Time Can Be Rewritten 41 (The Gallifrey Chronicles)

(43 comments)

Good morning everyone. Some orders of business before the post. First of all, the Kickstarter continues to be blowing me away. As I mentioned over the weekend, I was needing more stretch goal ideas. T. Hartwell had the winning idea: an art book version of the Logopolis entry formatted to look like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Read about it here, and consider contributing. The costs for ebook and print editions are the same there as they will be on Amazon, so if you're even going to buy the Hartnell second edition when it comes out, go ahead. There's also some new rewards to check out.

Second, if you missed it, I got invited to join Mac Rogers as a panelist on Slate's Doctor Who recaps for this season, and got to discuss Hide with him this week. Given that the episode had what some are immodestly calling a shout-out to this blog (I remain silent but terribly amused), this was perhaps an auspicious omen. Certainly I had fun, and if you want a preview of some of my thoughts on the Moffat era it's probably a good read. That's up over here.


Let’s talk nightmare briefs, shall we? Here’s a corker: you need to wrap up the Eighth Doctor Adventures because the Eighth Doctor is no longer the incumbent. Accordingly we need to fix this whole mess we’ve made of destroying Gallifrey because, well, everyone knew that had to be cleaned up before it got handed off lest there be some massive disjunct between the Gallifreyless Eighth Doctor era and the Gallifreyful Ninth Doctor era. Of course, it’s possible the television series is going to go down as one of the most epic failures of modern television and the series is going to go crawling back to the novels, so however you wrap it up, it should probably not foreclose anything. Oh, and your book is actually going to come out a few months after the new series starts.

The list of people you can call to get this nightmare brief settled is, historically, very short. Peter Grimwade was good at this sort of stuff. Ben Aaronovitch had his moments, and also, for that matter, had Battlefield. Pip and Jane Baker, for all their faults, really only wrote as many stories as they did because they could handle assignments from hell. In books, of course, Kate Orman and Jon Blum lived for this sort of stuff. And then there was Lance Parkin. Lance Parkin, who so loves nightmare briefs that he tends to create them for himself. And who had closed out the previous book line, thus making for a neat piece of symmetry.

Another piece of symmetry appears on the cover. This is the third Eighth Doctor Adventure to feature the Seal of Rassilon on the cover, the previous two having been The Eight Doctors and Interference Book One. This is an odd trilogy, to say the least, but one that manages to capture the overall arc of the Eighth Doctor Adventures surprisingly well, from their beginnings as crushing disappointments to their flare of promise in the middle through to their awkward but not entirely lacking in quality latter days. All of the influences that weigh upon them are on display somewhere in here, whether the intense traditionalism of Dicks, the aggressive drive for new concepts of Miles, and Lance Parkin’s middle road of finding the limits to which relatively traditional Doctor Who can be pushed.

Of course the problems Parkin is left to solve here aren’t Miles’s problems. But they are problems that stem out of his legacy - the residual scars of his influence on Doctor Who. And implicit in this remains what we might call the real divide of the Eighth Doctor Adventures. The rad/trad distinction, after all, proved both largely illusory and, perhaps more to the point, settled: the new series has drawn far more from the rads than the trads, and thus adjudicated that nicely. The gun/frock debate might be taken as slightly more promising, but still misses something. As the endlessly clever Teatime Brutality points out, the real aesthetic divide in the Eighth Doctor Adventures came between Paul Magrs and Lawrence Miles, with the best available summary being that in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street Lawrence Miles gave the Doctor a beard, and in Mad Dogs and Englishmen Paul Magrs made it a magic fortune-telling beard. Which just about sums it up. If anything the divide is the one we tracked way back with First Frontier: paranoia and hedonism. Miles is the paranoid model, and Magrs is the hedonistic one.

Given that, at least, it’s fairly clear that Parkin is ultimately more on the hedonistic side. There’s not a lot of other ways to read a line like “one of the things you’ll learn is that it’s all real. Every word of every novel is real, every frame of every movie, every panel of every comic strip.” The Gallifrey Chronicles embraces the vast overload of Doctor Who. This is mirrored fairly explicitly in the novel’s structure, which keeps offering half-told fragments of adventures, pointedly picking up and leaving off mid-story so as to stress the way in which Doctor Who remains a continually told story.

This is by and large the most interesting part about the book. It’s certainly not Parkin’s resolution of the Gallifrey plot itself, which is firmly one of the straightforward exit strategies just about anyone would have guessed: the Doctor’s amnesia is actually because he deleted his memories to make room for the contents of the entire Matrix, such that he could bring the Time Lords back if he, you know, could ever think of it. (Which he couldn’t, because he accidentally deleted his plan.) It does the job, even though it’s a bit cheeky of Parkin to merely leave the book off with the means by which the Doctor can restore Gallifrey as opposed to actually resolving the plot. But the fact of the matter was that restoring Gallifrey was about as complex or interesting a question as “how will they solve the regeneration limit.” Which, of course, they will, but the particulars of the magic wand aren’t the interesting part of that magic trick. How Gallifrey comes back isn’t interesting - what sorts of stories are implied by it is.

And so the actual business of bringing Gallifrey back is ultimately a sideshow - one that’s eventually driven off to the sides of the book when we get a random alien invasion to deal with instead. The book pointedly isn’t about restoring Gallifrey. It’s about the way in which Doctor Who pointedly does not end. To actually resolve a plot element would defeat the purpose of the book. This does not quite remove the jarring problem underlying the book - that it brings Gallifrey back so that it can be promptly destroyed in a different fashion. It remains a profoundly weird interaction in which the Eighth Doctor Adventures are simultaneously embraced and rejected. But it helps. The Gallifrey Chronicles end up working a lot better in terms of the new series than it would have if they’d attempted some Sometime Never…esque attempt at broad continuity.

At the end of the day, after all, what The Gallifrey Chronicles is about is the marginal spin-off material. Hence the “it’s all real” bit, which is fairly blatantly about the legitimacy of the spin-off material in the wilderness years. Notably, the book begins with a chapter called “New and Missing Adventures,” and finds a way to work in a bit of Timewyrm: Genesys and a crucial assist from the Seventh Doctor, thus making it into a conclusion not just to the Eighth Doctor Adventures but to the wilderness years as a whole. Perhaps most importantly, The Gallifrey Chronicles is not entirely credulous as to the history of Doctor Who that they tacitly restore. Marnal, the character through whom Gallifrey is remembered, is described as “a rich, colourful mind that had become overgrown, tangled as it grew old. An author of popular adventure fiction who had succumbed to senility without realizing it, whose books had become an impenetrable jungle, alienating even his most loyal fans.” As exorcism goes, this is worthy of the Colin Baker era.

What should we say of the wilderness years, then? An era of interminable creative frustration, with interesting idea after interesting idea squandered, it is in many ways difficult to wrap them up with anything good to say. The Virgin era was largely quite good? This is true, though even there it seems more accurate to say that the Virgin era had several very good writers and was better able to keep everyone marching in the same direction. But they were not good enough. This has, I will not lie, been an extremely hard nine months of blogging, and not just because of the amount of material that had to be chewed through. Nowhere in the classic series did getting through all of the material the blog required feel like such an arduous process. The wilderness years material simply isn’t that good. It has moments that are as good as anything Doctor Who has ever done, yes. But even while being terribly selective in what I covered I had a lot of sloggy bits. Had I actually tried to do everything, well, for one thing we’d still be nine months from Rose, and for another, I’d have long since given up the blog in despair.

But for all their faults they are important. Not just in a historical sense of being influential and thus worth documenting, but in the sense of forming a real era of Doctor Who. The wilderness years were the demonstration that Doctor Who would not die. It might fragment, become marginal, become culter than cult, but the one thing it very clearly was not going to do any time soon was stop existing or stop telling stories. And while we’ve, over the past few entries, been stressing the fact that “proper” Doctor Who is plugged into British culture in a fundamental way, we should also remember that when Doctor Who falls out of sync with that culture there is a body of fans there to take care of it.

