Doctor encounters a rather unearthly child. Like him, Miranda
has two hearts, an unusually low body temperature, and doesn't
remember where she came from. But forces from another time and
place are out to destroy her...
is practically three books in one. The first part is set in
the early 1980s, when the Eighth Doctor first meets the ten-year-old
Miranda. The second takes place in the mid-'80s, by which
time the Doctor has adopted the teenage girl as his daughter.
This is my favourite portion of the book, exploring the poignant
topics of teenage development, angst and confusion. The final
section is set during the late '80s, by which time Miranda
has declared her independence of the Doctor, but is suddenly
in danger once again.
1980s are vividly recreated by the author, who incorporates
historical realities such as urban decay, unemployment, space
shuttle launches and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, as well
as cultural phenomena that will spark recognition in the memories
of children of the '80s such as myself. References are made
to New Romantics, Smurfs, Buck Rogers, Monkey and an alien
who phones home. There's even a killer robot who can change
his shape like a Transformer or something out of Battle
of the Planets. Childish insults such as "Joey" and "flid"
are exchanged, while classrooms come equipped with good old
Quink ink. The Doctor is described, briefly but memorably
and amusingly, dressed like a yuppie, but not before he has
faced his old enemy: snooker! The narrative voice speaks from
a 21st-century perspective, looking back - it reminds us,
for instance, that in those days only millionaires had car
phones and nobody drank bottled water.
between Miranda and Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter and
first-ever travelling companion, are obvious. However, whereas
sloppy script-writing meant that Susan would behave like a
child throughout her tenure before suddenly being transformed
into a woman during her final adventure, Miranda is an extremely
convincing alien teenager. Parkin takes the opportunity to
speculate about Gallifreyan sexuality, an analysis that the
majority of fandom would probably not tolerate if it were
to be applied directly to the Doctor. Like the boys in Miranda's
high school, I found the character irresistibly intriguing.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I developed a bit of
a crush on her, and cared deeply about what became of her.
This book contains many a tense moment with Miranda in mortal
danger, and I spent much of my time mentally pleading with
the author: "Please don't kill her, please don't kill her!"
several of Parkin's previous books, particularly Cold Fusion
and The Infinity Doctors, this one makes daring moves
regarding the Doctor's relationships, his personal history
and the history of his home planet. As with those novels,
he leaves many questions unanswered. For instance, given that
Gallifrey was destroyed in The Ancestor Cell, how could
a corrupt empire of apparent Time Lords exist one million
years in the future? We are left to speculate that some Gallifreyans
could have escaped the catastrophe, but the author doesn't
spell anything out for us. This is a good thing, because it
leaves the door open for future exploration and interpretation.
has fathered a fantastic book.