The Greatest Specialist in Time-Space Exploration (The Also People)

(22 comments)


I’ll Explain Later

The Also People is Ben Aaronovitch’s second New Adventure, and features a murder mystery in a utopian technologically advanced society modeled on the works of Iain M. Banks. It also largely resolves the plotline of Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart, although she’ll make two more appearances in the books. It’s highly acclaimed. Dave Owen admitted at the time that he was “tempted to say that The Also People is flawless,” while Lars Pearson more recently enthuses that it’s “meaty and domestic” and “deserves every drop of the hype.” Good thing, as there’s quite a bit of it - The Also People is ranked third on Shannon Sullivan’s rankings, with an 86.7% rating. DWRG summary. Whoniverse Discontinuity Guide.

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It’s November of 1995. Coolio is still at number one with “Gangsta’s Paradise.” A week later he’s unseated by Robson and Jerome with “I Believe/Up on the Roof,” which sees out the month. The lower charts are far more interesting this time: Everything But the Girl, Oasis, Blur, Madonna, Enya, Bjork, Bon Jovi, Boyzone, Queen, Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, and Def Leppard all chart, almost none of them with anything close to one of their best songs.  (Actually, Oasis chart with “Wonderwall,” which is at least one of their best known songs. Amusingly, it doesn’t hit number one in the UK, but does in the US.

In news, the big one is Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in Tel Aviv. Nine members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People are executed in Nigeria more or less on the behalf of Shell Oil. The US government shut down for a few days. Both Toy Story and GoldenEye come out in theaters. And Princess Diana gives her famed interview to Martin Bashir, scoring all-time record ratings for a current affairs program in the UK. Thrilling.

In books, The Also People. The last three novel entries have all, to varying degrees, dealt with a certain level of inadequacy in the quality of writing in the New Adventures line. This is, as I have said, probably the biggest barrier between them and bringing Doctor Who back in the long term. If you compare Head Games to its nearest new series equivalent, which would probably be The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, the biggest thing that jumps out is that the latter is, like everything to come out of the Davies or Moffat systems, a well-oiled machine in terms of the tightness of its storytelling. Even when the new series coughs up a complete turkey of an episode the basic mechanics of its storytelling are largely impeccable. Its worst episodes still hum with a unity of approach such that every detail is turned carefully towards the questions of storytelling and every beat of the narrative supports a thematic or emotional payoff.

On their good days the New Adventures can match that handily. But their good days are, if not quite few and far between, at least sporadic. The Also People is, however, one of their good days. And more than that, it’s a breezily effortless good day. Unlike Human Nature, which is spectacularly high concept as well as a damn good book, The Also People is relatively modest as a concept: a more or less straightforward lift of Ian M. Banks’s series of novels about the Culture. But the book is absolutely fantastic. So let’s do basic narrative theory for a day and sort out what that means. What is good storytelling in Doctor Who and why does it matter?

The most basic thing about The Also People is that it has something for all of its main characters to do. With a four-person TARDIS crew this is harder than it sounds. Consider how often characters were sidelined for episodes at a time in the first two years of the Hartnell era. Or how often Susan twisted her ankle. Or, more recently, how much trouble Season Nineteen had in managing its four-person cast. For the most part the small cast of Doctor Who is a benefit, simply because every story already has to do a lot of work introducing a new setting, a new batch of supporting characters, and all the new plot information. You still need enough characters to have multiple story threads, but four is stretching the limits.

But The Also People doesn’t just find things for four characters to do, it finds things that are wholly appropriate for each character. Roz and Chris both get romantic plotlines, but there are huge differences between them: Chris gets one that plays off of his wide-eyed naiveté and innocence, while Roz gets one that goes straight to her wearied and betrayal-filled past. Benny, on the other hand, ends up having to decide the fate of Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart, while the Doctor spends most of his time trying to solve a murder, with Roz getting a major chunk of that plotline as well.

Notably, none of these stories could be swapped around. Only Benny could deal with the Kadiatu plot. She’s the only one who would actually dither on whether to destroy Kadiatu to save the potential victims she might have in the future or whether to give her a chance. And more to the point, she’s the one who has been with the Doctor for long enough that he would plausibly trust her with the decision. The exchange in which she challenges the Doctor and demands that he not kill her, and where he hands the decision off to her only works because of the specific and lengthy history of those two characters. Roz and Chris haven’t been around for long enough for the exchange to have impact (and besides, haven’t met Kadiatu), and more to the point, would be too willing to just whack Kadiatu and get on with it.