Did the wilderness years at times mistake taking care of Doctor Who for ownership of it? Yes. Did they mishandle it, often as a direct result? Yes. But where else were you going to find Doctor Who in the first place from 1990 to 2004? No, Doctor Who isn’t inherently worthwhile; if we have to put up with The Celestial Toymaker, The Dominators, The Monster of Peladon, The Android Invasion, The Arc of Infinity, The Twin Dilemma, Silver Nemesis, Timewyrm Genesys, War of the Daleks, and Minuet in Hell as Doctor Who than it’s not worth doing in the first place. But just because crap gets produced doesn’t mean that there’s not worthwhile things as well. And if Doctor Who remains a thing that can produce things like The Rescue, The Mind Robber, Carnival of Monsters, City of Death, Enlightenment, Vengeance on Varos, The Happiness Patrol, Love and War, Interference, and The Chimes of Midnight then it is worth doing.

And in this regard The Gallifrey Chronicles is the perfect ending to the wilderness years: a story about the ongoing nature of Doctor Who. Which is, after all, what the wilderness years secured. That even if the BBC turned its back on the program there would be people who would keep it going, both in a creative sense and in a cultural sense. What matters about the wilderness years is not just that people like Paul Cornell and Gareth Roberts wrote Doctor Who, but that people read and listened to the Doctor Who that was written. And when the next wilderness years come - and they will some day, because nothing lasts forever - the same process will repeat itself.

And so even as the new series ramps up and definitively becomes Doctor Who, relegating the wilderness years into the wilderness, Lance Parkin spins an account of why the wilderness years have value in the first place: because they keep going. Because spin-off books and audios are still a thing, even after the new series starts. And many of the same suspects remain attached to them. Lance Parkin has written for Tennant with The Eyeless. Justin Richards wrote The Angel’s Kiss and Devil in the Smoke. The wilderness years never ended any more than the series did.

And in many ways this is the key thing about Doctor Who. It not only inspires mass cultural appeal of the sort that is going to be central to tracking and understanding the new series, it inspires weird, fannish appeal. And the weird fannish appeal is a huge part of why the series is important. The DVD sets and action figures that make the series a reliable cash cow for the BBC are for us. This is the overt model of Doctor Who: something that is popular enough to be an absolutely massive cultural touchstone but that inspires a small section of its audience to die-hard fandom. And while the former is by almost any reasonable measure the more important aspect of Doctor Who, the latter is why it survives and endures.

And so this is, perhaps, the way to look at the wilderness years. A period where fandom nurtured and cared for the show, out in the wilderness and the margins of the culture. And eventually the show was ready to leave us and go back into the culture. Was there perhaps some separation anxiety and empty nest syndrome in pockets of the wilderness? Of course. But that’s not our decision. The show isn’t ours anymore. It never really was. We just took care of it for a while. And on the whole, we did OK.

Comments

occono 4 years, 8 months ago

What was the apparent shout out?

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Spacewarp 4 years, 8 months ago

In the words of a soon-to-be-reviewed Doctor, Fantastic! The last paragraph in particular, almost brought a tear to my eye.

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Abigail Brady 4 years, 8 months ago

the device that Emma was attached was was called a psychochronograph

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Alex Antonijevic 4 years, 8 months ago

Looking forward to getting to the new series. The wilderness years has been a tough slog. I'm not familiar with any of it, so I have found this interesting to learn what Doctor Who was when it wasn't a TV show.

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AdamAttley 4 years, 8 months ago

Seconded.

I can't ever see myself having the time or inclination to dive into a lot of this material, but your write-ups have never been less than literate, clear-sighted and fascinating.

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elvwood 4 years, 8 months ago

Yeah. Lovely.

