(ISBN 0-563-53851-1)






 The Unnoticed are a

 race bound to keep

 itself isolated from

 all history, or face

 a complete collapse

 from existence.
 The Book of the Still

 is a lifeline for time

 travellers WHO ARE


 your location, sign

 your name and be

 instantly rescued.


 When the Unnoticed

 learn that within

 the book someone

 has revealed both

 their whereabouts

 they are forced into

 murderous interce-

 ssion to find it.

 Fitz knows where it

 is, but then he's the

 one who stole it.


 Carmodi, addicted to

 the energies trapped

 in time travellers,

 also knows where it

 is. But THEN she's the

 one who's stolen Fitz.


 Anji, WHO'S alone

 on a doomed WORLD,

 trying to find SOME

 evidence of a race

 that has never had

 the decency to exist,

 doesn't know where

 anybody is.

 Embroiled in thIS

 deadly chase, the

 Doctor is starting

 to worry about how

 many people he can

 keep alive along the



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The Book

of the Still

MAY 2002






It’s rare to find a new Doctor Who novelist that rolls up with the gumption that Paul Ebbs did in May 2002 with his Book of the Still. The novels cover and blurb concisely capture the enthralling eccentricity of its central concept, and once inside the reader is faced with a story that opens with an epilogue and only gets more brazen from there. Most palpably of all though, the distinctive voice of the author really stands out in a range largely dominated by a small clique of contributors. By turns whimsical, incisive and often outright mischievous, the Bernice Summerfield playwright shepherds his readers through an adventure that might not be quite to all their liking, but that they aren’t likely to forget in a hurry.


The Book of the Still is sold on the strength of its captivating premise. The titular tome is a lifeline for stranded time travellers - should you find yourself marooned in a spatio-temporal backwater somwhen, all you need to do is jot down your name and location in the book and you’ll be instantly rescued. It’s a conceit that succesfully fires the imagination, particularly in the Time Lord-free universe of the latter day eighth Doctor novels.



Ebbs’ antagonists are

similarly inspiring. As

their name suggests,

the Unnoticed are a

race who exist in a

state of perfect iso-

lation for fear that,

should they reveal

themselves to history,

they might somehow

unravel their existence.

And somebody’s only gone and written down precisely where and when to find them in the Book of the Still, prompting a murderous frenzy on their part as they desperately attempt to locate the offending volume.


Unfortunately I found that the narrative didn’t satisfactorily pay off either its enticing premise or its intriguing villains. For all its mythic splendour, the plot languishes on Lebenswelt and the comparatively routine events unfolding there, whilst the potentially provocative evolution of the Unnoticed is passed over in favour of a tidy “closed circuit” resolution. Reading the book, I had expected Ebbs to forge some sort of link between the Unnoticed coming into existence – from the Doctor’s point of view, that is – and the erasure of Gallifrey. Instead,

he just mangles a few bodies.


In fairness though, whilst the story didn’t live up to my lofty expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ebbs’ twisted take on Doctor Who staples. His tale flits between blazing new ideas and almost comically trite clichés, as if he’s trying to use the former to pass comment on the latter. For instance, we have the Doctor imprisoned by the Lebenswelt authorities… but he botches his escape attempt and ends up having to serve a significant amount of hard time; we are introduced to a new potential companion, Rhian… but Anji absolutely loathes her; and, perhaps most blatantly of all, we have a trademark Fitz romance … one that’s literally programmed by numbers.


The story is also littered with some absolutely stunning moments ticking all manner of boxes. The Doctor / Fitz coda is as emotive as their sitting on a book and setting the controls for the heart of the sun is exciting, for instance. The little touches are all there to be appreciated too - everyone on Lebenswelt wears big, baggy shirts, much to Fitzs delight; previous jewels lie in the street as rubbish; and, rather presciently, the Doctor dances.


In sum then, The Book of the Still is burning with bright ideas and lovely writing, but there is something skewed in the execution that means it doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its billing. It’s an incredibly promising debut nonetheless, and therefore a great pity that Ebbs has never had the opportunity to pen a further Who tale. He’s certainly one scribe that I’d be keen to hear more from in the future.


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.

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