THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "DREAMS OF
EMPIRE" AND THE TV
STORY "THE ENEMY OF
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-
IN JULY 2002.
to life and begin
murdering tourists on
an exotic alien
island, the Doctor's
initial urge to
himself, Jamie and
Victoria right in the
middle of a jungle
If you talk about controversy within Doctor Who, then you inevitably talk about Mick Lewis. His debut novel Rags is one of the most fetid and foul stories in the whole canon, yet it is often one of the most vociferously lauded. Now whilst I have to admire Lewis’ bold and blatant style, I did not find the bulk of Rags to be all that compelling and, regrettably, I have to say the same for his Combat Rock... which, incidentally, appears to be a (Clash inspired?) genre of music, not a war-torn planetoid as I had erroneously presumed before reading it.
“Combat rock. Yeah...
Everyone’s insane, and our minds are burning...
Missing in Action while the Combat Rock played on.”
Nevertheless, Lewis is without a doubt an extraordinary talent. I could enthuse about his mesmerising and monstrous prose all day long, and his handle on character is certainly every bit as captivating and pioneering. In this novel, for instance, Lewis takes arguably the most naïve of all TARDIS crews and plunges them straight into the middle of a civil war on the jungle planet of Jenggle - a jungle planet where every other sentence is punctuated with either a ‘penis’ or a ‘whore’, and where cannibals torture and consume their human prey on
a near-chapterly basis. This brazen juxtaposition would clearly have fallen flat on its face were the regulars not portrayed as the very embodiment of their televised selves, but Lewis’ portrayals are so very faithful that - ‘penises’ and ‘whores’ notwithstanding – one can almost believe that these horrors are actually taking place within Season 5 in glorious black and white, eyeball-extractions and all.
However, save for in one or two memorable scenes, I quickly found myself lost when it came to Lewis’ supporting characters. Having more than one prostitute pseudo-love interest for Jamie hanging around was a little too much for me to get my head around, and indeed I found it hard to distinguish between different secondary characters generally. Of them all, only Pan the murdering rapist left any sort of lasting impression on me, but as he spends most of the novel murdering, raping or admiring his Piper at the Gates of Dawn tattoo, this
is hardly surprising.
“His torturer was poking at the Papul’s right eye with the pointed instrument,
fishing around in the socket as if trying to eject a recalcitrant pearl from an oyster.”
What’s more, as I have already intimated, I didn’t find the main storyline of Combat Rock sufficiently engaging to hold my interest across the 288 pages. Ostensibly an extended allegory on Indonesia’s colonial treatment of Irian Jaya, New Guinea (which it seems the author knows a lot about, thanks to his extensive travels) Lewis’ post-colonial commentary
is all but pulverised by the vivid atrocities that he chooses to depict. They are so very gruesome and so very visceral that it was all I could do to read one atrocity segue into the next, let alone consider their wider implications.
Nevertheless, there are doubtless a large number of readers out there who will love the audacity and the sheer bloodymindedness of Combat Rock every bit as much as they loved Rags. I think it’s fair to say though that the vast majority of Patrick Troughton’s fans who pick this one up with a view to taking a wistful Target-style trip back to 1967 will not only be disappointed, but downright horrified!
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.
Neither this novella’s blurb nor its text offer any firm clues as to its placement. Given the companions used and how they are portrayed here, we suspect that this story is set somewhere between the television serials The Ice Warriors and The Enemy of the World. Within this gap, we have placed it after the novel Dreams of Empire, which was released earlier.
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