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Arkadin 4 years, 8 months ago

It's interesting how for all this time we've never discussed what seems to be the main cultural legacy of the EDAs in Doctor Who fandom at large: Eight/Fitz slash. Like Jamie, Fitz's loyalty to the Doctor and his status as long-lasting male companion makes him irresistable to slashers. The scene where Fitz dreams about being naked with the Doctor in Halflife is probably the most remarked-upon in the entire range.

I'd say hedonism definitely won out.

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jane 4 years, 8 months ago

And the Doctor practiced a kind of psychochronography going back and taking all those pictures in time, a decidedly psychogeographical take on the concept.

A key moment is when the Doctor breaks the fourth wall while taking a picture. Suddenly it's not just about Caliburn House, but about *us*. Hence the long chat with Clara about our being ghosts, little flashes of light. Doctor Who is a psychochronograph not just of Britain, but humanity.

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Ewa Woowa 4 years, 8 months ago

I'd just like to say that what I like most about this book was that it was a damn good read.
Almost Dicksian - maybe a little top-heavy prose wise, but still a good page turner.

Oh, and most obviously the ending - the very last page when the new companion asks the old companion what happens now and (to paraphrase) the old companion replies:

"we jump into the enemies volcano, get captured, escape, give themselves a chance to surrender, get captured again, escape again and in about 2 hours time we'll be standing on that mountain over there, watching this mountain blow up with all the villians in it..."

The Doctor smiles and says: "well, shall we get started then...?"

Fantastic ending to the book, the books and any DW story - the doctor goes on forever...

I post more when I sober...

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Ewa Woowa 4 years, 8 months ago

As we are leaving the original novels / wilderness and apropos of nothing: my favourite DrWho "wilderness books" are:

The Romance of Crime
The English Way of Death
The Well Mannered War
Timewyrm: Exodus

The Time Travellers
Face of the Enemy
Last of theGaderene
Business Unusual
Mad Dogs & Englishmen
The Gallifrey Chronicles

So, Virgin loses to the BBC range in that matter...

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Ewa Woowa 4 years, 8 months ago

oh and Phil: did you get that pornochronographic picture I emailed you?

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John Seavey 4 years, 8 months ago

Honestly, I'm not sure whether this entry was far too hard on the wilderness years or far too easy on the regular series. :) I think that the wilderness years had roughly the same hit-to-miss ratio as the classic series, perhaps even slightly better...but a bad TV show is something that is over in two hours, same as a good one, whereas a bad book seems to last forever.

More than that, I think Phil's underestimating just how important the wilderness years are. Everyone points to 'Buffy' and 'X-Files' and 'Babylon 5' as potential influences, but it's incredibly telling that every single writer for Season One had previously written for Virgin, and that the new series pretty much just broke down and wholesale adapted 'Human Nature' by Season Three. Because at its core, the new series is trying to do the kind of storytelling that Paul Cornell exemplified in 'Human Nature'. (And Kate in LHH, and Ben in the 'Remembrance' novelisation...the importance of the 'Remembrance' novelisation cannot be overstated, frankly. It's the road map to the future of Doctor Who.)

Ultimately, 'Rose' is a continuation of the wilderness years, not of the classic series. And while I can understand that someone coming to the wilderness years from the new series would say, "Huh. This is a lot of the same ideas, only done less well," you have to realize that the wilderness years were the place where everyone took the ideas that were barely embryonic at the end of the classic series and grew them up into the ideas that would become the new series. The wilderness years didn't fail as a custodian of the old Doctor Who. They succeeded as the crucible of the new.

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Theonlyspiral 4 years, 8 months ago

Modesty is not always called for. In this case I think there is a better than even shot that this is a direct reference, and why not own up to that?

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Matthew Celestis 4 years, 8 months ago

Why shouldn't Doctor Who belong to fandom? We are the ones who care most about the show. We are the ones who have been loyal to it when the public couldn't care less.

When the show next gets cancelled, it will belong to us again and we will be a bigger fandom with new and fresh ideas, ready to carry Doctor Who through another 'wilderness.'

