A podcast exploring the written worlds of Doctor Who...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

For December: Atom Bomb Blues

If you still haven't listened to Erik & Sean's rousing discussion of Alien Bodies, you can download the episode here.

Before Sean switched on his randomizer to pick this month's selection from the proverbial hat, he had to think back about whether or not the BBC provided any past Doctor novels involving Christmas.  Answer: They didn't.  So, for December we present Atom Bomb Blues by Andrew Cartmel.  From the back cover:

Los Alamos, New Mexico, 1945.  The Second World War is coming to its bloody conclusion, and in the American desert the race is on to build an atomic bomb.

The fate of the world is at stake -- in more ways than one.  Someone, or something, is trying to alter the course of history at this most delicate point.  And destroy the human race.  Posing as a nuclear scientist with Ace as his research assistant, the Doctor plays detective among the Manhattan Project scientists, while desperately trying to avoid falling under suspicion himself.

As the minutes tick away to the world's first atom bomb blast, the Doctor and Ace find themselves up to their necks in spies, aliens of the flying-saucer variety, and some very nasty saboteurs from another dimension...

Published in November, 2005, this novel is the final installment of the BBC's Past Doctor Adventures.  They had already begun releasing the New Series Adventures featuring the Ninth Doctor and Rose months earlier, something of a death toll for the Past Doctor and Eighth Doctor series.

Author Andrew Cartmel is best known as the shows script editor from seasons 24 through 26 and for spearheading the "Cartmel Master Plan," which would have come to fruition in season 27, had the show not been cancelled.  This would have involved peeling away much of the Doctor's mysterious persona and revealing much of his back story.  They had barely touched the tip of the iceberg in "Silver Nemesis" by dropping hints that the Doctor harbored some deep, dark secret.  This was continued in the Virgin New Series Adventures, particularly in the final Seventh Doctor installment, Marc Platt's Lungbarrow.

The BBC Past Doctor Adventures which feature the Seventh Doctor and Ace differ quite a lot from the Virgin New Adventures not just in the way they exclude characters like Roz and Chris (if one were to be a continuity hound, all of the Past Doctor Adventures would take place before all of the Virgin New Adventures), but they feature a Doctor and Ace who are less riddled with angst than we saw in a novel like Conundrum.

Fun links:

The Doctor Who Reference Guide BEWARE: SPOILERS!
Andrew Cartmel's Wikipedia Page

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  1. Too bad you shot your Larry Miles, um, wad in November -- you could've gone with the fairly Christmassy CHRISTMAS ON A RATIONAL PLANET.

    But I've got a question about the stories you cover. Are Telos novellas in the mix? If so, I've got one to suggest. One month when you're busy with work and don't have much time for reading, consider BLOOD AND HOPE. Not saying it's the best in the range -- a lot of people still think that belongs to TIME AND RELATIVE -- but I think it'd be interesting to hear two Americans talking about an adventure wholly set in the American Civil War. Erik might like the piece for its unusual structure, as it's mostly told in first person, minor character (through letters). Sean might dislike it because it's Fifth Doctor but like it cause Erimem's presence pulls it away from televised Fifth Doctor territory, and you can just imagine a better American accent on Peri. In fact Peri's precisely the right televised companion for this one, cause she's not lovin' being "home" in America of the Civil War.

    It's further cool cause it's the longest prose work by someone who's mostly written audios and comics, so you can opine about the success of him working in another medium. Iain McLaughlin is also the originator of the character of Erimem, so you'd be getting the "purest" vision of the narrative promise of that audio companion.

    Just somethin' to think about when time is tight.

  2. Ohhhhhh, you may have meant the formal Past Doctor Adventures range, not just a past Doctor book. Well, I guess they're all "past Doctor books" now. Of course you meant a PDA. Silly me!

    In that case you'd want WOLFSBANE, the Four/Eight multi-Doctor story where the Sarah Jane bits (about half the book) are in rural England, Christmastime 1936.

    There is also, oddly, a Thanksgiving tale called DRIFT, with Four and Leela, set in snowy New Hampshire. It's a fun thought for next November maybe.

  3. Darth--

    Thanks for the thoughts! 'Wolfsbane' was actually going to be a pick some months back but got replaced for reasons I genuinely don't recall.

    As for the Telos range, well, that's a bridge we've neither crossed nor burned. My inclination is to generally stick to the 4 ranges we laid out initially, but who knows? I already have thoughts about trying to do the Gareth Roberts novelized 'Shada' when it comes out next year... We'll see.

    Thanks again!