Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

October Books 19) Doctor Who - Slipback

There is a minor character in this novel who is an unsuccessful author:
When Horace's book was finally published, it was viciously attacked by the critics. This was sad, as no-one had been able to disprove anything he had written. It was even sadder that the critics, blinded by their own prejudice, could not see the energy, grace and skill that had gone into the book's construction. Even if, as they believed, every word was untrue, they chose to ignore the incredible flights of imagination necessary to argue such a theory. But worse still - as they were supposedly people of education and letters - they could not see or appreciate the pure, good writing which was on the page. Although the book sold well, it was bought for all the wrong reasons. People would memorise passages from it, then regurgitate them at drinks parties, laughing. like blocked drains as they did. It had become chic to mock Horace. Unable to cope with the ridicule, Horace retired into obscurity. Two years later he died of a broken heart.
It's tempting to interpret this as Eric Saward justifying himself: a misunderstood and underappreciated genius, the quality of whose work will be apparent to the ages though not to the contemporary critic. Given everything else I know about Saward, actually, I am pretty convinced. Doctor Who - Slipback is a desperate attempt to channel Douglas Adams, even more desperate than the radio series on which it was based. Planets and people have comical names and bizarre characteristics; and threats to the universe are both gruesome and bathetic. I think this actually is a worse book than Saward's novelisation of The Twin Dilemma, though I'm not rereading it in order to form a more precise judgement. Certainly neither is interesting enough in their awfulness to be worth memorising and regurgitating at drinks parties.

Douglas Adams did it much better, not just because his prose style in general was vastly superior to Saward's but also because he had a coherent sense of world-building, both for his own fiction and for the Who stories he wrote; and his humour was self-deprecating rather than defensive.
Tags: bookblog 2009, doctor who, doctor who: 06, writer: eric saward
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