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David Anderson 4 years, 8 months ago

I can't find the Seventh Doctor assist?

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Matthew Celestis 4 years, 8 months ago

What do you dislike about the Virgin books?

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 8 months ago

The projection of him that appeared in City of the Dead gives the Doctor a key clue in figuring out that he has the Matrix in his brain.

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 8 months ago

Yes. I'm still speechless.

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jane 4 years, 8 months ago

It's more like *we* belong to Doctor Who, not the other way around.

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Ewa Woowa 4 years, 8 months ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Josiah Rowe 4 years, 8 months ago

Would this be Seventies Porn Colin, or something even worse?

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Ewa Woowa 4 years, 8 months ago

Well. I'm going to (politely) take issue with the Q. Why does it have to be I *dislike* the Virgin books?
(and I remember r.a.d.w and the verbal bullying of those who didn't "toe the party line" and praise the Virgin clique).

I just want to read a good DrWho story if I've bought a DrWho novel and one of the main things I thought about the Virgin line of DrWho was that so very often I was reading a book which had the Doctor shoe-horned into it.
It felt like the author wanted to write a book and had landed a slot in the DrWho line and so just added the Doctor in.

The Virgin line seemed to suffer from "Torchwood" syndrome (before the disease even had been named!) and seemed to be desperate to be seen to be cool and grown-up - to cool to just write a straight forward DrWho story - so grown-up that they were going to add sex and swearing.

Most DrWho fans seem to be in denial that what we love is - to an extent - just a "childrens" program, or at least should always be able to be watched / read by children (as well as having a deeper layer for the adults to enjoy).

There is nothing wrong with adults enjoying it (or any "childrens" story) and there is no reason why it can't be written well enough to be enjoyed by both children and adults alike, but to a "PG" level that is "safe" for all.

I just got the feeling (and this is starting to move away from the books in themselves and into the personalities of the r.a.d.w trolls) that most of the books were written by people who desperately wanted to be considered cooler than just DrWho authors, even though most of us who are mature enough know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with "just" being a DrWho fan.

So often the Virgin books seemed to be embarrassed to have the DrWho logo on the front cover.

Oh dear, is that all just a ramble?

I do seem to have ended up slagging off the Virgin line, when all I really mean't was: the BBC books I read seemed "more DrWho" than the Virgin books. But then I always read more of the Past Doctor novels than the 7th / 8th Doctor novels... What I wanted from a DrWho book was to believe I was reading a novelisation of a TV story that I had merely missed on the TV...

I'm off to watch the Broadchurch finale - that's a good TV program!

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Pen Name Pending 4 years, 8 months ago

"lest there be some massive disjunct between the Gallifreyless Eighth Doctor era and the Gallifreyful Ninth Doctor era"

Wait, so they weren't informed of the Time War plot?

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 8 months ago

As I understand it, no.

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Josiah Rowe 4 years, 8 months ago

Regarding the importance of the Remembrance novelisation, I think it's fascinating that the recent line of novel reprints selected that novelisation rather than any Seventh Doctor PDA to represent his era. Of course, there were better choices in the New Adventures, but if those weren't available for whatever licensing or copyright reason, Remembrance represents the New Adventures in their nascent form. (Bit of a slap in the face to Tucker and Perry, mind you.)

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Pen Name Pending 4 years, 8 months ago

I remember reading once that "no Time Lords" was part of Davies' pitch to the BBC, so I guess it was so secret that they didn't tell the spin-off line?

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matt bracher 4 years, 8 months ago

I stopped reading Who toward the end of the Virgin era, and missed out on Lungbarrow as a result. Sadness when I finally discovered it as an ebook on the official site and wished I had a print copy. (If if the manuscript was cleaned up and improved.)

And I bought some of the PDAs during the BBC Books era, but never an EDA. I *almost* bought Interference, because the cover looked so neat, but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't read it then.

But then the new series began! ...and Gallifrey was destroyed?! how? why? when?

