THIS STORY TAKES
ELEVEN YEARS AFTER
THE END OF THE NOVEL
"FATHER TIME," AND
OFFICIAL BBC 'EIGHTH
RELEASED IN FEBRUARY
The Doctor and Fitz
are back together at
last, but the Doctor
is not the man he was
- which is a shame,
because Fitz promised
Anji that his friend
is her best hope of
finding her abducteD
and Anji ARE involved
in a contest between
and Arthur Tyler III,
EACH determined to be
the first privately-
funded man in space.
But the ALIEN Kulan
HAVE BEEN helping the
Frenchman, and at
the far reaches of
the Solar System
their fleet awaits...
Dave? Who are the
agents keeping tabs
on the rival Space
Race teams? Will
the Doctor's blue
box finally reveal
And does the Doctor,
a man without a past,
have what it takes to
stop A Kulan Invasion
Given that it introduces both a new companion and an old one; re-establishes the
Doctor as a wanderer in time and space; and manages to tell an enjoyable, if lightweight, Doctor Who adventure, it’s little wonder that Escape Velocity is one of the most enlivening novels in BBC Books’ eighth Doctor range. It may lack the erudition of The Turing Test and the finesse of Father Time, but it more than makes for this with fast storytelling and vibrant characters.
Reading this novel in 2010, I couldn’t help but be put in mind of the revived television series’ season-openers, particularly those penned by Russell T Davies. An accomplished script writer and editor himself, author Colin Brake seems to approach Escape Velocity as if it were a screenplay: chapters are short and scenes even shorter, injecting the proceedings with a palpable sense of televisual urgency, and the dialogue dazzles throughout. It doesn’t make for great literature, mind, but this hardly matters given the story’s magnetic vigour.
Brake’s adventure is lively, exciting, and brimming with fan service both explicit and implied – someone was still smarting about his Doctor Who script editorship falling through when he penned this! The principal plotline concerns a space race between Pierre-Yves Dudoin and Arthur Tyler the Third, two Cambridge graduates and rivals in love who are each determined to be the first privately-funded man in space. The Frenchman, however, isn’t playing fair. For one thing, he is being aided and abetted by the Kulan, an alien race with eyes for the Earth; and for another, he is using his daughter as leverage to secure the assistance of his brilliant scientist of an ex-wife, Christine, who just happens to be Tyler’s unrequited love. There’s a hint of EastEnders about Brake’s story, but then again there’s more than a whiff of modern Who to it too. It many ways, Escape Velocity was ahead of its time.
Indeed, no better example is there than incoming companion Anji and her star-crossed lover, Dave. It isn’t difficult to imagine this pair showing up at the start of a new season and setting the audience alight in the same way that Amy and Rory, or even Rose and Mickey, did. Anji Kapoor is a twenty-something Soho stockbroker: confident, convincing and just a bit scary. Dave, on the other hand, is something of a waster: a science fiction geek and jobbing actor who seems to have more in common with Fitz than he does his prospective fiancée. Yet the two of them are clearly smitten, happy in their mutual routines and rituals and both looking to make them permanent. At least, they are until Dave is abducted by aliens and Anji has only one man that she can turn to…
“An actor! Yes, that might explain it. One minute, a crotchety old man,
a quick make up and costume change, and then a comic little man with a flute...”
Brake’s handling of the Doctor
and Fitz and their long-awaited
reunion is probably the one thing
that Escape Velocity has been
most lambasted for, yet I admire
how he pulls it off. Confounding
many a reader’s expectations,
the author chooses whimsy over
weight, revealing that Compass-ion dropped off Fitz in February 2001 a few days early, following which he promptly become embroiled in Anji’s adventure in Belgium. The Doctor, meanwhile, has spent a hundred and thirteen years waiting to meet the mysterious Fitz in Saint Louis, but without a more precise location the odds of him actually crossing paths with the fellow are actually pretty slim. So what does he do? He builds a restaurant called ‘Saint Louis’ in England, and waits for his quarry to arrive.
Admittedly, at first it is a little disappointing that the ramifications of The Ancestor Cell aren’t tackled head-on, but with hindsight this was an extremely judicious move. Escape Velocity had enough on its plate without Fitz burdening the Doctor with the knowledge of what he had to do in order to stop Faction Paradox; that reveal could wait for a another day. Instead, the novel focuses on Fitz’s seldom-seen protective nature as he dotes on his amnesiac friend and tries to help Anji; it explores the Doctor’s joy as the TARDIS’ internal dimensions finally re-form around him, out of the darkness, building towards a stunning cliffhanger ending that is evocative of Doctor Who’s inaugural episode in more ways than one. The adventure is about to begin all over again, and poor old Anji has unwittingly signed up for the trip of a lifetime, the carpet having been pulled from under her stilettos in every imaginable sense.
“I’m the Doctor, a citizen of the universe. I travel through time and space
in my trusty TARDIS and I try to help people. That’s about it, isn’t it?”
Against all the odds then, Brake manages to make Escape Velocity a fun outing, blasting the range into a new era with all the violent speed that the title promised. Don’t believe the Literati – this one is a progressive little gem.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This novel brings the Doctor’s one hundred and thirteen year sojourn on Earth to a end, regenerating the TARDIS and reuniting the amnesiac Time Lord with Fitz. It takes place around eleven years after the end
of Father Time.
The new TARDIS console room’s “desktop theme” sounds very much like a fusion of the one used during Season 14, and the one used from Lungbarrow until The Shadows of Avalon (as seen on screen in the TV
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