Thursday, 9 April 2015

SEASONS OF WAR: Tales From A Time War - ed. Declan May (2015) PART 11

Paul Driscoll is in danger of becoming my favourite new author in this collection.  After his excellent initial offering, 'Stoarage Wars', his second story "The Time Lord Who Came to Tea' manages to continue at the same high quality level.  It's a deceptively simple story, with the Doctor and a child crossing a war torn landscape to collect some much needed supplies, but it's the incidental detail and the world building which impresses.  Dalek Meat Traders, Puritanians, the protection of rotting corpses and the promise of Arcadia - each element Driscoll introduces adds a little more to the world he has created until, in the space of a few thousand words, Jericho feels as real as any planet from the tv show or novels.  I'd be happy to read more about young Sophienna and her world - can't say better than that.

Damn, this next story, 'The Nightmare Child' is about as unexpected as anything I've read this year.  Normal narrative structure is abandoned in part, replaced by the bastard offspring of James Joyce and Kathy Acker (minus the sex references).  it's not clear who wrote this - mention of wardenmen suggest that it may perhaps be John Davies - but the plot here is subservient to the language, the nameless author playing with words and phrases, combining and dissecting them with controlled abandon.

It makes sense to follow this linguistic tour-de-force with a story from Paul Magrs.  In the past I've read similarly experimental cut-up approaches by Magrs to Sexton Blake, Sherlock Holmes and Iris Wildthyme and so in a perverse sort of way it feels right that he should be the one to return the collection to the everyday.  In fact, reading it, I wonder if the preceding tale and this are not both his, as Davros turns out to be an old disabled guy in wheelchair, who lives in a tower block in urban London and dreams of the Nightmare Child.  This return to the setting of Magrs' and Jeremy Hoad's 'The Blue Angel' novel (my favourite Who novel), only updated for the new series, is both a surprise and a real pleasure and has, not to put too fine a point on it, quite made my day.

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