. A few short years of interstellar contact
have taught humanity a hard lesson: that there are forces
out there that are nightmare manifest. It's a realisation
that deals a body blow to mankind's belief in his own superiority,
and leaves him with the only option he ever had: to fight.
The Doctor, Fitz and Anji get caught in the crossfire...
is it: the Eighth Doctor is now officially a past Doctor.
Not only has Paul McGann been succeeded by Christopher Eccleston
- and before we knew it, David Tennant - but his prose adventures
have ceased publication as a regular, chronological series.
From now on, any further Eighth Doctor novels will jump back
and forth along his lifetime as with any other past Doctor.
One slight difference to his predecessor, the Seventh Doctor,
is that we are permitted to delve back into eras that were
only ever presented in prose. Past Doctor adventures featuring
the Seventh Doctor have steered clear of the companions Bernice,
Roz and Chris, characters who were created for the New
Adventures books, due to the changeover of publisher from
Virgin to BBC Books. The Eighth Doctor faces no such restrictions,
since the novels are still being published by the BBC. Accordingly,
author Nick Wallace returns to the Fitz/Anji age, not long
after the events of Escape
Velocity and EarthWorld.
I would have preferred a Fitz/Compassion story, or an adventure
set during the Doctor's century stranded on Earth, but Wallace
depicts his chosen period well. Fitz is still struggling to
cope with the fact that the Doctor doesn't recall their previous
travels together. Fitz wonders whether their former friendship
can truly continue, given that the Time Lord doesn't really
know him. However, the development of Anji is somewhat at
odds with novels set later on in her tenure. Here she moves
on from the death of her boyfriend Dave in a big way, whereas
she still pines for him in "subsequent" books, such as Hope,
so Wallace is forced to push a big fat reset button at the
said, there's no denying that this is a good story for Anji,
who gets plenty to do. The traditional pattern for a Doctor
Who story is for the Doctor and his companion(s) to split
up and pursue separate aspects of the narrative. In this novel
they are separated not by space so much as time, as the author
switches between Jupiter space in the late 22nd century, Jupiter
space four years previously, and the planet Mars during the
years in between. Anji inhabits the "now" and "in between"
bits, as she first learns to deal with the fact that the Doctor
and Fitz have been lost in a disaster on board a space station
and that she has no way of returning to her own time, then
sets off to investigate what really happened. The Doctor and
Fitz's chapters take place four years earlier, during the
days leading up to the catastrophe.
structure is confusing at first, with flashbacks taking place
even within the flashbacks, but as all three timelines develop,
revelations in each one gradually inform our understanding
of the others. The contrasts between the station crew before
and after the disaster are dramatic and often quite shocking.
it isn't directly identified as such, so as not to deter casual
readers, the author throws in enough clues to suggest that
the recent "occupation" to which the characters refer was
Dalek invasion of Earth. He also mentions the Martian
blockade that was depicted in the New Adventures novel
In The Five Doctors, the First Doctor said: "Fear itself
is largely an illusion." But it isn't an illusion any more
- it's a book! And a rather challenging book at that, but
well worth the effort.
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