- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Dr Who; Television tie-in edition edition (16 May 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0426204700
- ISBN-13: 978-0426204701
- Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 11.4 x 18.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 923,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Happy Endings (New Doctor Who Adventures) Paperback – 16 May 1996
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Everybody, from Ice Warriors to UNIT veteran s, is attending the wedding of Jason Kane and Bernice S. Sum merfield. But there may not be a wedding at all since someon e is trying to sabotage it '
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HAPPY ENDINGS is primary the story of companion Bernice Summerfield's marriage to that horribly one-dimensional character from the previous novel. While the plot does make very few journeys outside that premise, it rarely wanders away from the wedding story for very long. After bringing the Relatively Happy Couple to the proverbial sleepy English village of Cheldon in the year 2010, the Doctor spends most of the story scurrying around, importing aliens from all over time and space. The characters amuse themselves in various subplots relating to the wedding. Most of the scenes and sequences are surprisingly short, but this just helps the novel maintain its pleasantly quick pace.
It should be mentioned, of course, that not all of the tie-ins to previous novels are successful. In fact, the book opens with a shockingly poor coda to THE HIGHEST SCIENCE, which only served to remind this reader of just how annoying that story was. Thankfully, the vast majority of the successive references are much more fun, and, indeed, much less awkward. Once the book really gets going, the past slips smoothly into the present, and while it's still obviously a continuity fest, it somehow manages to integrate these pieces well.
As for the plot, well, it's practically nonexistent. Which is a relief to be honest. The story is purely a romp and the narrative follows the romp in whatever direction it decides to lurch rather than sticking purely to plot lines. The result is hugely enjoyable and utterly unpredictable. It shouldn't come as a surprise that some of the book's least good moments are those when the plot rears its angry little head and demands attention. (The other least good moments are, of course, the now hopelessly out of date rec.arts.drwho in-jokes.)
I almost always enjoy the actual process of reading Cornell's prose, even in the books that I didn't like. And I think the writing here ranks with his best. The sentences and words have a wonderful free-flowing quality to them. They just pour gently off the page with me scarcely aware of the fact that I'm reading them. In other, weightier stories, Cornell would successfully use this to throw some stunning and shocking things at the audience. In this book, he manages to sneak some hilarious jokes under the reader's radar until the punch line leaps right off of the page for maximum impact.
It shouldn't (indeed, it can't) be forgotten that this is primary a book for the fans of the New Adventures, and it's almost impossible to appreciate it in any other way. Most of the great scenes are built around those whimsical set pieces that would most appeal to those warriors who have braved the prose that had come before. Some of the book's more successful passages include Sherlock Holmes and Roz Forrester solving a case together, the UNIT family getting one last story together, and Dr. Watson jealously regarding Benny's fiancé. Other moments, such as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart finally coming face to face, are unabashed attempts to stroke the average fan's funny-bone, yet they work.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this reading of HAPPY ENDINGS. Of course, the last time I read the book, I didn't have nearly as many New Adventures under my belt as I do now, so probably caught many more of the jokes this time around. But even the sections that weren't specifically funny were, at the very least, entertaining. And as a romp celebrating the past and present, it's hard to ask for more than that.
50 volumes of original "Doctor Who" novels was, make no mistake, a big deal. Where most tie-in novels supplement an ongoing TV series (the gold standard being "Star Trek"), the New Adventures of Doctor Who had a different aim: to replace a series that ended two years before the first book came out.
"Happy Endings" was penned by Paul Cornell, the first star of the NAs: in 1991, he became the first previously-unpublished author to get his first book deal through the "Doctor Who" book line. Cornell in this book writes the wedding of a character he created: Professor Bernice Summerfield, the first "Doctor Who" cast regular who never appeared on TV. And he places the book in the year 2010, in a setting he created: the pastoral British village of Cheldon Bonniface. Beyond that, Cornell also includes characters from nearly all of the 49 previous NAs, and is allowed to tie up several dangling plot threads from those earlier books.
Apart from all the celebrating and indulgent literary tricks, "Happy Endings" is not a book to be read on its own. There's not much plot, apart from the wedding and just a couple of minor alien nuisances. This is a flat-out camp comedy, and extremely British in style. Many characters burst into song (not an easy thing to do on the printed page). Peppered throughout are numerous asides on how Cornell presumably would like society to look in the year 2010: the English monarchy is dissolved, the whole country's gone vegetarian, and a Wiccan handfasting ceremony is the book's emotional touchstone.
In the end, when the humor and social commentary subside, "Happy Endings" remainss a charming novel. If you followed the earlier books in the series, you'll enjoy the return of all the prior characters. Certainly when a series reaches a certain point, it's allowed to rely heavily on its past (think how the 7th season premiere of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" concluded with a lengthy parade of every major villain from the show's past).
However, the line of original DW adventures that "Happy Endings" celebrated, ended less than a year later. Original DW novels are still published, but through a different publishing company, and with entirely different regular characters. Reading this novel so many years after publication is a lot like watching an old rerun of a TV reunion special. Hopefully, you'll be able to say that you remember all the great old moments, and this book will make you smile nostalgically, and just a little bit wistfully.
But another of Cornell's themes is that "Doctor Who" has become far more than just another TV series. On that note, that central message of "Happy Endings" remains true to this day.
New Adventures may find this book more rewarding,
but for those who haven't followed the entire run
will find this book too convoluted with appearances of characters from the previous 49
novels of the series. Adding to the plethora of
characters is a plot which lacks any real drive
and reading like a Saturday morning cartoon version of the classic science-fiction television