Doctor Who: It Flies Sideways Through Time

. . No comments:
Christopher Morley looks back at the time Doctor Who met Hawkwind....sorta.


Just how easy is it to take the Doctor and incorporate him into another already existing fictional universe? Of course, The Mind Robber has already attempted it in a roundabout fashion. But what you get if you invite a cult figure like Michael Moorcock to make a Time Lord part of his own mythos is something like The Coming Of The Terraphiles...........


This is no knockabout romp, though, as Moorcock's a long-standing fan of Doctor Who! As he told The Quietus
"I watched it since it started, and I didn't actually like the first Dr Who, William Hartnell, because he used to be in The Army Game where he was a barking sergeant major, and I couldn't help seeing him as this barking sergeant major, but in a different suit! I liked Patrick Troughton better, because he was sort of fey and he started to bring that oddness into the character.

I didn't like Jon Pertwee because he was again a bit too posh, and I really liked Tom Baker. I sort of knew him; I met him once or twice, usually in a pub, and usually drunk out of his skull on 50 Valium and a pint of scotch, and ad-libbing like fuck.

And it's wonderful to watch the shows and know that all the other actors are just completely at sea because he hasn't given them their cue line, he's just come up with actually a better line, usually. So that was my favourite, like many people I suppose, and I still like him as an actor."
Back when Jon and Tom were full time TARDIS key holders, Moorcock began his long term collaboration with the British rock band Hawkwind. Their track The Black Corridor, for example, includes verbatim quotes from Moorcock's novel of the same name, and in 1982 he penned the lyrics for Arrival in Utopia....



Do you want to ride?
See yourself going by
Other side of the sky.
Well I got a silver machine
It flies sideways through time...
The TARDIS might not be silver, but how very apt from the man who would go on to write The Coming of the Terraphiles. The story itself is much unlike anything else in the Eleventh Doctor's literary canon, the mad man with a box finds himself dragged into tournament competition for the fabled Arrow of Law. Never far behind our good Doctor is Captain Cornelius, a piratical Captain Jack-type spacefaring detective implied to be a splinter of Moorcock's earlier creation Jerry Cornelius. Perhaps the Captain Jack similarity is what caused Moorcock's initial idea for Jack to encounter the then-newest of the Doctors & Amy to be abandoned? Indeed, the author picked up on that very point.
"Yeah, well, also… I mean, it's purely coincidental, but both Jerry Cornelius and Dr Who can regenerate. In Cornelius' case of course he can change sex; he's more like Captain Jack than Dr Who in that sense."
More businesslike concerns may also have prevented the inclusion of the former Time Agent!
"I wanted to have Captain Jack in, but they didn't want me to, again because they kind of save these characters up for a specific purpose. It's not really a strong idea they've got, but they know they might want to use it in a certain way. But that's what you get if you do a job for hire."
Nevertheless some of his own influences crept into the thinking behind the Terraphiles, a group of old-Earth enthusiasts recreating the spirit of times past and getting the whole thing a bit wrong. As Moorcock says,
"The only things they've got are old boys' magazines from the 1920s, and they've reconstructed Earth history entirely from Boy's Friend Library for 1920, and Sexton Blake, and so on. And again, in a way that's one of my enthusiasms, I'm absolutely interested in all that stuff. It's a view of Earth that you might get if you read a 1920s boy's magazine."



Not everyone was taken with the idea of Moorcock penning a New-Who novel, mind, with some heavy criticism coming his way even before the novel was published in 2010. Gven his professed admiration for the Fourth Doctor's era, the assumption that The Coming Of The Terraphiles was simply his idea of a story for that era tacked onto the travels of the man he would become in around eight selves' time was probably the lightest of the many brickbats levelled at both Moorcock and his work!

As The Week reported when news broke of comments Moorcock had written on his web forum,
"Haven't liked all the doctors and after Peter Davison stopped watching regularly until the new BBC Wales series."

The author had committed the heinous crime of ignoring certain parts of the programme's long history, and the fire was stoked still further when he went on the offensive against the very fans he was trying to please!

His claim that they possessed "a suspicion of the outsider which you used to get when someone with a reputation as a non-[science-fiction] writer would decide to write an sf novel. I hate these presumptions of exclusivity either in my own corner of the literary world or elsewhere."
Speaking to The Guardian, though, Moorcock was full of admiration for Russell T Davies, the man he saw as restoring the mojo of Doctor Who and returning the state of a love-hate relationship very much to "love".......
"Both comedy and SF depend on compression and exaggeration and are very often entertaining when combined. There's a long tradition of it: even Wodehouse wrote a funny, futuristic story early in his career (The Swoop! or How Clarence Saved England). In the SF magazines, writers such as Henry Kuttner, Robert Sheckley and L Sprague de Camp were best loved for their comedy.

Douglas Adams, of course, hit the jackpot in the 1970s with The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Davies and his writers realised this when the Doctor made his comeback some five years ago with Christopher Eccleston and then David Tennant in the role. Both actors have a talent for comedy and melodrama. The plots became increasingly complex, playing with ideas of time and space, and I became an addict again."
Adding to an earlier accolade,
"I think I like the character mostly because he remains largely unrationalised and ambiguous. Russell T Davies understood this and made it the Doctor's most attractive quality."
But it is indeed open to reader interpretation as to whether The Coming Of The Terraphiles fits more into Cornelius' universe than that of the Doctor.
"All time and space is open to me. I have to mix comedy and melodrama while telling an epic adventure story featuring a complex protagonist capable of ranging across the entire multiverse."
Whether he succeeded or not is down to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Warped Factor
Daily features, news and reviews from the world of geek!