Doctor Who
Foreign Devils

Author: Andrew Cartmel
Telos Publishing
RRP 10.00 (standard hardback), 25.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 10 3 (standard hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 11 1 (deluxe hardback)
Available now

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe land in China, 1800. A supposedly harmless relic called the spirit gate whisks Jamie and Zoe through time and space. The Doctor follows them to England, 1900, where a bizarre murder soon takes place. The Time Lord joins forces with Thomas Carnacki, an expert in all things mystical...

And so the Doctor Who universe continues to expand to encompass other mythologies. The same universe is already occupied by Professor Quatermass (if the reference to "Bernard" in Remembrance of the Daleks is to be believed), Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson (who appeared in the New Adventures, All-consuming Fire and Happy Endings) and James Bond (who is alluded to in the novel Bullet Time). Now Andrew Cartmel has brought in the supernatural investigator Carnacki, a creation of the early 20th century writer of weird fiction, William Hope Hodgson.

If you're not familiar with Hodgson or Carnacki (I certainly wasn't), then fear not, because a foreword by Mike Ashley explains their backgrounds to the uninitiated. This volume also includes an example of a Carnacki short story, the unnerving "The Whistling Room". On the strength of this, I may well seek out other examples of Hodgson's writing.

The Doctor and Carnacki strike up a good working relationship. The Time Lord holds great respect for the investigator, while, unlike Sherlock Holmes, Carnacki is not too proud to welcome the Doctor's assistance.

The subtly sneaky second Doctor is well realised by the author, although he does possess a couple of hi-tech gadgets that seem better suited to later incarnations. One of these is a huge screen that covers one entire wall of the TARDIS control room, which the Doctor activates when his usual tiny monitor ceases to function. However, perhaps the presence of this wall screen explains why one of the control room's walls often appeared to be completely flat during the 1960s television episodes (in the real world, the reason was that it was actually a photographic blow-up)!

Zoe also seems ever so slightly out of character, coming across as rather more cynical than usual. Jamie is largely absent, being written out presumably because the Doctor/Zoe/Carnacki team is quite large enough for this book without him.

Cartmel has crafted a creepy, mysterious and elaborate plot, with shades of his telekinetic tale for Big Finish, Winter for the Adept, thrown in. Full of memorable characters and incidents, this is easily the most enjoyable novella in the Telos range since Kim Newman's Time and Relative.

Richard McGinlay

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