That Roz and Chris’s love plots can’t be swapped is more obvious, but it’s also significant that Roz has to be the main investigator on the murder as a result. Her plot has to be the one that ends with her having to turn her back on her lover, and that requires that she be the one to solve the crime and implicate him. Meanwhile, Chris ending up with a kid he doesn’t know about is a problem that’s peculiar to him and simply wouldn’t work for either Roz or Benny, both anatomically and character-wise. Chris has to be paired with the still child-like Dep just as much as Roz needs to fall in love with the person revealed to be behind the murder.

That the Doctor’s plot can’t be moved around is perhaps the most straightforward. It’s rare that the Doctor gets a generic plot, after all. Even still, Aaronovitch manages to give him a plot that works specifically for the Doctor, as opposed to a generic sci-fi adventure plot in which he happens to be the hero. The Also People depends on the fact that the Doctor is in his own way as technologically advanced and sophisticated as the People, and that he’s the figure who might conceivably be as smart as any of them, God included. And it requires that he be the sort of person who has Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart on ice in the People’s hands, but hasn’t actually told anybody. You certainly could crash other sci-fi worlds into Ian M. Banks if you wanted to, but you couldn’t do this specific collision with any set of characters other than the Doctor and this specific trio of companions. If this book had still featured Ace it would have needed a complete plot overhaul to work.

This may seem like an incredibly obvious observation, but pause for a moment and consider just how many books fail at it. Head Games had almost nothing for which Roz was required, and little enough that needed Chris. Sky Pirates! did quite a good job with Roz and Chris, given that it was their second book, but they still got a generic “you’ve been captured by aliens” plot that could have been done with any companions. Even Original Sin didn’t really have room for everyone, keeping Benny in a secondary role alongside the Doctor and, later, Roz and Chris. And Original Sin relied on Roz and Chris to be straightforward cop cliches, whereas Aaronovitch begins working through Roz’s family background and personal history in considerable detail, turning her into a unique character as opposed to a stock part. (And also visibly sets up his intended finish for her storyline in So Vile a Sin, although, obviously, there were some wrinkles with that book.)

On top of this, everything in The Also People is turned straightforwardly towards exploring its theme. The main concept of the Culture series that Aaronovich is shamelessly appropriating here (as he jokes in the introduction, “while talent borrows and genius steals, New Adventure writers get it off the back of a lorry, no questions asked.”) is the exploration of an extreme utopia in which standard western ideas of individual liberty are perfectly honored. So the People form a sort of idealized future evolution of humanity - an idea that picks up on the evolutionary themes that Aaronovitch was playing with in Transit. Kadiatu, you will recall, was originally positioned as Earth’s response to the Doctor’s interference. So running through this entire story is the basic question of what long-term progress for humanity means. The question of whether Kadiatu can be allowed to live is, in effect, a referendum on humanity’s future and whether some utopian ideal exists for us or whether we’re just kinda screwed. The People provide a concrete example of utopia, and Kadiatu (along with Benny, Roz, and Chris) get tested against them.

Equally, of course, the People get tested against the humans, and, inevitably, the Doctor. Aaronovitch, like Banks before him, does not treat his utopia as the end of all conflict since, you know, that would make for a really crappy book. Familiar human problems recur in the People: jealousy, anger, betrayal, and the proliferation of assholes. The existence of two romance plots goes a long way towards this, showing effectively the ways in which the People can still value ordinary humans. Benny’s plot similarly points towards this, with the resolution being that her musing over Kadiatu creates a psychic link that allows Kadiatu access to Benny’s mind and thus stabilizes her.

But while the book muses on the issue of what flaws and foibles will persist into utopia, it stops short of the polemical (and in this regard shows a writer who’s matured considerably since Remembrance of the Daleks). This isn’t a treatise about Ben Aaronovitch’s personal vision of utopia, nor is it a diagnosis of humanity’s immutable flaws. Instead it’s a story that sets up certain types of characters useful for exploring those issues in situations that will lead them to explore them, and that then simply lets them go about their business. It’s not a novel of “big ideas,” which is, I suspect, more or less what Lars Pearson means when he says talks about “how little The Also People tries to impress you - but how much it does.” If anything the plot is downright old-fashioned, a nice old mystery on an alien world of the sort that Doctor Who has been doing since about The Sensorites or so. It’s even a well-structured mystery, which is quite a challenge in a sci-fi world. The reader can keep just about even pace with the people solving the mystery, never getting far enough ahead that it seems obvious, and never getting so far behind that it seems cheap.

