THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TV STORIES "CARNIVAL
OF MONSTERS" AND
"FRONTIER IN SPACE."
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-
IN AUGUST 2002.
In England a hotel
worker has been
turned to stone, an
ancient lake has
vanished, and the
inmate of a mental
hospital is being
terrorised by unseen
is dealing with a
local and relatively
Troy Game, a refugee
from the planet
Caresh, is not so
certain. She believes
destruction of her
home world is
somehow linked to
the events on Earth,
and she is pinning her
hopes on the Doctor
to avert the
interfere with a
planet's destiny? And
should he risk his
new-found freedom to
The Suns of Caresh
“The Suns of Caresh” has the boldest and certainly the most captivating front cover of all the BBC Books’ Past Doctor Adventures published to date, and I am pleased to be able to say that newcomer Paul Saint’s extraordinary novel certainly warrants such distinguished binding.
Striking cover artwork aside, I do not think that there are many who would disagree with me when I say that “The Suns of Caresh” is a story that really takes the reader by surprise. I was utterly enthralled with it from start to finish; something that came as a real surprise to me, given that I had subconsciously prejudged the book as being just another season ten throwaway space romp for the third Doctor and Jo.
As it happens, “The Suns of Caresh” relies very little on the Doctor and Jo or even their
usual trappings. Although the author portrays both characters very well indeed – Jo especially so – when reading the book I did get the impression that the seventh Doctor and Ace, or the sixth Doctor and Peri, for instance, would have fitted this story almost as well. Why I think it works so well for the third Doctor and Jo is that for once we do not have them out in space (at least, not wholly) or confined to Earth in the 1970s (or 1980s, depending on your take on UNIT dating). Instead, they spend much of the novel in 1999 - Jo’s personal future - allowing Saint to cast of the limitations and preconceptions usually imposed on the third Doctor, and to make some very interesting observations through Jo at the same time.
The 1999 sections of the novel are without a doubt my favourites. There is simply so much going on, and it is all so very well written, not to mention imaginative. One of the most exciting things about reading the work of a new Doctor Who writer is that they generally
bring so many fresh and innovative ideas to the table, and whilst arguably Saint could have let his ideas bleed through in more undemonstrative manner, the glut of material here is enormously satisfying, albeit in a fanwanky sort of way.
Saint’s inclusion of the Time Lord Roche, for example, allows him to have some tremendous fun with his story. And one point the character is hit by a bus, and starts to regenerate in public. Panic stricken, the Doctor covers Roche’s face with his coat, but once the blanket is removed it is revealed that Roche has regenerated into an exact copy of the Doctor’s body! And it does not stop there. Roche’s TARDIS has a floor scanner, a bit like a catamaran, giving the pilot a bird’s eye view when the ship is operating in hover mode. And there is more…
But for me, the real sensation of “The Suns of Caresh” is Troy Game, a female native of Caresh who without warning finds herself marooned on Earth. What Saint does with the character is neither pioneering nor really all that inventive, but it reads bloody well all the same. Through Troy Game’s eyes, the alienness of our culture and planet are conveyed wonderfully. Her inability to comprehend our lack of a ‘fertility season’ and our need for clothes lead to some predictable and understandably humorous misunderstandings, but to my surprise they also led to a lot of pathos. The gloomy fate of Simon (“Sai-mahn”), the poor science fiction geek that takes her in, looks after her and – surprise, surprise – falls in love with her, is harrowing in the extreme. It is all the more disturbing considering how closely Saint’s portrayal of Simon mirrors the lives of some Doctor Who fans.
Above all else though, “The Suns of Caresh” is a science fiction novel through and through and as such the plot is built on a couple of fascinating scientific notions. Caresh, for example, is a remarkable planet that’s orbit carries it from orbiting one star, Beacon, to orbiting another, Ember, every so many years. The practical result of this is that the world
flits from ice age to affluence in the blink of an eye, and so to better prepare themselves for the hard times, the natives had to invent a device to predict the future for them. A device that the hegemonious Time Lords are not prepared to allow them to keep…
We also have a character suffering from Jeapes’ Syndrome; a proper Benjamin Button character who lives his life backwards, causing time to fracture all around him. It takes the Doctor a little while to work out that the time anomaly he is investigating begins in the future, but like “All Good Things…” he gets there in the end.
“Are you going anywhere special on your holidays this year ,sir?”
Overall, I cannot do anything but recommend “The Suns of Caresh” unequivocally. I would
not contend that it is perfect, mind; the last few chapters on Caresh feel rather rushed, and some of the science here is such that I think that I will need to have another read of it before
I fully understand everything that went on. Even so, if for no other reason than to see the Doctor squirm awkwardly as Jo shaves off his bouffant, this book really is one that everyone must read. A real classic.
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.
This novel’s blurb offers no clues as to its placement, however the text suggests that it takes place between the television stories Carnival of Monsters and Frontier in Space.
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