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Book Review

Book Cover

Dæmos Rising


Author: David J Howe
Publisher: Telos Publishing
138 pages
RRP: UK £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 84583 977 2
Publication Date: 13 August 2019

“In the void between time, the devils waited… patiently… to be summoned again… to pass judgement on the Earth…” Kate Lethbridge-Stewart is summoned by an old friend, Douglas Cavendish, formerly of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, to help him with a problem he is having with ghosts and voices in his head. But when Kate arrives, she finds more than she expected. Aided by a time traveller from the future, she must outwit both the ancient race of Dæmons, and the Sodality, a human cult-like organisation from the future, which is intent upon gaining control over time…

This novelisation is adapted from the Reeltime Pictures drama Dæmos Rising, originally released in 2004, which was itself a sequel to the 1971 Doctor Who serial The Dæmons and the 1995 Reeltime production Downtime. The returning characters, creatures and concepts appear by arrangement with the individual writers who created them – the book has not been licensed or approved by the BBC. It also acts as a prequel to the Telos Publishing Time Hunter novella Child of Time.

It’s taken 15 years for Dæmos Rising to be turned into prose, but now it forms part of a mini-renaissance of Doctor Who-related novelisations from Telos, joining 2017’s Olive Hawthorne and the Dæmons of Devil’s End and this year’s Sil and the Devil Seeds of Arodor on the bookshelf. The size and design of the book lovingly re-creates the look of those mid-1970s Doctor Who novelisations from Target Books, even down to the use of the target icon in the publisher’s logo and a “CHANGING FACE OF…” caption on the half-title page, which here refers to Kate Lethbridge-Stewart rather than the Doctor. The retro-art cover by Andrew-Mark Thompson mimics the style of Chris Achilleos.

As a video production, Dæmos Rising ran to 53 minutes, so in order to produce a decent-size novelisation David J Howe has expanded upon his original script. Most of the new material occupies the first 40 pages of the narrative, including scenes set during the respective aftermaths of The Dæmons and Downtime. Olive Hawthorne, the white witch played by Damaris Hayman in The Dæmons, puts in a couple of brief appearances, which are charming but largely inconsequential.

Sadly, this preamble robs the main story of much of its suspense. For example, the opening chapters make it perfectly clear where the voices in Douglas Cavendish’s head are coming from. That might have been acceptable had some mystery remained surrounding the nature of the ghost. We are introduced to this being when he is still alive. When he becomes an insubstantial spirit, during the chapter “Lost in Time”, we witness his realisation of the fact. The connection between the living character and the ghost could and should have been saved until later. Worse still, his reaction to his altered state doesn’t come across as believable. He accepts the change in a matter-of-fact manner, with none of the horror one might expect, and no sense of bereavement for his fallen friend. The chapter even ends on a flippant note.

Speaking of unwanted spoilers, at the back of the book there are eight pages of colour photographs from the making of Dæmos Rising in 2004. If you haven’t seen the video, or haven’t seen it for a long time, don’t be tempted to take a sneak peek until after you’ve read the book. I did, and was unfortunately reminded of a plot development I’d forgotten about!

The characterisation of Kate and Douglas is more convincing, if a little basic. Much of the story is told from the perspective of Kate, whose thoughts occasionally turn to her father, the famous Brigadier, and her son, Gordon. She is cast as a motherly figure – “Everyone’s Mum. That was her. She just couldn’t help herself” – which foreshadows her caring yet commanding role as Chief Scientific Officer of the Unified Intelligence Taskforce during the eras of the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. A more direct reference to her future adventures occurs when Howe mentions UNIT’s Black Archive.

The creation of Dæmos Rising is inextricably linked with that of Telos Publishing’s Time Hunter series, which was just getting under way when the DVD was originally released, and would continue for three years afterwards. Here the author strengthens the connections between the two, particularly in terms of presaging the events of Child of Time, which had not yet been written when the DVD came out.

In view of all the additional material at the beginning of the book, the ending is surprisingly abrupt. For the resolution of the story arc involving the Sodality and the Dæmon Mastho, you need to read Child of Time, which is now available as an ebook. Even so, I expected there to be a bit more of an epilogue with Kate and Douglas after their experience.

Dæmos Rising is a valiant effort, but doesn’t entirely rise to the occasion.


Richard McGinlay

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