The other details are spot-on as well. The supporting characters are distinctive, which is a particularly impressive feat when you consider that they have names like saRa!qava and aM!xitsa. The minor characters are delightful: people who have dropped out of People society to become fish, and a parachute who designs apple trees to grow on asteroids, all of which show the deep texture of the setting. There’s a glorious sense of whimsy that’s a wonderful contrast to the seeming hard-SF setting of the place - a discussion of the sheer intelligence and scope of the intelligences among the People is based on the unit of storage of “a childhood,” that is, the sum total of every detail and sensory impression that makes up a human childhood.

This gets at the other clever thing Aaronovitch does. The People are clearly a science fiction concept, but he hedges the book actively against the idea that Doctor Who should be based primarily on science fiction. The Doctor is described as actively believing in magical thinking - in the belief that “thinking or talking about something has a direct effect on the result.” (We call it alchemy around these parts) He is, as Bernice puts it, “its greatest exponent.” The People aren’t presented as the be-all and end-all of Doctor Who, but as another setting that can be used for stories. We see repeatedly that humanity is at worst just as interesting as the People, and at best considerably more so. (There’s a lovely moment in which the hyper-intelligent machines of the People admit that they keep organic life around simply because it’s more fun.)

And that’s what makes it damn fine storytelling. It’s a book full of ideas that expresses all of them through an engaging and well-structured plot that extends thoroughly and completely out of the characters in it. Theme, characterization, and event are indistinguishable, there’s not a detail out of place, and there are repeated moments of joy and triumph (Kadiatu’s ecstatic dance in celebration of her freedom, which leads the People to simply decide to throw a party around her, is a particularly wonderful moment, as is Benny’s dream of arguing morality with a Dalek, a Cyberman, a Sontaran, and Kadiatu in a bar. [“‘Davros, Davros,’ moaned the Dalek. ‘Get into an argument with a human and they always bring up Davros. Look, do you think we like the misshapen little nonomaniac? We’ve tried to do away with him more times than the Doctor has.”]) It’s one of those New Adventures that actually is good enough to be television, even though it delights in the freedoms offered by prose. And it demonstrates the sort of tightness and unity that makes the difference between a fun book for the hardcore fans and a book worth shoving into someone’s hands and telling them to shut up, sit down, and read.

Even the cover art’s damned good.

Comments

Iain Coleman 4 years, 7 months ago

Who is this Ian M Banks character? I've never heard of him.

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Abigail Brady 4 years, 7 months ago

This is the only New Adventures I've actually read (I was on an Aaronovitch kick over the summer and ran out of Rivers of London books). The idea of Doctor Who meets the Culture seemed fun, at the worst.

What I wasn't expecting was a meaningful examination of aspects of the Culture that Banks tends to leave underexplored. Banks focuses on Contact and Special Circumstances and Minds rather than the domestic stuff, like the child-rearing or even the People-internal murder mysteries that we see here.

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Nick Smale 4 years, 7 months ago

I must admit I was a little surprised that Phil didn't follow his Pop Between Realities on Snow Crash with another on, say, Consider Phlebas. He was right to identify Cyberpunk as a major strand in literary SF in the early 90s, but just as important (and arguably more influential on the New Adventures) was the New Space Opera, that re-invention of galactic adventure tropes that was found in the works of Banks, Stephen Baxter, Vernon Vinge, M. John Harrison, Alastair Reynolds, Paul McAuley, Peter Hamilton, etc.

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peeeeeeet 4 years, 7 months ago

You make some good, solid points here. I'm always prepared to give extra credit when a writer balances a large regular cast well.

You completely lose me with the "actually is good enough to be television" bit, that's been bubbling under for a few entries, though. I don't think the average quality of the NAs at this point is lower than much of the original series or the new series. You seem to think that Human Nature's success was that it effectively got "promoted" to television; I'd come at that from the other end and suggest that Davies pilfered a good idea in order to shore up his mostly weak third season, but even if we split the difference, would you really say that something of the standard of Original Sin would stick out as particularly poor amongst the likes of 42 or The Lazarus Experiment? And even that's a bit of a skew, since if Original Sin had somehow been made as a telly story in the nineties, its competition would have been the likes of Bugs, Crime Traveller or that version of Randall and Hopkirk with Vic and Bob in it. Assuming a budget could be scraped together to do justice to the talking slugs etc, wouldn't it piss on all of those series?

