Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book #17

Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles, by Michael Moorcock. Paperback.

There is a subset of Science Fiction called "Hard SF," blending real-life science, technical detail, and realistic situations. Whatever the exact opposite of "Hard SF" is, that is what Michael Moorcock's first foray into the world of Doctor Who is.

This novel is a light-hearted, rollicking adventure that doesn't even try to make sense. That was fine with the me -- the novel fits the attitude of the TV show, which is about a crazy man with a blue box, plying the time stream to right wrongs and protect Earth from alien invasions. But this "fast-and-loose" attitude may turn off readers looking for something more substantial.

This novel features the eleventh doctor, as portrayed by Matt Smith. He is accompanied by Amy Pond -- there is not a single mention of Rory Williams. The Doctor discovers that the veil between this universe and the next is in danger of collapsing, and only a particular can save the multiverse. The artifact is the prize in a competition among Terrapihles, dedicated followers of old Earth history and customs. They weasel their way into a team competing in the 'Terraphile All-Galaxy Renaissance Re-enactments Interworld Series Tournament', a competition featuring a series of re-enacted Earth sports, many of which are not Earth sports at all, and the rest mutated versions thereof. These humorous descriptions are probably the highlight of the book.

Unfortunately, the Doctor is not the only one seeking the prize. An old adversary, Frank/Freddie Force and the Anti-Matter Men, also want the artifact. But they want to use its power to destroy the multiverse forever. The final round of the tournament comes down to the Doctor's team and anothers, and he and Amy have to give it all they have to win the tournament and save the multiverse.

Moorcock catches the light-hearted tone of the Doctor's adventures, and builds a sprawling world of interesting characters and situations. But his characterizations of the Doctor and especially Amy are a bit off-target, and the plot is so wacky that it is hard to take the work seriously. That being said, the humor worked for me, and overall I found it an enjoyable read.

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