I’m Sorry, Sir, You Have No Clearance (First Frontier)
I’ll Explain Later
We skipped the largely disliked Strange England by Simon Messingham. He gets better in the BBC Books line.
First Frontier, David McIntee’s second novel, mashes up American UFO myths with Doctor Who, and then, about halfway through, pulls off the return of the Master. The book is altogether lighter than White Darkness, although maintains McIntee’s fondness for lengthy action sequences, upon which its reputation largely hinges. Craig Hinton proclaims it to be “another winner from Mr. McIntee,” while Lars Pearson, who had been skeptical about McIntee’s first effort as well, says that the book “needed to shed about 100 pages and not end with a whimper.” On the whole this novel is apparently stunningly average – thirty-third out of sixty-one on Sullivan’s rankings, with a 68.5% rating. DWRG Summary. Whoniverse Discontinuity Guide Entry.
It’s September of 1994. “Love is All Around,” improbably, is still at number one, having landed there way back in June. They stay there for the first two weeks of the month before Whigfield finally takes them down with “Saturday Night.” Boyz II Men, Blur, Kylie Minogue, R.E.M., and Bon Jovi also chart.
Since last we checked in, a fire wiped out the Norwich Central Library. Woodstock ’94 happened, because nothing commemorates the spirit of the 1960s like a massive corporate remake. And the Provisional Irish Republican Army announces a complete halt to all military options. While during the month this book comes out, Louise Jensen is raped and murdered by British soldiers in Cyprus, the US carries out a bloodless invasion of Haiti, and, in a desperate attempt to let me have three items in this sentence, Andrew Wiles proves Fermat’s Last Theorem again.
And in books, First Frontier. Since the “I’ll Explain Later” section robs me of any chance to bury the lead, we may as well start with the big deal, which is that this book features the return of the Master. Actually, this is still burying the lead slightly, as the real story is in many ways not that the Master is back but that the New Adventures have decided to regenerate him, with the Ainley version of the Master getting shot down by Ace in one of the novel’s innumerable action sequences. This is an unusual move. For a variety of reasons it is unrealistic to have the novels maintain the status quo of the television series – and indeed they haven’t, both introducing Benny and evolving Ace into New Ace.
Nevertheless, there are degrees of this sort of thing. None of the wilderness years lines ever made a sincere attempt at regenerating the Doctor. The only wilderness year regeneration was on television. And the reason for this is relatively obvious: it’s done so that if the series returns to television it can, in theory, pick up where it left off. Even the aging of Ace in Deceit only serves to advance her age by as many years had passed since Survival, effectively keeping Ace and Sophie Aldred’s ages in line.…