THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "LOVING THE
ALIEN" AND THE BIG
OFFICIAL BBC 'PAST
RELEASED IN DECEMBER
New Mexico, 1945. The
Second World War is
coming to its bloody
conclusion, and in the
American desert the
race is on to build an
atomic bomb. The fate
of the world is at
stake in more ways
Someone or something
is trying to alter the
course of history at
this delicate point.
Posing as a nuclear
scientist with Ace as
his assistant, the
Doctor MUST play
detective among the
to avoid suspicion
As the minutes tick
away to the world's
first NUCLEAR blast,
the Doctor and Ace
find themselves up to
their necks in spies,
aliens of the flying
saucer variety, and
some very nasty
Atom Bomb Blues
And so BBC Books’ eight-year run of Doctor Who Adventures draws to a close
much in the same way that the classic television series did. No official cancellation; no big last story - just the seventh Doctor and Ace doing their thing.
Sadly though, Atom Bomb Blues lacks both the weight and the substance of Survival, and indeed of most of the seventh Doctor’s adventures since across the spin-off media. This frivolous romp is probably more analogous in tone to this year’s television tie-in novels than
it is any recent seventh Doctor offering. Now this is quite shocking given that this novel has come from the pen of Andrew Cartmel – script editor of the series during Sylvester McCoy’s tenure, and architect of the ‘Dark Doctor’ that would flourish in Virgin’s New Adventures as well as other spin-off media.
“Ace had seen a documentary about Hiroshima once at school
and she hadn’t been able to eat kebabs for nearly a year afterwards.”
For what it is though, Atom Bomb
Blues does its job fairly well. Los
Alamos and the Manhattan Pro-
ject make a great setting for a
Doctor Who story, and the odd
character – take, private eye
cum author Major Butcher, for
instance – are, in point of fact,
when compared to the plot which
is, regrettably, where it all falls
For starters, the onus really has shifted 360° since the New Adventures, and unfortunately it is not for the better. The Doctor of this novel may be the same master manipulator that we saw in Cartmel’s New Adventures trilogy, but whereas in those wonderful books he pulled the strings from afar, here he is right in the middle of every scene, driving the plot forward. Consequently, much of the drama is lost – the Doctor has pretty much everything sussed right from the start, and none of his opponents can touch him. Now whilst there is certainly nothing wrong with portraying the Doctor in this way, it just doesn’t work dramatically when
he is right in the thick of things, casually brushing aside the opposition.
Worse still though, following one big twist in the tale (which, to be fair, I didn’t see coming
at all) the whole logic of the story falls apart. That old parallel universes chestnut – again – opens up a real can of worms here - why do the inhabitants of 1945 New Mexico have their counterparts living in the 21st century? How will the complete destruction of one universe alter history in another? And what was all that about with the Native Americans and the crab creature?
“Excellent. Vivid. Sharp. Hilarious! Wickedly subversive!
Concise and beautiful. Verging on the profound.”
And so, as much as I would like to be, I can’t be as kind in this review as the Doctor was in his assessment of Major Butcher’s work. Neither concise nor beautiful, and certainly not profound, Atom Bomb Blues is a bottom-drawer knockdown run-around that does what it says on the tin and nothing more. If you want something more substantial, my advice would be to get yourself logged on to eBay with a view to hunting down copies of this author’s infinitely superior New Adventures trilogy.
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 guidance as to its placement. We have therefore placed it at the end of the cluster of BBC Books featuring the seventh Doctor and Ace, simply because it was the last to be released.
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