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.
Only three chapters into a thirteen chapter story and already it looks like space/time is taking it in a soft spot. That has to be a new record for failing by moron characters. (The writer however is doing fine. I just want to make sure you’re looking at the right target.) Time travel in fiction is a tricky bag and we have yet to see how well Guerrier handles it, but at least now we guess which moron is ultimately responsible. It’s the obligatory jackass commander that I’m so sick of seeing because this show specifically brought them in way too often, to where they became the rule, rather than the exception.
And it looks like we’re about to introduce another new character. How she’ll fit in and whether or not she meets the Doctor and company we probably won’t find out until next chapter given the formula thus far. Let’s get into chapter four and see just how badly time is about to get hurt…more than it has.
Our newest character is Abagail, and given that the guy from the start of the previous chapter isn’t in this chapter maybe I was wrong about the pattern. I’m guessing there’s a reason we’re taking these quick steps back to the events of St. Paul’s explosion from different perspectives. Maybe it will…I don’t know, represent the different Andrewses or something. She sees herself as a liberator, but from what we don’t know. Yet.
Back at the time hoop, Bamford is annoyed that they can’t break into the TARDIS, where yet another Andrews makes his appearance (I wonder if one of them ends up being female or with a different last name?), and decides for a reason I can’t fathom to shove the police box into the hoop. Where she makes the leap in logic that this will solve things I can’t even imagine. The Mario Brothers couldn’t make that leap. Luckily the moron is stopped because Ian and the others escape.
Before that though we see Griffiths interviewing Barbara. Ian suggested maybe just tell the truth since they don’t have time to cook up a shared story that won’t have holes. It would have blown Griffiths’ mind if he ever got to Susan. Something Barbara said must have gotten to him since he secretly helps them escape and it’s pretty clever for someone of his youth and lack of military training. We also get two interesting things: some worldbuilding for this alternate 2006 in how the world of England has changed thanks to certain wartimes act. I find it interesting that during World War II, and again Guerrier is clearly drawing on that from the British end–granted this is from an American who was in high school when Operation Desert Storm was happening so I could be wrong here–the people bombing them acted pretty much how the British in this timeline are when it comes to papers, treating them like resources and disposing of them when they aren’t considered remotely helpful. Even if they win I don’t think this is the Britain we want existing. It’s like how DC’s Star Trek Mirror Universe Saga storyline showed us how the Empire replaced the Federation in history.
The other is a rumor of “robot people” living in Antarctica. It’s supposed to be a reference to “The Tenth Planet” the last episode to feature the First Doctor, introduce both regeneration and the Cybermen, and really shouldn’t be known about to these guys even in rumor. I looked the episode up on the TARDIS Wiki and it takes place in 1986, as imagined in 1966. Was the Doctor unable to stop them because of events here? Considering that would lead to the end of Earth and this war not even taking place, that’s rather unlikely. It was just a reference but it doesn’t work as well here as previous references.
I do like the escape scene. It has action but also has our heroes figuring their way out and deciphering the clues Griffiths left behind and he’s pretty clever in how he fooled Bamford. However, the team is separated again. Ian doesn’t know Bamford has the TARDIS with the Doctor and sends Barbara and Susan back to the train station with one of the surviving Andrewes. (Some were killed in the police station while a couple more die during the escape. And what we have here is a Doctor closer to the usual Doctor in that he’s getting involved. For Ian this is a surprise but it’s nothing new for us. However, given what these idiots are doing to history it’s not surprising. Whatever the Doctor is at this point in his life he’s still a Time Lord. No, the real surprise is when Ian is saved…by Ian. An alternate version of Ian or him from the future? Unfortunately Ian II is too dead to tell us.
Mystery, action, suspense, moron leaders, everything you could want in a Doctor Who story? We’ll learn more in chapter five.