Fundamentally, I just don't know what you're getting at. Perhaps you think Doctor Who's natural home is television, and the best a story in another medium can aspire to is to be "great for a story that wasn't on the telly". Or maybe it's much more general and you think television is a more sophisticated medium and prose should be consigned to history. Cases can be made for both, but they do have to be made. My view is that television is a hostage to all kinds of fortune, and even with a talented cast and crew, there can be many slips between cup and lip. With a novel that's not eliminated but is greatly reduced, so occasionally one comes along that a reviewer can seriously describe as "flawless", in a way that they can't with even The Caves of Androzani, which is always going to have a silly waddling dragon in it. The new series suffers less from this, but I think that has less to do with more talented people being involved and more to do with the available computing power offering easier ways to paper over any cracks, all the way down to a basic cheat such as filmising. Journeys End is a perfect example of this: a swelling score, some good performances and a general sense of confidence effectively distracting attention away from some seriously odd or arbitrary story and character developments that would quickly die of exposure in a novel.

Television drama, at its most critically acclaimed, is often more novelistic (e.g. The Wire), but that approach is virtually impossible to pull off, because there're just too many opportunities for things to go off the rails - Babylon 5's final season being a good example.

The Also People is a great Doctor Who story. Not "great for a novel" or "great for a non-televised story" or "great for a piece of glorified fan fiction". It's a great Doctor Who story, full stop.

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BerserkRL 4 years, 7 months ago

an extreme utopia in which standard western ideas of individual liberty are perfectly honored

In other words, the way normal people interact already, politics aside.

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Iain Coleman 4 years, 7 months ago

I am put in mind of Randall Jarrell's definition of the novel as "a prose narrative of some length that has something wrong with it".

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 7 months ago

That I think a silly waddling dragon is a much smaller problem than an ill-conceived structure leading to a villain reveal is perhaps telling about my aesthetic priorities, but it remains the case. So in the end, I simply disagree that Original Sin would have looked that solid in the new series. I think it would have looked solid in the Davison or Colin Baker eras, but past that I'm not even convinced it was up to the standard of much of the classic series.

Well, actually, it probably would have been fine in the new series, but only after Davies did a near full rewrite of it, vetoed the villain, moved the structure away from building to a shock reveal of said villain, completely refocused the Zebulon Pryce scene to be about something other than the purely theoretical, and picked a clear single focus to throw out for the tone meeting. Which he undoubtedly would have done if given a script along the lines of Original Sin. And, more to the point, which Andy Lane should have done.

I'm unconvinced that the basic quality of effects raises the standard as much as you hope - I expect that the effects in Doctor Who will come to look as ropey as material from the mid-90s does today in due time. I think what will stand out, though, is that Russell T. Davies was a damned good editor who could maintain a baseline of quality in his scripts. It's not just the confidence and Murray Gold score that salvages Journey's End, it's that the structural pacing and choice of what constitutes a big scene is absolutely meticulous. That the logic is a mess in places is obscured primarily by the fact that all of the right scenes happen at the right time and have coherent senses of what they're about. But more on that in a year or so.

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 7 months ago

The density of reading this phase of the blog requires means that getting in as a Pop Between Realities entry at the moment has a somewhat idiosyncratic requirement for novels: they have to be things I've already read.

I'll add Consider Phlebas to my terrifyingly long list of "things to do when I hit the Big Finish era," after Catherine Valente's Palimpsest and before sleeping. :)

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peeeeeeet 4 years, 7 months ago

Well, you've done a bit of sleight-of-hand there - I wasn't comparing Androzani unfavourably to Original Sin, but to The Also People, which is the one Dave Owen was tempted to describe as flawless. A silly monster isn't a deal-breaker, but it is a patent flaw, and one the novel medium can more easily avoid.

Anyway, I'm not thinking so much in terms of effects - frankly a lot of the early part of the Eccleston season looked pretty ropey even in 2005 to any viewer of Battlestar Galactica - and more things like digital editing which made the process of assemblage of the raw materials into something that's basically watchable a lot less labour-intensive.

But we'll have to disagree on Original Sin - I think the structure and tone is fine, and I'm more bothered by the poorly structured build to a climax in The Lazarus Experiment, partly because there's not much else on offer and partly because at around 9000 words of scripting, there ought to be less heft required to get it right. And the tone of something like The Sound of Drums is much more all-over-the-place than Original Sin's, surely. (I should say that when I read Original Sin for the first time I hadn't encountered the villain and knew nothing about where he came from. I just went with it and enjoyed it for what it was.) And while I am with you on thinking the Zebulon Pryce stuff falls flat, the new series is hardly a stranger to ill-conceived moral debates.

I don't know, I just find this attitude a little like praising Tammy Baldwin's senate victory by saying, "this proves she's good enough to be a heterosexual man!". Gee, thanks...

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 7 months ago

Well, and it's misleading to say that I didn't like Original Sin. I quite did. But there are different bars to clear, and there is a natural reason why the basic standard of writing for the new series simply has to be higher than that of the New Adventures. Original Sin has to be good enough that people who might buy and read a Doctor Who novel will enjoy it. This is first an idiosyncratic form of good - Warchild, for instance, which I'm writing up today, is a pretty good book that fails to adequately target the audience it has. But second, it's a very narrow version of good. Appealing to a small and self-selecting audience is simply easier than what the new series has to do, which is to appeal to anyone who isn't immediately going to switch off BBC1 just because Doctor Who is on.

I'm certainly not going to say that broader appeal is always the superior form. Indeed, I think the many virtues of the Virgin line are things that only could have happened in the more marginal context they did happen in, at least for their first attempt. Part of the reason why Human Nature is better as a book than it was as a TV serial is that in the book Cornell painted a much richer and more troubled portrait of the Doctor's angst, whereas in the TV series it got collapsed into a much more straightforward narrative centered on the fetishization of David Tennant, and that's something that depends on the marginality of the novels.

But I do think that needing to appeal to people who won't buy practically anything with the Doctor Who logo on it forces some higher standards in places.

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Ununnilium 4 years, 7 months ago

Fled the conversation!

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Ununnilium 4 years, 7 months ago

Going back to the OP: Isn't "The Also People is a great story, regardless of medium" exactly what Dr. Sandifer said? And isn't Original Sin, at least in his opinion, not as good of a story as most of the new series, regardless of medium?

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Matt Michael 4 years, 7 months ago

I think The Also People is easily good enough to be on TV, but is - in this case - genuinely too wide (and maybe even too deep) for the small screen.

But then I think Ben Aaronovitch is the alchemical heir to David Whitaker and Robert Holmes, an one of the very best ever writers for the series. So what do I know.

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Daibhid C 4 years, 7 months ago

It's interesting that this comes shortly after you've compared Sky Pirates! to Discworld. Because while Sky Pirates! makes a pretty good fist at doing what Pratchett was doing in 1985, The Also People does a much better job of doing what Pratchett was doing in 1995, and does so while pastiching another set of narrative conventions entirely. (Then again, that *is* what Pratchett was doing in 1995...)

Admittedly, sometimes Aaronovitch does this by simply burying Discworld references in the text. (It's a fun game to spot them; my favourite is probably the street trader called C!Mot.) But sometimes he does it by creating the same pitch-perfect blend of comedy and Big Ideas as Sir Terry does, as in the dream sequence above, which discusses free will and the nature of evil in the context of two cyborgs and a electricity-feeding clone somehow getting completely hammered.

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Russell Gillenwater 4 years, 7 months ago

I have to say I noticed the same things that peeeeeeet did about the “actually is good enough to be television" trend in recent blogs and have to say that I do agree with much that he said in his previous two post.

I think the NAs like the Classic and Modern Series have stories that are great, average and some that are plain bad, but being on TV doesn’t inherently mean better. I will just add that appealing to a wider audience doesn’t equal quality. I for one have no problem saying that Original Sin is better than Stolen Earth / Journey’s End (when we get to that story I will have more than one thing to say why I loathe these episodes).

I will say Phil that you echo my feelings about Human Nature, in that the book is superior to the TV adaptation and said adaptation is my favorite stories of the Modern Series. This shows what I think of the book more than anything. Like Human Nature, I think The Also People is one of the greatest Doctor Who stories in any medium (so much so that I have it as 1b of my favorite Doctor Who stories ever, with Human Nature as 1a).

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Adam Riggio 4 years, 7 months ago

To me at least, this whole discussion seems like an effect of a shift in the temporal focus of the blog that has kicked into high gear with the entrance of the Wilderness Years, was one (among many) factor of analysis in the McCoy years, and was first suggested in the Trial of a Time Lord entries.

