THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
"CHRISTMAS ON A
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN JUNE 1996.
THE YEAR IS 2157.
the Earth has been
invaded, and forces
are at work on Mars
to ensure that the
Stranded on Mars,
the Doctor and Roz
team up with a group
of colonists to find
at the North Pole. But
when their expedition
is joined by a party
of MARTIAN pilgrims,
tensions ARE stretched
to breaking point.
Chris finds himself on
Pluto's moon, trapped
ALONGSIDE a group of
scientists in a race
CAN EVEN the Doctor
solve the riddle of
the GodEngine BEFORE
the course of human
history IS changed?
Poor GodEngine. Never before has a New Adventure with so much promise been subjected to so much scorn for so few reasons.
For starters, many Doctor Who readers frown upon stories that make more than one or two passing references to earlier stories. ‘Fanwank’, author Craig Hinton calls it, his detractors obviously oblivious to the fact that he does so because fans are supposed to enjoy it. Like wanking. However, as Hinton fleetingly mentions Davros, the IMC, Magnus Greel, the Nimon, Tereleptils, Vulcan, and even the naughty old narcotic Vraxoin, some readers just threw the book down and shook their fists at the sky.
To be fair, I get a little irritated if the plot of some novel hinges on something inconsequential that happened in an old 1965 William Hartnell story, but GodEngine isn’t like that at all. For example, if you hadn’t seen Nightmare of Eden then presumably you wouldn’t have come across Vraxoin before, but from the context you would easily be able to infer that it’s some sort of 22nd century narcotic. Where’s the problem? Should Hinton have just wrote ‘heroin’ and had done with it? It would have been defeating the point of escapism just a tad if he had.
Personally, I relished the fact that GodEngine is essentially a sequel to The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Seeds of Death. Yes, there are also strong links to the Missing Adventure, The Sands of Time, and also to the classic Tom Baker serial Pyramids of Mars, but you could follow GodEngine effortlessly with little or even no knowledge of any of the above. Yet if you’re familiar with any of the aforementioned – particularly The Dalek Invasion of Earth – then you’re going to get a hell of a lot more out of this novel than those who aren’t.
Due to copyright reasons the Daleks’ involvement is rather peripheral here, but in truth this probably helps the book. The opening passages about the “black invaders” are especially memorable, the truth of that old adage ‘what you don’t see being scarier than what you do’ being proven once again. It has been so long since Remembrance of the Daleks now that
I can barely remember what a Dalek looks like, but the sense of dread that Hinton builds up around these “invaders” reminded me exactly why Skaro’s finest were so revered in their day.
GodEngine does still manage to directly answer
one significant question about the Daleks though –
namely why they wanted to hollow out the Earth’s
core and fly it around the universe like an over-
sized starship. It seems that they wanted to arm
the Earth with an Osiran superweapon, the titular
GodEngine, and then use their ‘Death Planet’ to
conquer and enslave the cosmos. It makes much
more sense than just flying the Earth around the
galaxy for unspecified kicks - I never did buy into
the idea of Daleks as galactic joyriders.
“We’re on Mars, we’re surrounded by Ice Warriors,
and the TARDIS has been destroyed. Business as usual, I suppose.”
However, whilst GodEngine may be set against the backdrop of the Dalek’s occupation of Earth, the real story is about the Ice Warriors. The preceding New Adventures have done a tremendous job of fleshing out the Martian culture and GodEngine is the proverbial icing on the cake. On television, the greatest strength of the Ice Warriors was always that there were goodies and baddies within their race; they were not all branded as evil or lauded as saints. Hinton pushes this further here – within the party travelling to the Cauldron of Sutekh with the Doctor and Roz are Martians that are amiable, and Martians that are repugnant. Even more interestingly though, we have a war criminal who has repented for his sins and chosen a holy path – wonderful characterisation. This group of Martians even helps one of the humans – McGuire – overcome his prejudice of them, at the same time perhaps helping the reader to do the same. I do feel that I know a bit too much about Martian genitalia now though, mind…
Chris’ segment of the story is a little less fascinating on a cultural level, but it’s indisputably more action-packed. Stranded on a desolate scientific outpost that he knows is destined to be destroyed, Chris falls in love with one of the doomed scientists, Felice, and takes it upon himself to rescue both her and her comrades. His one-man guerrilla war shows us what he’s really made of – he’s not just a dumb cop; he’s as resourceful as they come.
Hinton’s portrayal of the Doctor has probably been criticised more than any other element, and perhaps with just cause. The Doctor of GodEngine is quiet and foreboding, spending his time brooding silently in the background rather getting right into the middle of things –
he leaves that to Roz. Whilst I agree that the Doctor is perhaps a little too generic here, his being a bit out of sorts is to some extent forgivable bearing in mind that his TARDIS has just been (apparently) destroyed.
The ending of the book is executed particularly well – the TARDIS materialising only minutes after it took off at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth is sure to annoy the anti-fanwank parade, but it serves as an effective coda to the story. For the readers out there who aren’t au fait with the events of 2157, it’s necessary for the author to show that the “black invaders” are driven from Earth and that humanity prevails. Perhaps even more crucially, after the cruel and heartbreaking end to the story for Chris and Roz, it’s imperative for the Doctor to show the two Adjudicators that out of all the carnage came some good.
In all then, I thoroughly enjoyed GodEngine despite the adverse criticism that it has endured. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s still thoroughly absorbing; perhaps even Craig Hinton’s finest effort to date.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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