THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AND "RETURN OF THE
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN JULY 1996.
Europe is recovering
from the SO-CALLED
Age OF Reason. But in
New York, something
is spreading its own
brand of madness
through the streets.
Secret societies are
crawling from the
there's a Satanic
town where festive
cheer and random
violence go hand-in-
Chris is trapped on
board the TARDIS
with someone who's
been trained to kill
him. And when Reason
itself breaks down,
even the Doctor can't
be sure who or what
he's fighting for.
to town, and the end
of civilisation is
a Rational Planet
Christmas on a Rational Planet has the most intriguing title of any Doctor Who novel that I’ve ever picked up, as well as one of the most striking cover paintings, and one
of the most memorable quips from the author on the back cover – I have a finite number of cats. All of the above just screamed out genius to me. And then I opened up the book.
Was I wrong? I sincerely don’t think that I’m qualified to answer that question. Christmas on a Rational Planet is completely bizarre. The wacky plot – if indeed there is one – eluded me completely. For nearly 200 pages Lawrence Miles perplexed me from one page to the next with his delicate prose before giving me almost 100 pages of unabashed, unadulterated fan service.
Accordingly there is little that I can say about the events of this novel. Set in New York State, December 1799, the opening two-thirds of this book (parts 1 and 2 of 3, curiously enough) see Roz stranded a thousand years in her past, subjected to racism etc, and so, completely against character, she tries to kill someone called Samuel Lincoln, reasoning that he would likely be a forbearer of Abraham Lincoln and that the Doctor would never let her alter history and thus he’d have to come and stop her… but then we learn it isn’t Roz, but a duplicate; a baddie Roz with a different middle name. And that’s about where I lost her thread.
As for Chris, the past, present
and future of the entire universe
rest solely upon his shoulders
as he has to choose between
a universe of reason, under the
continuity of the Time Lords, or
a universe of irrationality under
the Carnival Queen. Lucky that
he had Kamelion’s ghost or the
TARDIS’ telepathic circuits or
whatever it was to help him out.
Then, as if things couldn’t get any more extreme, Miles tears Gallifreyan mythology wide open. It seems that in his Academy days, the Doctor once played a perilous game called “Eighth Man Bound” in which a young Gallifreyan tries to trick his body into regenerating whilst mentally holding off actual regeneration, allowing him to see a glimpse of his potential future lives. Rumour has it that the Doctor saw all the way to his eighth incarnation – further than anyone before him ever had, hence the name of the game. We learn that the House of Lungbarrow – the Doctor’s House – has a member called ‘Grandfather Paradox’ who has
a dragon tattoo, not unlike the third Doctor’s – it’s a family thing, you see; well, either that or the Time Lords' way of branding criminals and exiles. Or both. We also learn that these Old Entities like the Nestene Consciousness and the Great Intelligence are not from a universe before ours – they are from the universe before the Gallifreyans stapled a Vortex straight through the middle of it, anchored its continuity and proclaimed themselves the Lords of Time - a victory for reason, as it were.
There are so many other little implications too. The pseudo-cliffhanger climax suggests that old Chris Cwej is for the chop in the near future, all Daleks are male... oh, and Abslom Daak (from Deceit) is fictional – the Doctor just exaggerates and twists his history, recording it in the TARDIS databank as he thinks that it should have happened. That might explain a thing or two.
The subject of the Doctor’s DNA crops up more than once too – I get the distinct feeling that Miles is trying to dig us out of a TV Movie-shaped “half human” hole. At one point the Doctor is even exposed to a sort of “irrational rain”, the implication being that his biology is some-how altered. I wonder.
And believe it or not, hidden behind all these knock-your-socks-off revelations is a story – a story about the psi-powers that the TARDIS crew first encountered in SLEEPY; a story that sees the rational versus the irrational; a story about man versus woman; white versus black. And what better backdrop to tell such a story against then the so-called Age of Reason?
In short, Miles’ debut New Adventure is utterly twisted; warped beyond all reason. The ability to bound from ostensibly nonsensical gibberish to absolutely confounding concepts within a sentence is certainly a skill, and so whilst Christmas on a Rational Planet is a novel that you may not necessarily like, you certainly won’t forget it. Ever.
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.
The Doctor’s exposure to the “irrational rain” here may have altered his biodata on some relatively minor level, potentially explaining the inconsistencies in his timeline arising from the transition from Virgin to BBC Books (those thrown up by The Eight Doctors, in particular). The Doctor’s biodata would later be altered much more significantly at the hands of the same author in his two-part novel Interference, although this would later be undone by The Ancestor Cell (which would also herald the return of this novel’s Grandfather Paradox).
Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.
‘Doctor Who’ is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.