Autumn Mist.

Books  There’s a scene which I think is in the final season of Friends, when Pheobe is passing by the window of the coffee house, looks at the sign on the window and says:  ‘Oh hey -- Central Perk!  I get it!’  I felt like that during Autumn Mist and specifically the scene in which the Doctor and Sam chat about their respective origins.

The Doctor suggests that when timelords regenerate it doesn’t just affect and change who they are at that moment but also drifts back through their bio data, effecting their origins too, which explains the comment in Unnatural History about having a collection of those and also more importantly why Eighth was suddenly gifted with a half human heritage.

There aren’t many moments like that in David A. McIntee’s book which is a far more straightforward endeavor at least in relation to its storytelling.  More akin to the historicals of old, the TARDIS still going through its temperamental phase plonks the clue slap bang in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge in World War Two and they spend half the book getting separated, taking cover in opposing sides and then finding their way back together amid the battle.  The quasi in this particular historical though are elves or extra-dimensional beings who are crossing into ‘our’ world because theirs is being effected by another rift in time.

Yes, another book another rift.  Even the Doctor’s noticing the pattern and tries to deduce a connection somewhere in here which is more than the crew of the Starship Enterprise ever did even with an android on board.  There are eleven dimensions apparently and the elvan world exists in the top reaches of them, but not far enough up that they’re not being devastated by the battle.  The strength of the book is you can understand where ‘above’ and ‘below’ begin and end, what the stakes are, and how in the end war is stupid.  The primary contacts are the king and queen of that realm, order and chaos, who in a nice literary reference are referred to as Titannia and Oberon.  Does that mean A Midsummer Night’s Dream is canon?  I hope so…

McIntee has obviously done his research and there’s a range of military hardware scattered about the place, but arguably the weakest parts of the novel are when he’s trying to elucidate their movements and what they look like.  I have no clue about such things so I made heavy weather of many these passages and will admit to skipping ahead here and there.

Which isn’t to say the book doesn’t have bags of atmosphere -- there’s a particularly horrific moment related to a regular character which is heart-stopping and any book which works its climax around this can’t be all that bad.  Incidentally, Autumn Mist was Hitler's codename for the Bulge; but perhaps it's also a reference to Puff The Magic Dragon, who frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called called Honah Lee, a place that seems not unlike the extra-dimensional realm described in the novel.

In fact, on the whole this is an enthralling read, even if now and then it seems to be counting time until Interference, replete with teases again.  Most of the army officers are fairly two dimensional, but you’d never criticise the repeatedly referenced The Great Escape for that so it seems pointless to here.  The fairies have greater depth and Titannia in particular doesn’t disgrace her Shakespearean counterpart, a sexual chemistry evident between her and the time lord.

The Doctor generally seems in character, with a new ability to pull beverages from thin air (or his pockets) and a touch of the lonely God about him taking sides in the war for a greater purpose.  Fitz seems quite at home in the war zone and gets once again to play secret agent as he gathers information about what’s happening within Nazi territory.  He's a surprisingly complex character though and hardly ever drifts into the stereotypes that you'd expect.

Once again Sam is abducted for various reasons (another pattern that’s formed in recent novels and which the Doctor notices) and finds herself being genetically reconfigured, again for various reasons, leading to a final decision to leave the TARDIS.  Despite everything that’s gone on though, unlike Chanelle walking from Big Brother,  it just seems a bit out of the blue and arbitrary.  But then wasn't the loss of a companion always like that in the old days?  Look at Dodo.  And Tegan, for that matter.

Next:  Larry's Interference and I've decided to read both novels all together as one long story.  It's the Nu(ish)-Who equivalent of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, all six hundred odd pages with very tight line spacing.  I'll see you in a week or two ...

No comments: