THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "TOUCHED BY
AN ANGEL" AND THE
AUDIO BOOK "THE EYE
OF THE JUNGLE."
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN JUNE 2011.
1910: an unsuspecting thief finds himself confronted by grey-skinned creatures that are waiting to devour his mind.
2789: the remains of an ancient android are dredged from the Thames. When IT HAS BEEN reactivated it has a warning that can only be delivered to a man named 'the Doctor'.
The Doctor and his friends must solve
a mystery that has spanned a thousand years, AND If they
fail, the Squall will devour the world.
“Paradox Lost” is probably my favourite title for a Doctor Who novel since “Return of the Living Dad” (which nothing can match for punning brilliance). Now that’s out of the way, I can focus on the book. George Mann is a successful author who is no stranger to the Whoniverse, despite this being his first Doctor Who novel. What a shame we’ve had to wait so long for such a thing. Paradox Lost is a cracking adventure. There’s a tantalising set-up: when visiting 28th century London, the Doctor, Amy and Rory are witness to the wrecked remains of an ancient android being dredged from the Thames. This android has a message for the Doctor, delivered with its last “breath.” He’s been down in the murky depths of the river for almost a millennium. There’s nothing for the Doctor to do, but to go back and investigate.
The Doctor’s worried, and with good reason. The Squall are coming, and these monstrous creatures are amongst the few adversaries that actually seem to leave the old Time Lord palpably afraid. Someone in the London of 2789 has been messing around with time, and this can only be what has let the Squall in from their dimension. While Amy and Rory are sent to investigate these time travel experiments, the Doctor heads back in the TARDIS to 1910. The Squall must be stopped, or else they will devour the world.
The Squall are a fabulously nasty creation. Vicious, razor-clawed gargoyle-like creatures, they exist in a realm outside of time, breaking through where the fabric is thin in order to feast on linear life forms. Psychic parasites, they absorb the mental energy of their prey. In a grotesque flourish, this process makes their victims bleed heavily from the eyes. They might have to tone that down, but otherwise the Squall would be a frightening and effective monster for the television series. Although it might blow the budget - there are millions of them.
The Doctor is, of course, in his element in 1910. Almost immediately, he crosses paths with Professor Angelchrist, a scientist, natural philosopher and paranormal investigator. It’s clear that before they meet, Angelchrist has had just as eventful an adventurous a life as the Doctor. There are plenty of untold stories here. Though they join forces to battle the Squall, and rapidly acquire a mutual respect for each other, to begin with the relationship between the two is strained. The Doctor is immediately impressed and enthusiastic, but Angelchrist is gruffly put out by this apparently young interloper who barges into his laboratory as if he owns the place. Quite wonderfully, Angelchrist dismisses the sonic screwdriver as “over-engineered!” However, despite his great experience, he is an old man who is coming to believe that his best days are now past. Meeting the Doctor galvanises him, giving him a new lease of life.
To begin with, the future section of the narrative lags behind the past segment. For all the impressive technology on display in this futuristic London, the setting simply lacks the thrill of the Edwardian adventures that the Doctor enjoys. However, once the couple meet Arven, their android saviour, and get to the bottom of the dangerous temporal experiments, thing pick up. Events are rapidly accelerated into a bloody battle with the Squall. Still, it seems Mann agrees that this setting isn’t as much fun, because soon the three battered heroes are heading back to 1910 in an experimental time ship. The only problem is that it’s never travelled back this far before… and so the paradox of the title becomes apparent. This trip back is what opens the rift that lets in the Squall, a trip that only occurs as a consequence of the investigations into the Squall’s manifestation. Cause and effect become confused, and poor Rory has a terrible time getting his head round it.
Once this hopping around time is over and the TARDIS crew have been reunited, the final battle against the Squall is set up. My only problem with the encounters with the Squall is that they are rather too easily dispatched with a whine from the sonic screwdriver; although they become more powerful in greater numbers, they still don’t live up to their terrifying reputation. Yet the action sequences work beautifully because they are centred around one of the best TARDIS teams that we’ve had for a long time. Not only does Mann perfectly reproduce the loving yet strained relationship between Rory, Amy and the Doctor, but the addition of Arven and Angelchrist adds to this. A very nice touch is the understated respect that the Edwardian professor and the futuristic android have for one another. There’s also the looming knowledge that at some point, a devastated android must end up at the bottom of the Thames. All through the deadly encounters with the Squall, we’re hoping that somehow Arven’s fate can be averted. But then, the Doctor would never get his message, and the loop would unravel into paradox…
Paradox Lost succeeds as both a strong adventure novel and as a possible blueprint for a future episode; it’s easy to see this being adapted for the screen. Action-packed yet with genuine emotion, and with memorable guest characters, this is a triumphant adventure. I hope very much that Mann returns to the range in the future, and that he brings Angelchrist and Arven with him.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2011
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This novel’s blurb does not offer any clue as to its placement (beyond that it must take place after Amy and Rory’s wedding in The Big Bang, but prior to Melody Pond’s birth in the closing moments of The Almost People). We have have therefore placed it, together with its two sister books, between The Doctor’s Wife and The Rebel Flesh (this being the closest possible placement to the last broadcast episode on the date of release).
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