It was the city of angels, and the angels were screaming...


Los Angeles, 1947: multi-millionaire movie producer Harold Reitman has been murdered and the LAPD are convinced that drug dealer Robert Chate is the killer. Detective William Fletcher isn’t so sure - he believes that the man who calls himself the Doctor has a stronger connection to the crime than he’s letting on.


While the Doctor assists the police with their enquiries, Star Light Pictures are preparing to release their most eagerly anticipated movie yet, Dying in the Sun, a film that rumours say will change the motion picture industry forever.


Suspecting that the film holds secrets more terrifying then anyone could ever have imagined, the Doctor decides to do everything in his power to stop it from being released. In Hollywood, however, it is the movie studios that hold all the power...







Dying in the Sun







Having lost interest in the Virgin New Adventures shortly after the publication of The Dying Days, Dying in the Sun marks the first time that I’ve come across the work of Jon de Burgh Miller. Hopefully though, it won’t be the last.


Black Sheep’s gaudy, overstated cover did a tremendous job of putting me off this book before I’d started reading it, yet within just a few short passages Miller’s resplendently clichéd film noir prose had me spellbound. And whilst the style of Dying in the Sun is far from constant as it roves between different modes of pastiche, Miller’s story is always an essentially fascinating one. Better still, the themes that it wallows in certainly warrant exploration; more so than ever now, as we’re forced to live in a world where the celebrity is king and the likes of Channel 4’s Big Brother passes for entertainment.


To look at the plot first, I have to give Miller full marks for coming up with something that stands out as being so inventive (a feat that becomes ever more impressive as the Whoniverse swells). Although there has been a spate of science fiction stories written about beings living inside film or escaping from it, I’ve never come across a story where creatures (creatures called “Selyoids”, believe it or not) live inside a film (the eponymous Dying in the Sun) that adapts itself to suit and to ultimately control the moods and emotions of those watching it. It’s mesmerising stuff.



Further, the story’s setting is very redolent. The “Golden Age of Hollywood” is an ideal locale in which to explore the cult of celebrity that the author is evidently so keen to condemn, and of course it also serves as a beautiful backdrop for the main, movie-driven heart of the story.


Miller’s characterisation of the regulars is similarly evocative, though his actual use of the companions is questionable. Polly fares better than Ben does as she finds herself trapped by the shallow glitter of fame, but Ben is no more than a spare part really; a well-drawn spare part, I’ll concede, but a spare part nonetheless. This is hardly surprising though, given that this novel was originally written for a two-strong TARDIS team.


Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, conversely, is portrayed wonderfully and finds himself right in the thick of things, liaising with the local law enforcement. In fact, Miller’s Doctor is so reminiscent of Troughton’s performance that some of his dialogue borders on plagiarism. So much for nobody being able to capture the second Doctor in print.


Less positively, most of Miller’s supporting characters are forgettable, and because of the novel’s lampoonery it is sometimes difficult to see which parts of the novel are deliberately trite and which parts are genuinely a bit hackneyed. On the whole though, this bright and breezy effort is certainly one of the more memorable second Doctor novels that I’ve read, and it’s one that I’d strongly recommend to fans of the series’ fourth season.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.



This novel’s blurb places it between the television serials The Power of the Daleks and The Highlanders. Within this gap, we have placed it between the novel The Murder Game and the novella Wonderland, which it was released in between.


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