Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
It took surprisingly little time to get everyone back together. I’m used to arcs where the Doctor and his Companions may not see each other for whole episodes as they each get drawn into different parts of the threat of the week. I think even around this time the teams have been split up for longer. And while there are 13 chapters they’re rather long chapters.
Today we may find out why this 2006 is so different from the one we knew. Granted, the future seen in sci-fi shows of the 1960s have little resemblance to our world. It’s the nature of future stories. While Star Trek is praised for inspiring many advances in technology down to the cell phone (which was based on walkie-talkies and my cousin even had a set based on the communicators) some of the tech they used is rather primitive compared to what we have now and we still just barely started the 21st. I like how the book is playing with that idea, but we’ll see if it stays on course or just gets weird. It’s time for chapter three.
The story starts at the destroyed St. Paul’s Cathedral (that got blown up last chapter) and a man named Ritchie Roberts. Given this is how Bamford was introduced last chapter, and she shows up prominently in this one, and a quick glance at the next chapter does something similar I’m guessing this how all the players on the alternate 2006 will be introduced. We also learn that a character named Wren was a spy for the enemy, which we later learn involves South Africa as they take over France…poor France, this is becoming a habit in European-centered wars…was responsible for ensuring the cathedral would fall due to its significance in surviving World War II. There’s an interesting use of history in going over the war. I want to be surprised at this point so I’m not looking into the author’s personal history but I’m guessing he’s either a war buff or old enough to have been there for the Blitzkrieg.
I’ll get into all the time travel theorizing that goes on in a moment, as our team talks to Kelly, Griffiths, and the Andrewes. They’re having a nice conversation until Bamford shows up, proving in an instant that she’ll be the obligatory militant soldier who doesn’t listen to anybody and only thinks of his/her goals. Doctor Who has more of these than this place has variants of Andrews and it’s a trope that really needs to either find a fresh take or be given a rest for awhile. She doesn’t even question so many people with the same name and features but different ages and lengths of facial hair. Instead she immediately assumes they’re all vagrants (except for the original because he has identification) and sends them along with Ian, Susan, and Barbara to be killed. How stupid is this woman? Kelly speaking up for the Doctor is the only reason he gets to stay. Then she demands to see the device. It’s a ring that opens a portal in time, and the Doctor is freaked out by the whole thing, while Bamford only sees a potential weapon. Man, this trope needs to DIE!
Our trio’s trip before they’re locked up to await execution (apparently this wartime England can’t afford to keep vagrants alive but they can waste the bullets better served for the enemy) is mostly to fill in the rest of the theory this story is working under. Time travel theory has many variations but it looks like this is using the same multiversal theory that allows Trunks in the Dragon Ball universe to go back to his android-devastated world despite all the historical changes made in the usual present day. While Kelly and his team actually compensate for the planet’s rotation (rare for time travel tales) somehow they’re pulling different versions of Andrews from different timelines, perhaps even causing those altered timelines with minor changes in history. Besides the ages and facial hair some prefer their tea with sugar and other don’t. Apparently they also didn’t compensate enough considering how many Andrewes and test animals have shown up in Canary Warf. Bit of an oversight there. The end result if this continues is the end of the world. Literally. And I get the feeling Bamford is going to be the ultimate cause of it all. She seems that stupid. I think she’s ready to cause the end of the world.
The time vortex has changed from showrunner to showrunner in New Who so I’m trying to guess which version Guerrier is going with. My guess is the Russel T. Davies version given that was the show out at the time. I don’t recall seeing the vortex in classic Who, just the TARDIS traveling through space. The TV movie is the first time I remember seeing it. There’s also a nice Easter egg where they’re talking about calculations for this particular time experiment and Ian brings up “d & e”, a nice nod to Susan’s odd comments during the flashback in “An Unearthly Child”. (“D” is time and “e” is space.) I like that bit of memory. They also talk about how some of these artifacts they examined might be alien in nature. A nod to UNIT perhaps? One complaint I do have is that when the point of view shifts from the quartet to Kelly and later from Kelly to Bamford the names of the people involved change. For example it took me a moment to realize when Kelly referred to “the girl” he meant Susan and not Griffiths, who I though had already been established as a dude. I had the same moment of disconnect when Bamford was talking to the characters. I hope that’s not going to be a trend.
The mystery is not quite revealed yet. We know what method they’re using and where the duplicates came from, but what was changed and why South Africa has declared war on Europe hasn’t been explained yet. We’ll see what answers are coming next time.