But I knew I'd seen this title at the bookstore, might have explored further if it weren't part [didn't even know then it was the conclusion] of a line I hadn't followed at all.

So I bought it. Read it. And was confounded by it. It wasn't the same war, near as I could tell. I caught most of the commentary on the series itself, and made assumptions about what had been, but was overall bewildered.

Rereading it again a month or two ago, right after I finished The Ancestor Cell, it's amazing how Parkin took the same story, made it a small part of something larger, and rewrote it so that it made so much more sense.

But I went into it originally for something that the book didn't [because it couldn't] give me. It's far better the second time 'round. An enjoyable, playful ending to a line, but not a bridge to something new.

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sleepyscholar 4 years, 8 months ago

This is called "fan entitlement".

The idea seems to be that Doctor Who belongs to people just because they think they deserve it. But the word "belong" can refer to the ownership we associate with capitalism or the affiliation of more human forms of interaction (as Jane seems to be suggesting). Ownership of ideas is a capitalist approach, and that's what's suggested by "Doctor Who belongs to us" since a cultural creation can't "belong" in the second, human sense. But capitalism doesn't recognise "loyalty" as a criterion for ownership, so it's a lost cause anyway.

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5tephe 4 years, 8 months ago

Thirded, etc.

I've been lost here, but enjoyed the education. Even read one or two of the books, which made the process... interesting. I know what Phil means about slogging through this material.

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5tephe 4 years, 8 months ago

Though blindingly obvious when you point them out jane, I still missed the photographs as a reference. And as for the 4th wall - very Troutonesque, no? As Phil has often pointed out that Matt Smith is.

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Bennett 4 years, 8 months ago

Just wanted to add my thanks for your in-depth history of the Wilderness Years. As I became a fan in 2003 through weekdaily repeats on the ABC, I'm that rare breed of Classic Series fan who knows nothing of the Wilderness Years sufferance (when Rose premiered here, the repeats had just reached City of Death). Your coverage of the era inspired me to experience snippets of this time for myself. And on the whole, I've enjoyed my trip back in time.

Occasionally it's been irreconcilable with the TV series, such as The 4th Doctor uttering the words "the prepuce of Brother Hubert's penis" or The 1st Doctor making a joke about Bus Stop's 'Kung Fu Fighting'. And occasionally it's been intolerably fannish, such as an author interrupting his own story to deliver a two-page info-dump that rewrites Kamelion's death (just to make it a sacrifice instead of an assisted sacrifice).

But on the whole, the works I've read and heard have been well-written, enjoyable, and respectful but not beholden to the original series. Though I'm still glad I don't have to wait nine years for the next TV episode!

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Matthew Blanchette 4 years, 8 months ago

"in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street Lawrence Miles gave the Doctor a beard, and in Mad Dogs and Englishmen Paul Magrs made it a magic fortune-telling beard."

Behold, the Doctor's magic fortune-telling beard! http://thebooktower.net/images/547.jpg :-D

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Nightsky 4 years, 8 months ago

Wait, *worse* than SPC?

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David Anderson 4 years, 7 months ago

Aaronovitch has published novels that aren't Doctor Who. In addition, Remembrance must be the best novel with the daleks in it by some way.

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Abigail Brady 4 years, 7 months ago

It wasn't immediately obvious what was happening, as demonstrated by the following comment made on a BBS by someone who will remain anonymous (OK, so it's me).

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[Sat Apr 2 20:01:19 2005]--
From: . (morwen)

Subject: so.... apparently the new doctor who is following the book continuity,
then!

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lanceparkin 4 years, 7 months ago

Hello. First of all, thanks to Phil for the many and various interesting posts.

We knew that there was no Gallifrey and that the Daleks were responsible fairly early in the process. Originally, the plan was to release the book before the new series started. At that point, the BBC really didn't know whether the show was going to catch on or not. They were predicting between five and six million viewers for the first episode. This would have been far better for years than they'd managed opposite Ant and Dec. But part of the brief, as Phil says, is that they really thought we'd have one season, then back to the books, so we had to leave things open.

