THE CLIMACTIC EVENTS
IN THIS STORY TAKE
PLACE DURING THE TV
'JAMES STEVENS &
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-426
-20467-0) RELEASED IN
President John F.
Dallas, Texas on 22
Now, the publication
of this volume
real reasons why the
President of the
United States had to
die and an incredible
plan to save the man
known as JFK!
disguised as a minor
off-shot of the United
Nations and an
terrorist leader who
has twice brought the
world to the brink of
Read the book they
tried to ban!
To summarise, I thought that “Who Killed Kennedy” (note the lack of the question mark in the title) would be completely rubbish. I could not have been more mistaken; it turned out to be one of the most genuinely refreshing and original Doctor Who novels that I have ever read. It is absolutely outstanding in every sense.
The fictional author ‘James Stevens’ hooks you right from the start with his gripping first-person narrative that takes the reader right from the date of ‘the London Incident’ (Yeti in the Underground!) all the way up to the present day. “Who Killed Kennedy” gives the reader the same kind of kick that one would normally get in reading an autobiography. Essentially you are not ready about the Doctor or his adventures; you are reading about the life of a man. His working life. His private affairs. His successes. His failures as a human being. His candour about his various misdemeanours only endear him to the reader further.
However, what is really interesting about this novel is that for the first time the events of the Doctor Who universe become interwoven with important dates in established history. Stevens’ tale gives us a new perspective on the early UNIT era – we see it how the public saw it. The D-notices. The cover stories.
All those lies.
The bulk of the novel focuses on Stevens’ life in the 1970s – his broken marriage, his success as a journalist and a writer, his growing obsession with UNIT, and his relationship with a very troubled woman named Dodo Chaplet (and incidentally, despite my loathing for Dodo, her fall from grace and ultimate providence as shown in this novel is so dreadful that even I thought she deserved a more pleasant fate). These events run concurrently with seasons seven and eight of Doctor Who, with the closing chapters set during the Master’s purported incarceration just prior to “The Sea Devils”. However, not only do we see the events of the stories through the public’s eyes, but we also see the fruits of Stevens’ investigations into them. Flip-sides to these classic stories. Little extras. It sews everything together beautifully… well almost.
The real author of “Who Killed Kennedy” – a bloke named David Bishop, apparently – makes no apologies for his barefaced disregard of established UNIT dating. Recent Virgin novels have gone out of their way to finally clear up some clear dates for key UNIT stories, yet here Bishop has purposely ignored them. To some extent, I can understand why. Bishop has obviously linked his UNIT dates (which are, more or less, in line with the transmission dates of the serials) to key events in recognised history so that he can fashion that feeling of gritty realism on which this novels thrives. I guess that if I had the opportunity to write a Doctor Who novel, I would probably have the same attitude – all fan-pleasing notions would be straight out of the window if they did not fit in with my story.
Despite the dating controversy though, Bishop does tie his story in with the “Downtime” novelisation in that he recognises the role that Group Captain Gilmore and the ‘Shoreditch Event’ played in the setting up of UNIT. And, in fairness, right at the end of the book there is
a bit of a cop-out where Stevens admits that his dates might be a bit wide of the mark, so even the most hard-boiled continuity buffs can fit this novel into their view of the Doctor Who world.
I really liked how the book very cleverly makes you sympathise with Stevens in his quest to uncover the truth about UNIT. When the operatives of government agency C19 begin systematically threatening him and systematically destroying his career and his life to try and make him cease his investigations, you do begin to wonder – are UNIT really the good guys after all? The answer of course is a resolute yes, but because of the way it is written “Who Killed Kennedy” challenges a lot of assumptions and really makes the reader think about UNIT, the Doctor and the role that they play.
Nevertheless, the novel is more than just a ‘best of UNIT’ or a literary clip-show. “Who Killed Kennedy” is a very dark and often very moving tale about the Master (known to the public as terrorist ‘Victor Magister’) mentally torturing UNIT troops and turning them into his own, brainwashed soldiers. Why? So that he can save Kennedy’s life and start a nuclear war. You can see where this is going. For history to stay on its proper course, somebody has to kill Kennedy… and it is not who you might instinctively think, although discerning readers will be able to work it out from about page 2 onwards!
And so, almost thirty-five years on, Doctor Who goes back to its origins and at long last we find out just who killed Kennedy. I do not think I can overstate the greatness of this book enough. As a Doctor Who fan obviously I Am exceedingly biased, but even so I think that as a piece of fiction this novel really stands up on its own – perhaps the reason for it not being released as part of the ‘Missing Adventures’ series.
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, and its scope is such that it examines many 1970s UNIT adventures from different perspectives. However, the climactic events of this story appear to take place just prior to The Sea Devils, whilst the Master is imprisoned on Earth (or at least should be), which from the Doctor’s unique temporal perspective equates to during The Curse of Peladon.
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