Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art


WE ARE DERANGED. We are psychopaths, sociopaths, up the garden path,' said Tanith. 'We are mad, and you are trapped with us.'"

Back in the 1990s when Doctor Who was off the air, Virgin Books - deciding there might still be some life in the brand - decided to publish original Doctor Who novels.

Following directly on from where the TV series left off, the books were written with an adult audience in mind, and were peppered (controversially) with swearing, violence, drink'n'drugs, sex and - in the first book, famously - paedophilia. One of the later novels was written by Queer As Folk impresario Russell T. Davies. Set on a London sink estate, Damaged Goods featured a middle-aged man who visited cruising grounds for gay sex whilst one of the Doctor's then-companions, straight buff blond cop-from-the-future Chris Cwej, was enticed into some boy-on-boy action of his own. Pretty astonishing developments for a series that started out as a kids show in 1963, and - despite the strides made under Davies between 2005 and 2009 - was this year desperately trying to offend no one and please Disneyophiles.

The Virgin novels were 90s cool, angst-ridden, edgy, challenging and very, very dark. They electrified my young mind, and fed my lust for words, for creativity, for drama. So much so that a short story I managed to get published featured a cruising sequence in a park based entirely on what I'd read in Damaged Goods - yes, Doctor Who taught me about cottaging.

The New Adventures were ahead of their time, and very much of their time. One of the last novels was entitled Eternity Weeps. Christ on a stick - what angst-ridden teenage boy wouldn't want to read a book with a name like that?

ka-os|theory presents the best of The New Adventures...

Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark by Andrew Hunt
'Spare no sympathy for those creatures. They were witches, they deserved to die.'

"A coach crashes on the M40. All the passengers are killed. The bodies carry no identification; they are wearing similar new clothes. And each has a suitcase full of banknotes.

A country vet delivers a foal. The mare has a deep wound in her forehead. In the straw, the vet finds a tapered horn. In the darkening and doomed world known to its inhabitants as Tir na n-Og, the besieged humans defend the walls of their citadel Dinorben against mythical beasts and demons.

The TARDIS’s link with the Eye of Harmony is becoming ever more tenuous and is in urgent need of repair. But the time machine takes the Doctor and Ace to a village in rural Wales, and a gateway to another world."

Transit by Ben Aaronovitich
'Oh no, not again...'

"It's the ultimate in mass transit systems, a network of interstitial tunnels that bind the planets of the solar system together. Earth to Pluto in forty minutes with a supersave non-premium off-peak travelcard.

But something is living in the network, chewing its way to the very heart of the system and leaving a trail of death and mutation behind it.

Once again a reluctant Doctor is dragged into human history. Back down amongst the joyboys, freesurfers, chessfans, politicians and floozies, where friends are more dangerous than enemies and one man's human being is another's psychotic killing machine.

Once again the Doctor is all that stands between humanity and its own mistakes."

Sanctuary by David A. McIntee
The Doctor pointed at Bernice. 'The wench’s mind is addled,' he said. 'Arrest her before she spreads her ungodly heresy.'

"The TARDIS is caught in the gravitational field of a dark star. The Doctor and Bernice are forced to evacuate, and find themselves stranded in medieval France - a brutal time of crusades and wars of succession.

As the Albigensian crusade draws to its bloody conclusion, men inflict savage brutalities on each other in the name of religion. And the TARDIS crew find their lives intertwined with warring Templars, crusaders and heretics. While the Doctor begins a murder investigation in a besieged fortress, Bernice finds herself drawn to an embittered mercenary who has made the heretics’ fight his own. And they both realize that to leave history unchanged they may have to sacrifice far more than their lives."

Sky Pirates by Dave Stone
Avast, ye scurvies!

"Hoist the mainbrace, splice the anchor and join the Doctor and Benny for the maiden voyage of the good ship Schirron Dream, as it ventures into the fungral dark of air spaces occupied by the Sloothes - those villainous slimy evil shapeshifting monsters of utter and unmitigated evil that have placed a system under siege!

Watch Roslyn Forrester and Chris Cwej have a rough old time of it in durance vile! Meet the intrepid Captain Li Shao, and the beautiful if somewhat single-minded Sun Samurai Leetha t’Zhan! Roast on the dunes of Prometheus, swelter in the fetid jungles of Anea, swim with the Obi-Amphibians of Elysium and freeze off inconvenient items of anatomy on the ice wastes of Reklon in an apparently doomed search for the Eyes of the Schirron, the magickal jewels that will either save the system or destroy it utterly! Who will live? Who will die? Will the Doctor ever play the harmonium again? All these questions and many more will be answered within the coruscating, fibrillating pages of ... Sky Pirates!"

Damaged Goods by Russell T Davies
'Wherever this cocaine has travelled, it hasn't gone alone. Death has been its attendant. Death in a remarkably violent and inelegant form.'

"The Doctor, Chris and Roz, arrive at the Quadrant, a troubled council block in Thatcher's Britain. There's a new drug on the streets, a drug that's killing to a plan. Somehow, the very ordinary people of the Quadrant are involved. And so, amidst the growing chaos, a bizarre trio moves into number 43.

The year is 1987: a dead drug dealer has risen from the grave, and an ancient weapon is concealed beneath human tragedy. But the Doctor soon discovers that the things people do for their children can be every bit as deadly as any alien menace - as he uncovers the link between a special child, an obsessive woman, and a desperate bargain made one dark Christmas Eve."

Title quote: "Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art." Susan Sontag, American writer.


Dusty Boot said...

See.... I never really followed "Doctor Who" like that, but if I had known about those novels!

Wonder Man said...

Wow, I haven't about these books!

Sanya in España said...

The BBC range were never a patch on these babies. Not to mention the pap that's released now as companions to the current series...

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