Sunday, 7 June 2009

Revolution Man by Paul Leonard

Plot: Someone is writing graffiti over the Earth using the drug Om-Tsor. The result is dangerous changes in time that should not have taken place. The Doctor, Sam and Fitz arrive in 1967 and are unaware of the massive changes they will face in opposing the Revolution Man…

Top Doc: He is fully aware he has contributed complications to Earth’s history. He has far too many memories that take him from the present and immerse him in the past. He feels he is going through something of a mid life crisis and wants to confide in Fitz about it. Revolution Man features a very dramatic take on the Doctor’s responsibilities to time as he dashes about trying to cancel out all of the Revolution Man’s meddling. Like Paul Leonard’s Genocide he is no longer the congenital idiot but a much darker, more contemplative character. The situation gets so dangerous at the climax he throws all of his morals away to fix the problem (see Twists) and its about time too.

Friend or Foe: This book features the best chemistry between the Doctor and Sam since The Scarlet Empress and the best all round interpretation of Sam’s character since Seeing I. She is marvellous, a far cry from the angst-ridden kid of the previous five or six books. Sam is intelligent enough to recognise the growing sense of dissatisfaction at the end of the sixties, wishful thinking turning into paranoia and hatred and she also identifies the darker side to the ‘Flower Children’, the sexism and homophobia that was still to be conquered. She thinks of Fitz as funny and intelligent and not half as cynical as he would like to think and when he says he is leaving the TARDIS it is sweet to see how shocked and upset she is about it (especially after giving him escape plan and first aid training!). She ingratiates herself with the TLB with ease, is contrasted wonderfully with psycho-campaigner Pippa and realises that meeting up with legends (Rex) is not always a good idea, as they never quite live up to what you expect. She is bright, resourceful, entertaining and perceptive. What took so damn long?

Scruffy Git: Failed romance number two: Maddie. Fitz is still unsure of the Doctor and his powers, when he heals Fitz’s girlfriend Maddie he thinks the Time Lord is some sort of God. He feels left out at the beginning, like a novelty the Doctor and Sam have grown bored of. He takes pretty much the first opportunity to leave the TARDIS but finds he misses the lifestyle, his life on Earth feels too ordinary. Entrenched in helping Maddie discover more information about Om-Tsor, he is kidnapped and brainwashed by the Chinese into a pacifist non-thinker and some of that influence still lingers at the end of the book. However he breaks free of that conditioning when he realises the world is in danger and commits and terrible act in the climax. He is still unsure of whether he did the right thing at the climax and so are we.

Foreboding: Fitz is MARKED, each time it looks as though he and the Doctor have split danger follows him and they are reunited. This happens in Interference, Time Zero and The Gallifrey Chronicles.

Twists: The consequences of people taking Om-Tsor are extremely dramatic. The train derailed, the earthquake in Rome, the ceiling ripped from the concert in London, the gun magically flying through the air and discharging…all of these are shocking moments but none more so than when Fitz and Jin Ming take some and chase each other (as giants) over the world, stepping over mountains, using oceans to break their fall, etc. Brilliantly, Fitz is thrown from a helicopter high in the sky. Red herrings are afoot concerning the identity of the Revolution Man…is it the Doctor, is it Rex…nope its Ed Hill, the supposedly dead rock star! The news that Om-Tsor will bring the world to an end is jaw dropping. None of these moments hold a candle to the climax, which sees Ed attempting to gain control of the TARDIS. In a desperate act to stop him Fitz shoots him through the head but this has no effect so the Doctor, in the only time in the series’ long history, picks up the gun and finishes him off. We cut away to a shocked look on the Doctors’ face and blood all over his coat. He then has to take drugs to ensure the safety of the planet. An unforgettable, powerful finish. I just wish all those cry babies who don’t like the Doctor using a weapon would bugger off, in a choice between millions of lives and one I know which I would choose. As a good friend of mine said this is Doctor Who not Doctrine Who.

Result: A mature piece of work and Paul Leonard’s best novel yet. Basing a book on drug taking was always going to be risky but Leonard pulls it off with real style, mainly because his prose has always had that sort of trippy, hypnotic feel to it that makes the scenes here of people intoxicated so powerful. The regulars are divine and it is astonishing to think it has taken this long to get them this right, but all three of them are vivid and used to drive the story along. The heavily bashed conclusion where the Doctor shoots Ed Hill is anything but disappointing, it’s the sort of sting in the tail these books should all have. Only the relative shortness of the book works against it, this is a storyline that deserves more time to let it breathe. All told, fantastic: 9/10

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