WARNING: This review contains Spoilers that may ruin your enjoyment of this novel.
For those who don’t know, the author of this book, Gary Russell, is well known to the world(s) of Doctor Who. Back in the Nineties he produced some excellent reference tomes and fictional work in comics and novels whilst then heading into the Noughties working with Big Finish. Nowadays, you can find him helping out the BEEB with Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and as the ‘continuity guy’ on Who itself. And so now he finally gets his writing chops around to the current series, and a damn fine job he does too.
Beautiful Chaos is rendered, rather unflatteringly it must be said, all too familiar by the blurb on the sleeve suggesting another population-of-the-world-under-some-kind-of-hypnosis-or-something type story. But Russell knows how many times we’ve seen that in the world of Who of late and gives the intriguing backstory of this alien threat a bit more credibility; planting the seeds of this proposed human domination back in the Doctor’s past.
The past here being a certain old foe, the Mandragora Helix, last seen in the Tom Baker tale from 1975, The Masque Of Mandragora, who is now intent on using the human race to enslave the universe. As I said, it’s a simple takeover plan but it’s the author’s perfect encapsulation of The Doctor, Donna and Wilf that will keep you turning the pages.
In fact, when they’re not in on the action, you might find yourself reading that bit quicker, getting to all the fun with the gang. Russell clearly has a grasp of their speech patterns as well as attitude and peppers the story with some cracking rapartee between the three. Fact fans may note that The Doctor is a fan of Countdown, for instance.
Beautiful Chaos, like the rest of the book range it forms part of, is aimed at the younger readers but for this ‘older’ reader it hit the spot. It’s not demanding in any way and you may find yourself slightly annoyed at its simplicity, but it’s perfectly pitched for the intended age range.
The story is bookended with some beautiful scenes with Wilf on his allotment, post-Journey’s End lamenting the loss of the real Donna Noble (as I still do every day) and yearning for The Doc to pop by for a ‘cuppa’. Gary reveals his total understand of how ‘New Who’ works using the emotional resonance of the characters and the events of this year’s series finale
So, my request to the BBC (or, rather, Steven Moffat) is, “Please give this man an episode!” ‘cos he clearly knows how to write for the genre and form.Beautiful Chaos is out now.
30 December 2008