Doctor, Fitz and Anji land on a planet where, due to the proximity
of a quantum white hole, the normal physical laws of the universe
cease to apply. This is a world upon which gnomes and giants
walk, where magic and witchcraft are undeniably real, and
where wishes can be granted - at a price...
well timed to all but coincide with the release of The
Fellowship of the Ring, this novel continues the magical
trend established by last month's City of the Dead.
This book, however, takes a very different approach.
familiar fairy tales, such as Sleeping Beauty and Jack
and the Beanstalk, with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and
Lewis Carroll, as well as more obscure fables, the narrative
unfolds in a particularly episodic fashion. The planet's various
visitors, which comprise the dispersed TARDIS crew and a party
of traders who seek to exploit the world for any valuable
white hole material they can get their hands on, each become
involved in their own series of adventures and mishaps. Only
slowly - but surely - is the precise nature of this peculiar
realm revealed and a semblance of a cohesive plot gradually
objects have fallen from the white hole, and threaten to destabilise
local reality. These boxes, or skyfall, are able to reveal
myriad versions of reality: the numerous different ways in
which the past, present and future could have unfolded or
could yet unfold. Glimpsing these infinite possibilities can,
and does, drive human minds insane, but what the authors also
strive to tell us is that alternative realities are with us
every day. These alternatives can be the differences between
how an individual sees his or her self and how others perceive
that person. This is demonstrated by the conflicting viewpoints
of Anji and a captain from the trading party, Christina, either
of whom jealously regards the other as being the more attractive.
is a self-aware text, in which the planet's visitors come
to realise how various fairy-tale story-telling conventions
can shape the events around them. However, the book is far
from pretentious. Much fun is had exposing and exploring such
conventions as well as adding modern twists to their archaic
style, in a manner similar to the hit movie Shrek.
For example, an old-fashioned public notice stuck on to a
tree, offering a reward to whosoever may cure one Princess
Ebonyblack (a twist on Snow White, geddit?) of her sleeping
sickness, concludes with the kind of disclaimers you can find
on billboard posters today.
witty and eminently readable, there's nothing grim about this
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