Dr Who in the Moorcock Universe?
In October 2010, the Michael Moorcock novel Coming of the Terraphiles was released; this is an official eleventh Dr. Who novel, and while I am a massive fan of both Moorcock (at least the 70s and early 80s works) and Doctor Who, it occurred to me that many readers will only be familiar with Doctor Who and may wonder if this is a Doctor Who novel written by a famous author, or a Michael Moorcock novel that the Doctor appears in. This piece tackles that question.
The plot of the book is that in the far future the Doctor and Amy join a highly eccentric group of Gentlemen who are taking part in a competition to win the Arrow of Law by taking part in a competition that recreates ancient Earth sports through the long distance scanner of tens of thousands of years. Meanwhile the multiverse is under threat of destruction and the heroes must battle hat thieves and inter-dimensional pirates before the end of the story.
When conveyed to paper by the mercurial pen of Michael Moorcock this translates into a madcap journey around the far future which brings many a smile to lips of the reader.
So far, so good…
Back to the question – is this a Doctor novel or a Moorcock novel (or both!)?
At first glance amongst the multitude of new concepts, people, races and places, we have much of the vocabulary of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion Books – Law, Chaos, multiverse, Cosmic Balance and a character called Cornelius. Let us now forget that when he wrote the book for The Great Rock and Roll Swindle we essentially received a new Jerry Cornelius story (and were better for it!). What does this all mean?
Well, I happen to have also been listening to the Big Finish Key2Time trilogy – here the language is Law or Order, Chaos, multiverse and the Key itself brings balance to existence – we are not really that far apart.
We then need to consider the vast swathes of prose giving us the hilarious view back from the far future to (approximately) the Britain of beer, cricket, archery, darts, jousting and nut-cracking (via sledgehammer); this is all tremendous fun and very much in the style of Douglas Adams Hitchhiker books – not a bad pedigree. It also very much is in the style of Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time novels.
Where does this leave us?
Well, if I need to pick fault I would probably say that the novel doesn’t give enough sense of the eleventh Doctor – some description, not enough dialogue in his ‘voice’. Amy was also not very substantial until coming to the fore near the end of the of the book (maybe the last quarter). The story in its essence was pure Doctor Who – threat to existence, too many clues and mysteries and plenty of galactic wonder. It also keeps the Cornelius character as a cypher, maybe a further novel would explore?
This is a highly readable story, great fun and if it suffers it is from slightly too little focus on the traditional characters (of the Doctor and Amy) and too much novelty. It’s well worth a read though!
It is also called the Coming of the Terraphiles – next up the Return?
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Terraphiles it is available here: Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles from Amazon as a book or here as a CD audio book here: Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles: A thrilling adventure featuring the 11th Doctor and Amy. Enjoy