THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE TV
DOCTORS" AND THE
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-
IN NOVEMBER 2004.
from beyond Time and
Their Target: EARTH.
Only one man stands
in their way. A man
destiny has made
The implications are
After the Doctor’s relatively recent foray into the animated world of The Simpsons in Dave Stone’s novel Heart of TARDIS, I was not really all that surprised to find the marionette world of Gerry Anderson encroaching upon the monochrome-filled pages of Simon Messingham’s Indestructible Man. The book’s tone, however, did take me surprise (particularly so, given Black Sheep’s garish cover artwork). Going into this book with pre-conceived ideas of spaceships and gadgets and shiny green spaceships, I was astonished to find Messingham’s tale an unremittingly grim one.
The Earth of the late twenty-first century is recovering from the invasion of a mysterious species, the Myloki. The world is plagued by hyperinflation and poverty; many of its inhabitants reduced to lives of slavery and suffering. And, as if that were not enough, Messingham throws in pair of imperishable bionic supersoldiers that the Myloki have helpfully turned into psycho-killers.
Yet peculiarly, the above is grounded in a world of puppet-like burlesque. Whilst I have never really watched Thunderbirds or indeed any of Anderson’s popular puppet series, like most people I am familiar with the basic tenets and so am able to appreciate at least some of this novel’s references. For instance, The Indestructible Man is abounding with Anderson-esque organisations such as PRISM, SILOET, and – best of all! – SEWARD. Messingham has certainly mastered Anderson’s gift for memorable, and even somewhat wry, acronyms.
Messingham also handles the regulars well, The Indestructible Man heaving misery onto
the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe in fairly equal measure. Jamie’s misadventure is on the face of it the most disturbing of the three, but in his delirium he strays so far from what I recognise as ‘Jamie’ that in the end I found it difficult to care. Zoe, on the other hand, is subjected to another Final Sanction-style psychological ordeal, albeit with a slight shift of emphasis. Believing the Doctor to be dead, Zoe if forced to grind out a new life for herself as a privileged slave. A privileged slave with a fiancée…
“I didn’t do a very good job of it did I? Getting shot right away!”
The Doctor is characterised best of all though; Messingham’s portrayal is Patrick Troughton through and through, regardless of the world falling apart around him. It is interesting that many of the novels to best capture Troughton’s Doctor have been the most forbidding – the result of the brutal juxtaposition of the darkness and the light, perhaps?
On the whole though, The Indestructible Man is not a novel that I would recommend. The author’s style and structure may be more straightforward than usual here (traditionally omniscient, save for a few dips into Neville Verdana’s Message Is Clear), but sadly I found his story to be far from the same. Whilst I am sure that most Captain Scarlet devotees will merrily saunter their way through this one, much of the material was lost on me and all I had to ‘enjoy’ was watching the TARDIS crew suffer. The only real hook for me was the mysterious Myloki; the author does a tremendous job of building up the hype around them throughout… only for the novel to end without them even making an appearance. For me, that just about sums this one up.
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.
This novel’s blurb offers no clues as to its placement, however the text describes Zoe wearing the distinctive jumpsuit that she did in the television serial The Invasion. We have therefore placed it shortly after that story.
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