October Books 4) The Gallifrey Chronicles

4) The Gallifrey Chronicles, by Lance Parkin

My decision to read the BBC’s Eighth Doctor Adventures in a peculiar order has brought me to the end of the line, in internal chronology, after reading fewer than a tenth of them; so I could be filling in the gaps for some time to come.

Anyway, I thought at first that this was going to be a too-clever-by-half tale of intersecting rival continuities. It’s better than that, I’m glad to say. A lot of the plot features another Time Lord exiled to Earth, who has been writing science fiction novels over the last century or so (these are the Gallifrey Chronicles of the title, a beautifully developed concept); he bears a grudge against the Doctor, and triggers an invasion of Earth by loathesome insects to get even. (I loved the idea of the insects spraying goo which doesn’t actually kill people but makes everyone else believe the victim is dead.)

There are some slightly baffling bits of continuity. I still don’t have the backstory abouit the destruction of Gallifrey (in EDA continuity, that is; I have enjoyed the Big Finish version) but it’s not as relevant to the plot as I expected. Likewise the Doctor’s adopted daughter Miranda makes an appearance, the first time I had encountered her.

This was also the first book I’ve read with companion Trix, who has replaced Anji as female sidekick to Fitz (though Anji makes a welcome cameo appearance). Trix and Fitz take advantage of the approaching end of the sequence of novels and fall in love, after travelling together for some time – I think the most overtly physical relationship between two companions in the whole extended canon before New Who, though it’s not particularly explicit and is abruptly interrupted.

The ending is not really as conclusive as you would have liked for the termination of a series of more than 70 books. Of course, this is probably Russell T Davies’ fault more than Lance Parkin’s, but it’s a bit of a shame.

Anyway, once again Lance Parkin has produced a mildly confusing if generally readable book. Once again, I find myself thinking that I wouldn’t recommend it as a starting point for anyone wanting to get into the Eighth Doctor Adventures; but I have to admit I haven’t really identified such a starting point as yet.