Here's the thing ... I was writing the last book, not some teaser for a TV series. I wanted to do two things (1) Celebrate the books and (2) Do it as a novel that wasn't 'filmable' - so there's lots of wordplay, I go to Mars for one scene, a lot of it is internal narrative. Show the strengths, or at least characteristics, of the novels.

Now, I know a lot of readers wanted a book that had the Doctor's memories coming back, and laying down every brick to the opening scene of Rose, shutting down every single plotline of the books. I'd respectfully suggest that's entirely unnecessary. The fun of these things is that not everything's spelled out, that the game is not one of filling in the blanks.

Doctor Who is great. What the books demonstrated, and moreso than the audios or comic strips, was that there isn't a formula, there are few limits as to what Doctor Who can tackle.

The analogy I've used more than once is that the books were playing Pick Up Song from I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. The TV series goes away, we kept humming for thirteen years, the TV series came back and we were within a gnat's crochet - Gallifrey's gone, the stories are about human relationships, the role of the companion in humanising the Doctor, stories can start in the middle and just move faster, we're more in thrall to Alan Moore and Grant Morrison than The Daemons. Doctor Who's not as white and middle class, and it's just more ... playful and author-led than before.

The books were by and for the hardcore Doctor Who fans. That was the only audience available to them. When the books tried to appeal to a more general audience, no one bit. But the paradox is that we opened up Doctor Who, broke it out of the recursive little pocket universe it had been in in 1989. To retain the interest of our older, smarter, more engaged readers, we couldn't just sit there making sequels to TV stories that were novelisations of non-existent episodes.

I'd resist to my last breath the idea that there are many Doctor Who series. There's Doctor Who. If you want to count stories, I think it goes prose, audio, comic strip, TV. TV has primacy by size of audience, but the idea that means Colony in Space 'counts' but The Also People's just a curio is nonsense. For twenty years, authors have switched between these media. The new TV show take its cues from them all. But ... having said that it has the same feel as the NAs and EDAs. It's far more 'like' Human Nature and The Highest Science than any other iteration. The new TV series is the sequel to the books, and it's all the stronger for that.

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Ununnilium 4 years, 7 months ago

Wow. <3

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 7 months ago

Lance - thanks for the more detailed information. I'll take an editing pass on the post tomorrow.

I'd say that one of these days someone needs to get a proper history/oral history of the wilderness years together, but it would sound uncomfortably like volunteering.

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Josiah Rowe 4 years, 7 months ago

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Scott 4 years, 7 months ago

The idea that Doctor Who can belong to fandom seems so ... clingy and limiting, really. It's taking a massive, wonderful thing and shoving it in a box that only a few people who think they're entitled to it can have. It is, to be frank, the mindset of Ian Levine and his kin; the kind of mindset that seems to think that you have to clock up a certain amount of hours watching and cash spent purchasing and a certain amount of questions answered correctly in order to qualify as being a proper fan, rather than just being someone who takes pleasure in the show for however long for. The kind of people who want to turn Doctor Who into a homework assignment rather than an entertainment series.

Like Jane says, Doctor Who is bigger than any of us. Like Phil says, we love it and nurture it and care for it when it needs us, but we have to let it go when it's ready. Because otherwise, that's not love and caring; that's obsession and control.

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Scott 4 years, 7 months ago

To be fair, Phil's repeatedly stated over the blog how important the Virgin years have ultimately proved to be to the new series.

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neroden@gmail 4 years ago

Well, Lance described it as "the inmates have taken over the asylum" in A History Of The Universe.

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Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Commenting on a 4-year-old post seems silly, but here goes: thank you, Phil. The Wilderness Years was an era of Doctor Who I knew practically nothing about and your amazing essays changed that for good. They really gave me a lot of food for thought and expanded my view of Doctor Who as a whole. And quite possibly made me a better writer. Just like all your essays. I think I just wanted to say: your hard work (and I wish it was easier on you) is appreciated. Thank you.

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