THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
DAVID A. McINTEE
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN JUNE 1993.
The TARDIS lands in
Haiti in the early
years of the First
World War, And the
Doctor, Bernice and
Ace FIND THEMSELVES
EMBROILED IN a plot
Zombies and German
spies. And perhaps
something far, far
David McIntee’s debut Doctor Who novel is one that is sure to whet the appetites
of most readers. Bringing the Doctor and his companions back down to Earth after a lengthy run of outer-space adventures, this vividly-drawn pseudo-historical sees the TARDIS land on Haiti in 1914, which is teeming with zombies and voodoo magic (or, as I’ve learned from this book, zombi and vodoun!)
White Darkness certainly presents an eclectic mix of intriguing ideas, my favourite being the witch doctor Mait’s zombi drug, which turns people into mindless automata that can’t be hurt via conventional means - ideal soldiers for the Kaiser’s war on Europe.
I also like how the author handles the TARDIS crew, especially the two companions. McIntee gently explores the new, older Ace’s troubled psyche satisfactorily, continuing the character’s ‘rehab’, as it were, without short-changing Bernice, who enjoys her meatiest adventure here since The Highest Science.
The author’s portrayal of the
Time Lord is also interesting,
perhaps suggesting a change
of direction for the character. In
having the Doctor change into an
all-white linen suit, discarding the
dark jacket of the television series’ final season and the preceding novels, the author implies that his darker days are behind him, the hellish events of Lucifer Rising presumably having changed him forever. Presumably…
Unfortunately though, certain aspects of the story I found quite tedious. The mystifying ‘Old Ones’ are especially bland; even at the book’s conclusion we know no more than that they are powerful extra-dimensional creatures that have been pillaged from the works of HP Lovecraft. The author’s hazy rendering of them even feels discordant, given how detailed
his description of the island and the period is, particularly in the first eight or nine chapters
of heavy prose. Too much and not enough!
Fortunately the loosely-defined alien antagonists don’t detract too much from one’s enjoy-ment of the story, however. As McIntee’s story gathers pace in the half, many of his human characters really come into their own. The sadistic Richmann, for instance, leaves a lasting impression that rivals some of Who’s most memorable villains – the ‘cliffhanger’ moment involving Richmann, Benny and an old Steyr isn’t easily forgotten.
And so whilst White Darkness certainly has its flaws, on the whole it’s an engaging and
an engrossing read, not to mention a welcome change of pace. My favourite thing about it though is the beautiful oxymoron of a title, which had my interest well before I’d even read
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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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