Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Endnotes on Sky Pirates!

Doctor Who theory: p37 - There are millions of signals like this, from millions upon millions of disasters, shot through the Implicate like spiderstrands. The difference is that, here and now, this is the one we've intercepted. This is the one we can't [ignore]. p299 - All I can ever really do is buy you and others like you a little extra time.

p66 - She's ripped. She was almost pulled apart. Our heroes are injected into the story via TARDIS trauma, a favourite trope of the New Adventures.

p124 - Hoothi, Solarians, Greki, Sea Devils, Yeti, Silurians, Nazis, corporate arcologies, bogiemen, vampires, bodysnatchers and Bogwoppets from Altair XIV have variously known what it means to be my enemy or my friend. Ironic reversal of the Doctor's fame, first seen in Love and War.

p22 - ...floating three feet off the floor, juggling four variecoloured balls of blinding plasma and singing to himself an insane little song about a grackle, in three voices, simultaneously. A synthesis of the Doc and Legion in Lucifer Rising, highlighting their alien alikeness.

p19/20 - To what extent did he actively control the perceptions of those around him? I mentioned this thread in my Lucifer Rising notes. This is also an enlargement of the Doctor's schizoid behaviour first highlighted in Love and War. The dark reading is here redirected as the manipulations of the Charon.

p251/2 - But the acquisition of a pet incurs responsibility. That was something of which the Doctor had to be continually reminded. Obviously both Cornell and Aaronovitch had some complex ideas about the Doctor/companion relationship, but, taken as two datapoints, Love and War and Transit (p256) line up to give a fairly cynical tone. This scene joints the dots so that it can add some more.

p129-132 - Sometimes, she thought, the Time Lord was like something out of a particularly manic Chuck Jones cartoon. A tour de force that illuminates both Looney Tunes and Doctor Who. It ends with Benny's wondering if she can only make this analysis, which harkens back to the Love and War/Transit characterisation above, because the Doctor's distracted. The localised idea, that the Doctor has manipulated Benny's thoughts, is an explanation for her "change" in characterisation in The Highest Science and subsequent novels.

The fact that no sheep died today is the sole justification for any moral superiority that the dog who guards them has. Contrast with the first two quotes of this post.

The dog the lackey of a larger order which by its very nature kills, and kills, and kills again on an industrial basis. This deconstruction makes me think of how it's all about Pertwee...

p267-9 - I can't allow myself to be like that. The Doctor chooses to be human, treating Leetha as a companion. No I'm not [God]. I'm just the only alternative you've got at this point. The context is the Cartmel/Clarke/Cornell masterplan.

p293 - If we any of us allow ourselves to be like that we're utterly and irretrievably damned. The Doctor chooses to be human.

p288 - You've been taking us into the pit.

p292 - The seed of this novel is the Time Lord's eradication of life forms inimicable to humanoid life. This is a personalisation of the anthropic principle, that the universe must be the way it is for us to be here. This in turn might be a metaphor for history (less hamfisted than Falls The Shadow). There are ironies in the concrete setting and then the resolution.

Despite the plaudits given to Timewyrm: Revelation, Love and War seems like a more central novel to the New Adventures. Here is Benny, here is Death, here are Daleks and Earth Reptiles. More importantly, I'm not sure anyone ever really came back to Revelation. How could they, when they held it so dear? Love and War is more open to criticism. It's the one everyone wants to (re-)write. As it happens, the books I've been reading all try to deal with it.

Sky Pirates! in particular keeps bringing the matter up, with it on Benny's mind even more than it was in No Future. There are plot similarities: ancient Time Lord enemy manipulating an environment to give it sustenance, while the Doctor dithers until his one opportunity to win. But the plot transmutes: Leetha isn't Chosen. In the end, the Doctor is what he is in Human Nature, but naked now. The alchemical magic that seems to be at work is a transformation of Cornell's formulation of the Doctor as tragically lonely, who needs someone to be brave for, into Stone's formulation that the Doctor needs someone to keep him human. (The new series has hybridised the Doctor as tragically lonely, who needs someone to keep him human.)

Apart from the crazed stylistics and the hard science fiction, there's also a lot of textual reworking going on in this novel.

(Speaking of textual reworkings, you'll see a lot of this novel in Lawrence Miles's Christmas on a Rational Planet, Down, and Dead Romance.)

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