Arguably the best thing that happened to Doctor Who after the original television series ended in the Eighties was Virgin's range of New Adventures, a set of novels that presented Doctor Who stories that were too large to ever appear on the telly. And in this excellent range, a number of excellent authors came to light. And arguably the best of these was the only female author, Kate Orman. Orman wrote Doctor Who that not only featured cool science fantasy ideas that transcended one time and place but she also took the opportunity to deconstruct the characters she was working with, especially the Doctor. And her prose was the kind that wouldn't let you put the book down.
When the licence for Who novels was reclaimed by the BBC, Kate and her husband Jon Blum became co-writers and produced a cracking trio of novels. This novella is their latest, but let's hope not their last, offering.
It's a pseudo-historical story of the kind Who revels in, marrying science-fantasy concepts of time sensitives and extra-dimensional entities with classical Greek mythology and elements of Greek history and traditional horror. The whole is a pleasingly edible feast of plot and character, with the beautiful, fragile relationship between the Doctor and Alcestis as teacher and pupil at its heart.
And as an easter egg for the long-time Who reader, here is the best resolution we'll probably get to something that happened to the Doctor in the BBC novel The Ancestor Cell.
If you've never read a novel by Orman and Blum, start here and then seek out their other stuff. It's a cut above almost all TV sci fi spinoffery.
on 29 October 2004
I must admit to being very disappointed with most of the Telos novellas released so far. I've come to the conclusion that a large part of this dissatisfaction is due to the fact that I'm a very `traditional' fan, and the majority of stories so far fall way outside the scope of a `traditional' Who story. The only book I've felt worth keeping from the range so far, is Foreign Devils - probably the most traditional of the lot.
After reading the latest novella Fallen Gods, I felt obliged to put fingers to keyboard and express my opinion. Lets get this out of the way first - I'm not a Kate Orman fan. In my opinion, her books have generally been readable, but not much more, and Left Handed Hummingbird is easily one of the worst DW novels ever written - a DW book in name only with the 7th Dr being totally unrecognisable. So, my opinion of Fallen Gods?
Kate Orman has perpetrated the worst sin an author can commit - she's bored her readers! When I received the book in the mail, I was pleased to note that it was the longest novella so far released. By the time I was about 10 pages in, I started wishing it had been the shortest. I was bored with this novel almost from the first page! The pace was morbidly slow, the plot virtually non-existant, the main characters uninteresting and the 8th Doctor unrecognisable (maybe I've missed something in all my years of watching and reading DW, but how often did the Doctor go around killing his `companions' because they didn't do what he wanted them to?)
As a (very) short story, this may have been redeemable, but as a 140 page novella, don't bother.