(ISBN 0-563-48608-2)







 1812. The Vishenkov

 household faces the

 advance of Napoleon

 Bonaparte. At their

 heart is the radiant

 Dusha, a source of

 inspiration for them


 Captain Pandorin,

 meanwhile, acts like

 a man possessed - by

 the Devil.

 2024. Fitz KREINER is

 under interrogation

 regarding a burglary

 and fire at the Krem-

 lin. The Doctor has

 disappeared in the

 flames. COL. Bugayev

 is investigating a

 spate of thefts on

 top of which he now

 has a time-travel

 mystery to unravel.

 5000. Lord General

 Kinzhal is ready to

 FINISH a world war.

 More than the enemy,

 his fellow generals

 fear what such a man

 might do in peacetime.


 What bridges these

 disparate events in

 time? Love will find a

 way. But the Doctor

 must find a better

 ONE. Before love sets

 the world on fire.


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Emotional Chemistry







Simon A Forward must be an acquired taste. Of all his works published to date,

I’ve only really enjoyed The Sandman, which puts me firmly in the minority, especially when

it comes to his magnum opus, Emotional Chemistry. Forward’s renowned eighth Doctor novel is not only imaginative and beautifully-written, but it’s also indulgent and romantic too, superficially ticking all my little boxes. Yet, for some reason that I’m yet to fathom, it doesn’t really do it for me.


The novel’s premise is one that is pretty much guaranteed to appeal to any discerning Who fan. Extrapolating much of its plot from a few lines of dialogue in Robert Holmes’ Talons of Weng-Chiang, this story sees the Doctor visit World War VI in the year 5000 – the conflict from which Talons tyrant Magnus Greel, here colourfully dubbed the ‘Butcher of Brisbane’, famously fled. Abounding with all manner of alluring ingredients from Zygma energy to Time Agents, there isn’t a page of this book’s 51st century passages that won’t please even the most cynical of fans.


However, there is more to Forward’s tale than brazen fan service. ‘While’ the Doctor tries to unravel the mystery of Lord General Razum Kinzhal, three thousand years earlier Fitz comes a cropper in 21st century Russia, and two hundred years before that Trix comes embroiled in the tumultuous affairs of the Vishenkov household. These threads, all linked by a woman with the name of a goddess and the magnetism to match, lend the story a much-needed sense of momentum, whilst at the same time showing off the depth of the canvas that Forward seems to effortlessly fill.


Forward also shows a real flair for character here. The tale is littered with vivid personalities that seem to leap off the page, and even those with whom we’re already familiar are, for the most part, handled with grace. Grifter Trix is really given chance to show what she’s capable of, convincingly changing her identity to match each new time zone that she finds herself in, and Forward even puts his own indelible stamp on the trademark Fitz Kreiner romance. The Doctor, meanwhile, finds himself spinning almost as many plates as the novel’s author, trying to save the world in the most unconventional of ways - by keeping two lovers apart. Forward demonstrates a real knack for introspection, his omniscient prose offering unfettered access to his characters’ thoughts and feelings almost without the reader being aware of it. It’s like osmosis.


However, whilst in isolation Forward’s portrayal of the Doctor is enchanting, when read as part of the series it does feel rather discordant. After learning what he did to Gallifrey and to his people in the previous novel, here it’s as if a reset button has been pressed. Rather than capitalise upon the trauma that must surely flow from this devastating knowledge, Emotional Chemistry actively runs from it, rendering the most overtly amnesiac Doctor that we’ve had since The Burning, and in a story where there are more nods to his past – more triggers, if you will - than ever before. Even considering what The Gallifrey Chronicles ultimately had in store, it still doesn’t still quite right.



My biggest complaint though

is unfortunately an overriding

one. For all its imagination,

scope, and flair, Emotional

Chemistry is incredibly dense

and even more inconsistent.

The prose is by turns fiercely

intense and absurdly whimsical,

the author toying with some truly

outrageous puns in some passages, only to deliver stunning, sensitive prose in others. The

plot is similarly beleaguered, exceptionally intriguing but completely convoluted. At times the

story felt so big that I wanted to take a few colossal strides back just to be able to appreciate it all, but the propinquity of the character drama wouldn’t let me.


Nevertheless, Emotional Chemistry remains to this day one of the most popular of all the eighth Doctor’s adventures, and, unlike most of its peers, it’s a novel that can quite easily be picked up and enjoyed in isolation. It’s a magnificent, sweeping marathon than transcends both time and reality, and sees love literally set the world on fire. If you’ve a proclivity for Who books that lean more towards the literary than they do the Target, then this volume is most definitely for you. Personally though, I’d rather stick with the more traditional tomes released either side of it…


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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