The blog began as a reading of the classic series in the context of its time. Given how much fan lore had been integrated with the orthodox accounts of these early stories, situating them in their social and political moments, and in the priorities of the writers at the time (David Whitaker in particular) let us discover dimensions of these stories that had been invisible at the time. Those dimensions were revealed through the technique of watching these shows with the mind-set of a viewer in the present time of their transmission.

Phil's analyses now have a clear telos in the future of the time period of the current essays: The 2004 resurrection of Doctor Who under Russell T Davies (potential nitpickers: I refer to the year the show was announced and began production, not its broadcast).

This has an important positive effect: We can see what elements of the current series had their genesis in the McCoy era and the Wilderness Years, a period that, given the current amazing success of Doctor Who, can be easily neglected as those sad years when Doctor Who was either barely watched or not on TV at all.

But it also has a negative effect: The telos of the resurrection under Davies and Julie Gardner obscures the meaning that each piece of Wilderness Years material Phil covers had in the context of its own time. Maybe there isn't as much to discover about this period. After all, most of us remember the Wilderness Years. At the very least, it's easy to find the records of the time because most of the public discussions existed on the internet, so will live as long as the Swedish server farms on which all our data rests. However, I think it marks a significant transition from the methods of the Eruditorum at its beginning.

I'll trust Phil's judgment on this — he hasn't let me down yet — but we should keep that transition in mind. What began as the eruption of the past as it was in its present has become a present defined through the knowledge of its future toward which it reaches.

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Adam Riggio 4 years, 7 months ago

Explaining my episode references.

The McCoy TV era was the first time that a regular feature of Phil's analysis was understanding which elements of the show influenced the writers of the 2004-present series. This kind of analysis comes up in just about every entry on the better-quality NAs, especially in this middle period where Human Nature and The Also People indicate what Doctor Who at its best can do in the Wilderness Years.

The Trial of a Time Lord entries included a discussion of the Seasonish as the future of the series actively intruding on its past. Season 23's production, because it takes in events from Peri's tenure as companion to Mel's, is ongoing today: Colin Baker is still recording stories for audio that take place in this gap between Peri and Mel. So Phil was able to include the idea that the Sixth Doctor is put on trial by Time Lords from the period of the Time War itself. The future of Doctor Who could now affect its present, because the Seasonish (its nature being far hazier than any Time Can Be Rewritten Missing Adventure-style story) allows the present of Doctor Who to exist simultaneously with every future moment of the show until the sad day when Colin Baker eventually dies. So the telos of becoming Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat's Doctor Who can co-exist with every time period from Season 23 onwards.

Elements of this blurring of time periods occurred in Phil's analysis of Time Crash as well, when we could understand the potential of the Peter Davison era through the depiction of the Fifth Doctor through the pen of Moffat and the production of Davies and Julie Gardner. In this case, Davies and Moffat actively reached into the past to bring Davison back for a demonstration of his talent that was obscured in Eric Saward's fatal misunderstanding of Doctor Who.

Oddly enough, the influence of future on past was impossible at the first moment of present and future blurring within the series: Phil's first analysis of The Two Doctors during his entries on Season 6B. He concluded that the future Doctor Who of Season 22 couldn't co-exist with the present Doctor Who of Season 6, precisely because the character of the violent, nihilistic late Saward era was incompatible with the giddy hopefulness of the Patrick Troughton era.

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David Anderson 4 years, 7 months ago

At the time, I remember being more impressed by Use of Weapons. That was structurally more ambitious and structurally successful. But a large part of the effect depends upon a late reveal. Whereas Consider Phlebas is a more sprawling novel, but perhaps more thematically interesting. (You could say that it anticipates the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.)

I can't remember whether it's Against a Dark Background that has the sufficiently advanced technology gun.

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Tiffany Korta 4 years, 7 months ago

I don't see how you could cover the Wilderness Years without looking forwards to NuWho.

Really apart from each books individually themes there are three underlying themes that permeate the books "The Doctor is/was a amoral godlike being", "The Doctors a bit of a git to his Companions" and "The importance of the ordinary man".

All of which are themes that have used to varying degrees in the returned show.

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SK 4 years, 7 months ago

The new series was announced in 2003.

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SK 4 years, 7 months ago

(September)

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Adam Riggio 4 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the correction, SK. I guess the memory does cheat.

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