THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIOS
DILEMMA" AND "
THE DARK FLAME."
OFFICIAL TELOS DELUXE
HARDBACK (ISBN 1-903
889-05-7) RELEASED IN
In the city-state of
Hokesh, time plays
tricks; the present
is unreliable, the
future impossible to
intimate. A derelict
street child, Joey
Quine, finds himself
subject to horrifying
visions and fugues.
His only friend in
this is a mysterious
stranger who calls
And in an unknowable
future the Doctor is
inciting a state of
bloody unrest, on
the basis that one
must be cruel to be
kind. The Glorious
Ruler of the city is
worried: his memory
is failing him; his
him; his city falling
apart. JUST What is
happening to him?
Only the Doctor
knows - and he’s
Citadel of Dreams
The second novella from Telos is designed as a reflection of the first; bound in inverted colours and set just after the end of the original series, as Time and Relative was set just before it began. Andrew Cartmel, script editor of the series at its close, provides an introduction, lending it a feel that it belongs at that part of the Doctor Who canon. But, is it any good? Does it reach the standards set by its predecessor?
Well, personally, I enjoyed it. Nevertheless, Dave Stone is an author that really divides fans. Some, like me, love his thick, purple prose; others can’t stand it. I have always enjoyed his books – I loved Sky Pirates, Heart of TARDIS, even the much-maligned Slow Empire. His prose style, with its complex, twisty similes and fruity vocabulary appeals to me. However, Citadel of Dreams has prose even thicker than usual, and it is wearing at times. Thankfully, the novella format makes it an easier story to work through – and yes, it is like work at times. It’s not just the prose, it’s the structure of the story. Told mainly from the perspective of Joey Quine, a young man on the streets of the city of Hokesh, it can be rather baffling, as he’s an alien character describing an alien environment. This does have the benefit of keeping the peculiarities of the Hokesh society, clear in hindsight (well, relatively clear), hidden until later in the book, when the viewpoint slowly shifts to Ace. Still, the constant changing of time frames is tricky, not because that is a confusing narrative method in itself, but because it reflects that time in Hokesh, on a planet orbiting the singularity at the centre of the Galaxy, suffers from disruptions in time.
The Doctor and Ace barely appear for much of the story – the Doctor hardly shows up at
all, mostly operating from the sidelines. I love Stone’s des-cription of his arrival in Hokesh:
“Had any erstwhile passers-by so much as noticed [the TARDIS], they might have found
themselves wondering just what might have emerged. In the event, and not, it must be
said, without a certain degree of anticlimax, it turned out to be a man of smallish frame
and what might have seemed a rather fussy demeanour, despite the careless rumples
of the pale suit he wore.”
Ace comes off better, a right sarky cow who’ll take no nonsense
from Joey, even if the Doctor has told her to watch over him. The
thing that troubling Joey is that he’s suddenly developed powerful
psychic abilities. Although these are a boon to start with, allowing
him to affect people’s minds to make them help get him off the
streets, soon he finds himself taken under control by the ‘Thing’
inside him, acting far against his nature.
Hokesh is richly depicted as slowly the weirdness of it becomes
apparent. Apart from the slug-like Dracori that roam the streets,
the humans here don’t exactly eat, the sewers carry clean water,
mindless police drones enforce the peace, and there are strange
mutterings of a child coming…
However, once the truth of this strange world is explained, it’s easy to feel as if you have missed something. I found myself going over a few passages more than once. Everything
is explained, but you have to really pay attention to take it all in, and make sense of how the Doctor’s final exposition relates to the world of Hokesh. It’s easy to feel that there’s been an awful lot of talk, but that it’s passed you by without your quite paying attention. There’s a lot
to enjoy here, but you really have to work for it.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2009
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Whereas the first of the Telos novellas took us to a time and place shortly prior to when Doctor Who began, its second catches up with the seventh Doctor and Ace not long after the television series ended. The grandiloquently-titled Citadel of Dreams by “love him or hate him” Doctor Who veteran scribe Dave Stone is a delectably written and conceptually staggering piece of work, but one that, I’m sad to say, I just couldn’t follow.
“You’re very important in the scheme of things, apparently -
whatever little scheme it is he’s got in his head this time.”
Stone’s story is set within the confines of a city close to the centre of the galaxy where reality is fluid, and time exists simply as “before” and “after”. The prevalence of the narrative follows the exploits of an intriguing young street urchin, Joey Quine, who over the course of the story begins to wield a series of extraordinary psi-powers; psi-powers that pique the interest of a certain iterant Time Lord…
The author’s prose is typically luscious; so much so that certain, mesmeric passages have been burned into my brain forever. The initial materialisation of the TARDIS, for example, is not only deliciously described but presented in such a way that it makes the reader question the very mechanics of this universe that we all think we know so much about. Ace’s effortless rationalisation of the city is similarly provocative.
“...though to all external appearances it was merely a rather shabby blue box, with nothing
about it as such to remark upon, there was a sense of solidity about it, a sense of reality
that by contrast made its surroundings themselves seem a little ghostly. It was as if some
solid and definite object had been placed before a painted scenes that had hitherto see-
med perfect and true to life. Or rather, it was as if a hole had been torn in that painting to
show the true scene beyond.”
And whilst I struggled to get
a handle on the plot, I was
fascinated by the contrast
between Newman’s portrayal
of the Doctor in Time and
Relative and Stone’s interp-
retation of him here. Time
and Relative presented us
with a Doctor reticent to the
point of callousness; Citadel
of Dreams, on the other hand, presents us with the scheming and near-omniscient “Time’s Champion” of the New Adventures. It’s funny what a few hundred years of time and space travel will do to one’s mindset.
Nevertheless, though I always applaud experimentation, for me this one doesn’t really cut
the mustard. When purveying a ‘Doctor-lite’ story, a writer is walking a tightrope right from the start, and so when also considering Ace’s limited role and the sheer intricacy of the plot here, Citadel of Dreams just doesn’t feel like Doctor Who.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Authorial intent places this novella immediately after Survival, mirroring Time and Relative’s placement immediately prior to An Unearthly Child. However, the Doctor is described as wearing his pale, post-White Darkness outfit here, and whilst we all know that he is capable of changing his outfit, in practice he seldom does. The characterisation also smacks of the ‘New Adventures’ Doctor. Furthermore, the tight continuity between Survival and Timewyrm: Genysys makes an immediately post-Survival placement improbable in
As Bernice Summerfield isn’t in tow here, we believe that this adventure takes place during the period where Bernice is occupied on Deep Space Research Centre Orbos. We have therefore placed it shortly after The Prisoner’s Dilemma, which sees the Doctor and Ace reunited.
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