August 6th, 2011


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August Books 3) Another Life, by Peter Anghelides

I am behind on the current series of Torchwood - did watch the first episode but have let it slip since then. I will hope to catch up when on holiday later this month.

I guess I am also way behind with the books published to accompany the first two series of the show. I listened to the audio version of this, the first Torchwood novel, three years ago, and didn't quite get into it - John Barrowman's audio skills have come on a lot recently but he didn't really engage me in the story when I was listening to it. The dead trees version, however, had me gripped - lots of good Torchwood stuff, a body-hopping alien, a spaceship which endangers Cardiff, a former lover of one of the team (Owen in this case), all against a gloomy backdrop of awful weather littered with variously dead bodies. I tried this one as an experiment, but now I think I'll get through the entire sequence - I have read the next three, Border Princes by Dan Abnett, Slow Decay by Andy Lane and Something in the Water by Trevor Baxendale, and greatly enjoyed the Abnett and Lane, which is not a bad strike rate. Next up therefore is Trace Memory by David Llewellyn.

Doctor Who books, in internal chronological order

I'm getting near the end of my rewatch of Old Who now, and I wondered to myself if I could have tried reading the various Doctor Who novels, novellas and annuals in parallel with watching the shows, in such a way that I could follow the continuous narrative all the way from An Unearthly Child to Survival. (I did in fact slot the annuals from 1966 to 1986 into my reading schedule as I watched the old stories.)

Using the chronology here, and stripping out short stories, comics, and (with a slightly heavy heart) Big Finish audios, but adding in the annuals (and Who Killed Kennedy?) as best I could, I came up with the list below (which hopefully includes all separately published books featuring the Doctor which were not based on TV stories, though excludes all other spinoff material and anything set after Survival in the Doctor's personal timeline).

I've come to the conclusion that it would actually be quite difficult to both rewatch Old Who and read all the relevant books in parallel. The books tend to get bunched at narratively convenient points of continuity - look at the groupings between Season 1 and Season 2, between Power of the Daleks and The Highlanders, towards the end of Jo Grant's time, towards the beginning of Leela's and Peri's times, and particularly immediately before and after the Trial of a Time Lord. It simply wouldn't be possible (even for me, and I read very fast) to read those books in continuity order without disrupting your rewatching schedule significantly.

So while I hope the list below will be helpful to those who want to track down books set in a particular era - and I have linked to all the ones I have reviewed - and it could be the basis for a re-read from Frayed through to the point before the New Adventures begin, I fear it demonstrates that its original purpose is unachievable.

(NB that Heart of TARDIS is listed twice, but Cold Fusion only once because the Seventh Doctor timeline is set after Survival.)

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pointless, repression

August Books 4) Mourir à Creys-Malville, by Santi-Bucquoy

This is the second in the Chroniques de fin de siècle, written in 1985 but set in 1993 shortly after the breakup of Belgium and the subsequent invasion of Wallonia by the French; I read the first, Autonomes, a couple of months ago. There's not a lot about Belgium here, in fact, apart from the first few pages where Prince Laurent, installed as puppet king of Wallonia (wartime fascist collaborator Leon Degrelle having been recalled as geriatric prime minister) by the French, gets frisky with his German wife. (In reality Prince Laurent married an Englishwoman some years after this is set, and is in disgrace with the rest of the royal family at present.) The main plot is about Bernard Duval, a randy champion motorcyclist, recruited by the friends of Gérard Mordant, the hero of the first book, to go and find him in the devastation of the nuclear disaster at Creys-Malville in Burgundy. Despite the fact that Duval skips most of the mission briefing due to having a quick shag with one of his fellow activists, he manages to track down Mordant in the contaminated wastelands, and just by coincidence Mordant has hooked up with an Irish terrorist ex-girlfriend of Duval's in the meantime. The artwork is rather good but the plot and the politics, particularly the sexual politics, rather tiresome. (And although we are obviously supposed to think that the nuclear disaster is a black op by the Chirac/Le Pen regime, we don't really get the payoff here.)