THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "BAD THERAPY"
AND "THE ROOM WITH
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN JANUARY
Turkey, 2003: Bernice
and Jason join two
attempting to find
Noah's Ark. While
one TEAM FOLLOWS
THE BIBLE AND ITS
beliefs, the other
relies on a more
exact science - but
both paths lead to
the same revelation.
And, as the region
moves ever closer
to war, they uncover
the key to a timeless
mystery and terrible
are called in TO HELP
as countless numbers
flee THE biological
terror. The world is
about to undergo a
new genesis. While
Chris gets himself a
job with NASA, the
Doctor must unravel
the ties between THE
MOON, Mount Ararat,
and an ancient exodus.
apocalypse. But can
the aid of aN older
race, TOGETHER WITH
companions past and
present, prevent the
planet being twisted
into the image of a
To look at the cover of Eternity Weeps, once could quite easily take it for any
old piece of ultramodern pulp fiction. The gaping hole where the Doctor Who logo should
be portentously foreshadows the end of an era, whilst Jim Mortimore’s sparse use of the Time Lord himself in his story only serves to compound the reader’s mounting feeling of unease. This novel is, for all intents and purposes, a Bernice Summerfield New Adventure with the Doctor as her companion, as opposed to vice versa. Nevertheless, irrespective of however one may want to categorise this book, Eternity Weeps is completely and utterly brilliant. In fact, I’d go so far as to hail it as Mortimore’s finest novel to date.
Now although I’ve never questioned Mortimore’s talent for creating outstanding science-fiction works, it does have to be said that I haven’t got on tremendously well with all of his books - Parasite in particular stands out as a particularly vapid experience. To my eyes though, Eternity Weeps is Mortimore with all the fat trimmed away; fast-paced, fierce and entirely engrossing. Of course, the story is heavily grounded in some pretty serious science-fiction, but not to such an extent that a reader such as myself would either get lost or lose interest. As much as I enjoyed Blood Heat, for example, I couldn’t describe it as a page-turner. This book though, I really couldn’t put down.
I think a lot of this has to do with how the story is told. Doctor Who novels seldom employ
the first person narrative as a storytelling device, and I really can’t think why – this piece proves that, providing the author has the character from whose perspective he is writing nailed, then first person narration can suck the reader in much more effectively than more traditional third person prose does. Even though this novel is written in the past tense, the events depicted therein have a real immediacy about them; you feel like you are there and these things are unfolding before you. This device also allows the author to show just how Benny and Jason’s marriage crumbles from each of their points of view; Benny narrates
the first chapter, Jason narrates the second, and so on and so forth.
Whilst I’m on the subject, the decision to have Benny and Jason divorce so soon after their nuptials seems a strange one to me, especially considering how well Jason comes across
in this book. To be fair, I’ve liked Jason ever since his first appearance back in Death and Diplomacy, but everything that we know about him has either been gleaned from Benny’s point of view or from an omniscient one; one of which is, obviously, incredibly biased. And
so to get inside this guy’s head was interesting in itself; all those foibles that Benny seizes upon in her diary are there, present and correct, but what I found endearing was that Jason
is fully aware that he can be a cowardly, blundering idiot - he just isn’t quite sure how he can overcome his flaws! In this book he ends up doing some of the most stupid things you can imagine – trying to change history, for example – just to prove that he is not what he is and earn Benny’s respect but, in the end, as the Doctor so giftedly puts it: “by exercising his free will, Jason has in fact become an agent of predestination.” And by the end of the book, he has also become a divorcé.
However, it’s only the first half of the novel that dwells heavily on the breakdown of Benny
and Jason’s relationship, and even then they are separated and wrapped up in the most horrifying of adventures. On balance I think that I enjoyed this first half of the story more than second; imagine Indiana Jones, only with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez at the helm rather than George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and you‘ll have a fair idea of what
to expect here. As this story deals with some very real and present dangers like terrorism, hostage situations and killer viruses I found it to be much more chilling than I would have done a book about, say, Daleks or Cybermen. Especially in the early stages of this book,
the ‘baddies’ are bad humans with guns who don’t mess about explaining the finer details
of their plans so that they you may thwart them – they just shoot you in the face and force
your friends to bury you. But, at least so far as the terror content goes in this novel, this hard-edged realism is only the tip of the iceberg, for as well as being Mortimore’s best, Eternity Weeps is also the most horrific Doctor Who novel that I have ever read.
For starters, the Earth of 2003
is decimated by a virus; and not
just any virus. Agent Yellow is
frightening not only in how it is
able to wipe out billions of lives
so swiftly, but also in the manner
in which it does so. Simply put, it
burns them alive from the inside
out. Their blood becomes acid
and their bodies flame. And, in what I feel was a masterstroke, Mortimore has Liz Shaw - one of the Doctor’s former associates - die in this most gruesome, agonising fashion. Liz crops up in this novel as little more than an extra; no fuss is made by the author at all over
her identity. In fact, save for a veiled reference to the events of Blood Heat on Benny’s part, Liz’s importance to the Doctor is barely acknowledged and she certainly never meets him
in the narrative. I thought that rather than detract from the weight of her death, Liz’s reduced role in the proceedings only served to make each and every death on Earth – and believe me, there are billions – seem that much more significant. I mean, everyone who dies could be as important to someone as Liz is to the Doctor; indeed, much more so in most cases. But the way that she dies… I can see why some have lambasted it. It’s unspeakably graphic; her whole body just melts away, burning. The way that she stares up from the operating table at Chris - who couldn’t bring himself to carry out a mercy killing - through her one remaining eye is truly harrowing. And because the eyelid on her remaining eye has also been burned away, she can’t do anything but stare at him. Doctor Who hasn’t given me nightmares since
I was a small child but I now have the distinct feeling that tonight this trend will be overturned.
“I have walked in Eternity. And Eternity weeps.”
Eternity Weeps, as any reasonable person may gather from the title, is grim. It’s brutal and it’s savage and it’s overpoweringly sad. In his notes in both the front and back of the book, the author documents the recent personal tragedies of his own life in some detail, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if Eternity Weeps is some twisted form of catharsis on his part. But regardless, were I Colin Booth Mortimore, the author’s late father, I would be honoured to have such an awesome and thrilling novel dedicated to my memory. There aren’t many Who novels that can be described as being truly ‘edge of the seat’ stuff, but this one certainly can. I couldn’t stop reading and I couldn’t stay sat down.
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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