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.
We’re almost to the end of the story, which is good because I’m running out of things to talk about in the intro. Lucky for me last week I came up with a topic. Our heroes are going through time in pursuit of the TARDIS and to undo all the mess of this story, but it’s not like history hasn’t been played with before in this franchise. First you have the general problem of doing a science fiction show about the future in that the future in the real world is ever changing. Star Trek ran up against that with their take on the 1990s, and if there was a Eugenics War I’m sure it would have made all the papers. Meanwhile in the Whoniverse we don’t have starships that require the crew be in stasis, space observatories in Antarctica being invaded by cyborgs from a planet on the other side of space, and New Who hasn’t been any different since I doubt we’ll have either a Bountiful Human Empire or reality and game shows turned deadly. Time changes and events in most stories set in the future will eventually have outdated technology touted as futuristic or events in some far-off year not matching up what actually happens.
It doesn’t matter than messing with history was the least offense of the Timeless Child. Were the pre-Daleks called the Dals or the Kaleds? When the Doctor destroyed the Daleks in his first meeting with them are they still destined to die or were they just Daleks left behind who didn’t get the sweet tech upgrades? Is Skaro blown up or not and how did that affect the Thals? There have been two different origins for the Loch Ness Monster in Who lore. Between the meddling Monk, who wouldn’t be introduced until a few seasons after when this story would take place in what passes for continuity, the Master, and the Rani plus the Daleks themselves learning how to build a time machine “wibbly wobbly timey whimey” has been going on for a long…time…now. “Fixed points” are just an excuse to not have actual historical events like wars or the shooting of John F. Kennedy being used as story points that might come off as insulting to viewers…yet I’m pretty sure even this franchise has played with Jack The Ripper because nobody cares about prostitutes in the 1800s I guess. Insult them all you want. Even then new Who has messed around with history, and I don’t just mean the Cybermen attack in 1800s or a dinosaur running around the Thames around the same time. There’s even the rule that you shouldn’t make contact with your past/future self, which I guess doesn’t matter when it comes to one of your regenerations. This series doesn’t always play by it’s own time travel rules, and considering this show went on so long that writers forgot stuff nobody thought to come up with probably hasn’t been helpful.
Meanwhile The First Doctor and his Companions are dealing with a 2006 we know wasn’t even close to coming to pass in 2005, when the book was published, so let’s see how they plan to set our history to rights.
I was admittedly a bit confused when the narration suddenly turned first person, since this is the only time thus far it’s happened. You could have had the narrator telling us what was in Ian’s head but it does add a certain connection to hear it straight from Ian, and it leaves us as confused as he is during the trip. Traveling straight through a portal through time is different than riding through the vortex in a nice safe TARDIS after all.
Looking up WOTAN, who apparently still continues his invasion and in this 1972 we’re apparently somewhere around the aftermath I got a bit of spoilers as to what’s coming up. I will say this is another example of that confusing notion between writers as to whether or not time can be altered. I’m still guessing Guerrier is rejecting any notion of time being unchangable and maybe this story is him influencing that point of view, as eventually the Doctor will create the 1972 he would see in later incarnations, and it would be the First Doctor (in the episode “The War Machines“) that eventually stopped it. Wibbly-wobbly, right Tenth?
Meanwhile the area itself is not doing well after WOTAN’s ended reign. A newspaper goes into how things have fallen apart (and this is the closest we get to an explanation of the war unless something changes in the next three chapters), the area that becomes Canary Warf is a disaster that includes vagabonds…probably the ones that turned Bamford into a vagabond-hating loon…some of which are alternate Andrewses, so this mess is really all over the place. Are the Andrewses popping up everywhere in time and space or just here and in 2006? Again, I’m from the US so I don’t know what the actual Canary Warf is or was like but I’m betting this isn’t very accurate. Of course this is a timeline where WOTAN still took over, which raises a lot of time travel questions that make me hate time travel. Odd given this was my second favorite fiction until New Who slowly de-ranked it. Classic Who is still one of my favorites though.
So we see our heroes hang around for the next few days and here’s where things are a bit off. We have at one point Ian and Barbara talking about how this whole experience changed them, and yet you probably wouldn’t know that from the episode after this would have happened. The early years of the show didn’t leave much room between arcs for anything to happen (again, the TARDIS wiki sets this between “Planet Of Giants” and “The Dalek Invasion Of Earth“, the first two serials of season 2–in fact one scene sets the stage for Susan’s departure in “Dalek Invasion” as Carole Ann Ford left the show) but I don’t recall any evidence of a major change in the group between them. Granted it’s been years since I’ve seen them since the closest I have to the second serial is the second Peter Cushing movie. Ian almost proposes to Barbara at one point and it just feels off for where this novel is considered to be placed. I wonder what else changes when this is all undone?
Finally Bamford arrives, a younger Bamford who is surprisingly eager to believe them and join in the plan. It will be interesting to see what happens next, which we’ll do next time. As for this chapter, despite the questionable continuity, which is minor, it still continues the story rather well. Hopefully the ending won’t ruin that but we’ll see what happens as we near the end of this book.