Sunday, 30 June 2013

A New Life

Not to be confused with A New Life, although that would be easily done seeing as they are two stories in the same book with exactly the same name.

I think that is supposed to be Sarah in the picture, with the Doctor being the ominously silhouetted manny behind her. I am no longer the least bit surprised when the Doctor's Companions look nothing like they did in the TV series.

A New Life is a story that starts well, with the Doctor and Sarah spending well over a whole page (out of the four pages of the story) exploring a ruined, post-apocalyptic landscape populated only by the bodies of mannys going

"The Doctor pushed one of the doors, and it fell to the ground in a powdery heap. As he stepped inside, his feet caught on something and, looking down, he stiffened. There, on the dusty floor, lay a skeleton, its arms outstretched as if to protect the two small skeletons beneath them."

It is described most atmospherically, though (appropriately for a Tom Baker Doctor-and-Sarah era set story) I doubt Mary Whitehouse would have approved. The characterisation of the Doctor and Sarah is also well done, at least in the first half of the story. They find a mannyhole to explore.
"The Doctor turned a face of studied innocence towards his assistant. 'Whatever gave you that idea?' he said, and then spoiled the effect by grinning. 'Nowthatyoumentionitthough, we might find a clue down there. Are you game?'"

They go into underground tunnels and are attacked by a monster.

"Something was swimming towards them. There was a flurry of water as it broke the surface, and Sarah screamed. The 'something' was about the size of a dog, with huge gaping jaws and a silvery body covered in scales. It attacked the boat with great ferocity, snapping and snarling as it tried to reach them."

This exciting scene carries us past the halfway point of the story, with the Doctor fighting off waves and waves of doggy-monsters with a burning torch he finds until they are rescued by mannys with spears.

"As soon as it was safe to move, the Doctor got up to thank their rescuers, only to be met by two stern white faces and two more spears, this time pointing at himself and Sarah."

Of course they have immediately gone from one peril to another. "Out of the frying pan , into the fire," you might say.
"As they stepped into the other boat, the Doctor gave Sarah a lopsided grin. 'Out of the frying pan, into the fire, eh?'"

Oh, he did say. Anyway, this story has clearly used up all its good ideas by this point and descends into cliche for the last page-and-a-bit. The Doctor and Sarah are taken to the mannys' leaders, who think them spies and order them to be killed. So they are chained up to be nomed by the doggy-monsters. It also becomes clear that the Doctor has used up all his 'acting properly like the Doctor' ability by this point too.

"In spite of herself, Sarah had to smile. 'Tell me a joke,' she said. 'It doesn't have to be very funny, just as long as it keeps my mind off our predicament.'
'I thought we came here because you were sick of my jokes!' retorted the Doctor. 'You women just don't know your own minds, that's your trouble!'"

They are rescued by a manny called Barda, who believes they came from the surface where, according to the manny's leaders, nobody is supposed to be able to live. Yawn, blah blah blah, Barda takes them to the surface where "he breathed in the sweet fresh air, and felt the sun on his skin for the first time."

The Doctor and Sarah have had enough of this adventure. So have I. They go back to the Tardis. I'm going back to sleeps. Zzzzz.

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