THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AND "VANISHING POINT."
OFFICIAL BBC 'PAST
RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER
The 22nd Century: a
few short years of
have taught humanity
a hard lesson – there
are creatures abroad
that are nightmare
It’s a realiSation
that deals a body
blow to Man’s belief
in his superiority,
and leaves him with
the only option he
has ever had: fight.
When the Doctor, FITZ
AND ANJI are caught
in the crossfire, they
find THE HUMAN RACE
licking its wounds
and preparing for
But the fight against
alien forces is no job
for an amateur, and
for a Doctor only
just finding his way
in the universe again,
one misstep could be
In a word, Fear Itself is unique. Unique in that it was the only eighth Doctor novel to be published by BBC Books after their flagship eighth Doctor range had come to an end. Unique in that its front cover is, at a first glance, a complete (but striking) whiteout. Unique in that it saw a debutant novelist, Nick Wallace, secure an award for best book in 2005’s Jade Pagoda awards. Unique in that there’s nothing else out there even remotely like it.
It’s most interesting to read a book that was written after the event, as it were, its author fully cognisant as to what future adventures would have in store for the regulars. Whilst generally
I prefer to read stories that follow one another in the way that the New Adventures or indeed the eighth Doctor adventures did, revisiting an earlier period does allow a writer to address threads that might have been underdeveloped at the time or, as the case is here, criminally ignored. Having been afforded an illicit glimpse into BBC Books’ final eighth Doctor outing, The Gallifrey Chronicles, as he wrote this book, Wallace was able to examine the Doctor and Fitz’s relationship with the benefit of hindsight, probing their mutual doubts and fears and finally getting them to have that talk about the Doctor’s past and his missing memories.
Wallace is also able to do some fascinating things with Anji, who finds herself marooned in the 22nd century, the strange men who unwittingly abducted her in Escape Velocity having apparently been killed in an explosion. I love how the author is able to do so much with the character – she even gets married, quite shockingly – without having these events detract from her subsequent development or be struck from the record altogether. The elegance
of Wallace’s dénouement is effective on so many different levels, Anji’s fate giving her an affinity with the Doctor that feels resplendently apt.
However, Fear Itself is hard work.
Wallace’s prose is overburdened
with world building information, and
his unconventional, time-hopping
structure makes the story difficult to
follow. Those willing to put the extra
effort in are sure to be rewarded by
the labyrinthine twists and turns, but
more impatient readers are really
going to struggle, as I did this time
around. Matters aren’t helped by
the stale supporting characters and
nebulous threat. While the book’s title might sound all grand and romantic, its plot ultimately boils down to some old biological weapons and the viruses that they spread.
I’m not ashamed to admit that fluffier fan-pleasers Spiral Scratch and World Game, which were released either side of Fear Itself, were much better suited to my tastes, but there’s no accounting for those. This is a novel much harder and grislier than its peers; more striving. It’s not difficult to see why it enjoys such a soaring reputation as it’s probably the closest that the past Doctor adventures ever came to being high-brow Who, but you’ve really got to be prepared to put the work in.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
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 clue as to its placement, however the text refers to Mars being a bit closer to Earth than EarthWorld, suggesting that these events represent the Doctor’s second attempt to return Anji to London in 2001. Accordingly we have placed it between the novels EarthWorld and Vanishing Point.
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