THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "DEATH AND
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN MAY 1996.
You are cordially
invited to the wedding
of Mr Jason Kane and
Professor Bernice S.
Summerfield, to be
held in the village
of Cheldon Bonniface
out, that is. there
may not be a wedding
at all, Especially if
there is someone who
to prevent iT...
from Ice Warriors
to UNIT veterans, a
flirtatious Ace to a
very confused trio of
The Doctor has to
organise a buffet,
Roz has a mystery
to solve, and Chris
has a girlfriend
who used to be the
Virgin’s landmark fiftieth New Adventure – complete with a new cover design, a Sergeant Pepper-style poster, a poem, and even a song - is the literary equivalent of The Five Doctors. It’s every bit as self-referential and reflective as the 1983 special was, if not more so. And with Paul Cornell at the helm, Happy Endings is an absolute delight; I enjoyed every single page. Only the last couple of chapters felt lengthy and a bit dawdling as literally every little bit of New Adventures continuity is tied up. Forgive my crudeness, but this isn’t just fanwank – it’s a full on jism-fest. Even the ninety-odd year old Brigadier ‘regenerates’!
Irving Braxiatel. Ruby Duvall. Hamlet MacBeth. Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart. Lord Savaar. Sherlock Holmes. Doctor Watson. Dorothée ‘Ace’ McShane. The old UNIT gang (including
a geriatric, homosexual Mike Yates). Absolutely everyone is here. If you’ve read most of the forty-nine preceding New Adventures, then this book will come as a real treat; a reward for the loyal reader. There are far too many loose ends tidied up by this book to mention, but I do think it’s worth noting that the Doctor and Brigadier (pre-‘regeneration’!) share a quite intimate scene where the Doctor returns the Brigadier’s missing memories (of No Future)
to him, making him ‘complete’ again as it were. More importantly, the Doctor sort of gets
his original TARDIS back – the one that he lost on the parallel Earth of Blood Heat – as Muldwych allows the Doctor to transfer all the missing rooms from it back into his current TARDIS. I don’t know why, but the loss of the old TARDIS had been rankling me for a while.
It felt fundamentally wrong somehow. Dorothée’s time travelling motorbike was another nice touch – very Ace.
Nevertheless, if you’ve read none of the preceding New Adventures, then I would imagine that reading this book could be an altogether different experience. For one thing, Happy Endings isn’t overly action-packed. There’s a small threat posed to the proceedings by Rassilon’s mouse’s loom, the Master, and a lorryload of illegal ‘Bloom’, but the real threat
to the wedding comes from – surprise, surprise – the bride and groom themselves, and an old man-eating travelling companion of the Doctor’s…
It’s exciting to see Ace (or should I say Dorothée?) and Benny back together again. Their girly chats in the pub are enlightening – who would have thought that Ace lost her virginity to Sabalom Glitz? – and, at least until Dorothée sets her sights on the groom, it’s great to read about Dorothée and Benny being civil to one another and acting like they have really missed each other which – let’s face it – they have. Things do liven up a bit though once the cloning begins, mind - they end up with a Jason each, not to mention their own respective brace of Doctors!
Though the intentionally lightweight plot has been criticised by many, I like how Cornell has structured his story – particularly his use of Emily Hutchings, now a writer, who writes a novel that mirrors the events unfolding around her. The old ‘play within a play’ chestnut has never worked better. Emily even goes on her own little journey, though I do feel compelled to point out that it concludes with her sat naked in a field alongside the nude Doctor, Benny, Jason, Dorothée, and a bunch a ‘travellers’ from the future.
Whilst the story obviously focuses on
Benny, Happy Endings is also an
incredibly strong story for the Doctor.
The guilt of Benny’s torture in Just
War hanging over him, he’s doing
everything that he can to somehow
make it up to her. However, there’s
discernibly more to his melancholy -
he’s reached a palpable crossroads
within his own lives. He’s sick of the responsibility that comes with taking humans around the universe with him and involving them in his schemes. He’s made up his mind that he wants to go it alone.
Adjudicators Chris and Roz aren’t neglected either. For Roz, the events of this novel are like a dream come true as she gets to team up with her hero - the legendary Sherlock Holmes - and investigate a mystery. Chris, meanwhile, gets to enjoy a frowned-upon affair with young Ishtar Hutchings - the ‘empty’ baby that the Doctor poured the Timewyrm’s consciousness into about forty-five books since, now all grown up (and very tasty by the sounds of it). With the Timewyrm lurking in the back of her head bestowing all manner of special powers on her, Ishtar’s certainly a fascinating character – easily companion worthy, I reckon.
And after 291 pages of fights and frolics and fornication, this novel does exactly what it says on the tin: the title Happy Endings is wholly appropriate as Cornell gifts us a happy ending to each and every thread of plot. What’s more, with the Doctor plotting to take off on his own in the TARDIS at the story’s conclusion, Happy Endings could quite easily have served as an emotive finale to the New Adventures, leading us seamlessly into the Fox TV Movie...
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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