Systems of Magic

Caleb W scalebw at
Tue Sep 3 03:51:55 EDT 2002

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-dwj at [mailto:owner-dwj at]On Behalf Of
> Kathryn Andersen
> Sent: 25 August 2002 22:44
> To: dwj at
> Subject: Re: Systems of Magic
> > There was a Doctor Who book I read which had  the Doctor arrive on a
> > fantasyland planet only to have space explorers land there soon
> after - the
> > juxtapostition of genres was quite fun, as was the inevitable
> "scientific"
> > explanation of how magic was possible.
> Title?  Not that I'm really reading DW books nowadays, I think the last
> one I read was "The Infinity Doctors" and now the companions and the
> situation has changed so much I feel very reluctant to try to read any
> of them because I'll be completely lost.

Sorry I didn't reply sooner, I've been away. Ah, an invitation to talk about
Doctor Who *big silly grin*. The title is "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and
it's by Christopher Bulis. Being one of the Missing Adventures published by
Virgin Books, it's now out of print, but I picked up a copy second hand.

As for the current Doctor Who books, the editor has said that he intends the
books to be readable as stand alone books, although there are ongoing
threads, such as the time travel "arms race" now the Time Lords are gone,
plus the Doctor's amnesia (How many times has the 8th Doctor lost his
memory? Once may be considered unfortunate, twice is forgivable, but three
times looks like carelessness.) and the recurring character Sabbath, who is
a kind of time travelling Captain Nemo who sees himself as the replacement
for the Time Lords.  I think (and the general consensus seems to be) that
the quality of the books has gone up since the new editor came in. I really
can't tell how confusing it would be to jump in. The discussion lists about
the books have lost the piles of "What do I need to have read to read..?"
questions, which is fairly encouraging. I wouldn't go for the very latest
books, "Camera Obscura" or "Time Zero", since I've heard they are quite
heavy on the on-going elements. "The Adventuress of Henrietta Street" by
Lawrence "Mad Larry" Miles would explain a lot about them, but is a very
heavy read (the Doctor teams up with sorceress-courtesans in the 18th
century to help save humanity from being ripped apart by apes that are
embodiments of human ignorance as the event horizon of human knowledge
collapses due to the disappearance of the Time Lords, all told as an
historical treatise!!).

> > A later Who book, The Scarlet
> > Empress, also had the Doctor visiting the definitely magical
> planet (of the
> > Narnia/Middle-earth/non-spells type) of Hyspero, and blew great big
> > raspberries at the portion of readers who demand a scientific
> explanation of
> > such things by just having it _happen_.
> (grin)
> > It's one of my favourite Doctor Who books, by the way.
> Hmmm, noted.  Would I be confused if I read it cold?

Probably not. It's an Eighth Doctor and Sam book (one of her better
characterizations apparently, although I haven't read many books with her
in, so I can't compare. She'd be a good candidate for the Annoying Heroines
thread in some books!) It's more fun if you have some knowledge of Doctor
Who lore since there are quite a lot of in-jokes and raspberries being blown
at established continuity wisdom. There aren't any links to ongoing stories
as far as I can tell. It's by Paul Magrs, but isn't as out and out bonkers
as his other books (Lord of the Rings spoof with pink poodles and a time
travelling Noel Coward in "Mad Dogs and Englishmen", for example).

As a final note, last year, there was a Doctor Who book, "Grimm Reality",
set on a fairy-tale planet, although it felt burdened with providing
"scientific" explanations. It was rather patchy - I loved bits of it and was
bored by others.

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