Saturday, 21 November 2015

Maius Intra Qua Extra.

The bulk of the story being told in this remarkable book is set in Hulton College in Norfolk which is a boys school set during an age on the very cusp of a war which will change the world forever. Beginning with the assassination of The Archduke Ferdinand  by a Serbian terrorist which will set the ball rolling on a series of events which will culminate in the youth of Britain and Europe dying in their thousands in the most atrocious ways thought possible up to and beyond the ken of man.It is also the novel  upon which the highly regarded and much loved David Tennant era two part story is based. The novel is different from that stunning wee gem in the crown of that wonderful period but is also basically the same. The same intense and even emotional tale of a Timelord in search of humanity and a deeper understanding of the fragility of life and our may-fly hold on it. It is a great coming of age too. If you have ever had a Tom Boys School Days moment when you fell into the hands of a Flashman type school bully you will also have a lot to identify with in this novel. William Golding understood the nature of the wildness that exists just beneath the surface of us all and the kind of situations when we will answer that call of the wild. So does Paul Cornell.
The Doctor becomes  a human being using a device that is pure magic science. A Prospero charm that allows him to alter his entire DNA as well as rewriting his memories from an ancient cosmic being to that of a little Scottish school teacher raised by a stern minister father in Aberdeen. He becomes that which is most alien to him; a one hearted ordinary man. In the television version Daved Tenant dazzled as both The Doctor and John Smith, playing both differently if both wearing the same face. In Paul Cornell's words Sylevester Mc Coy excels delivering two career best performances, if you follow my line of thought. In Paul Cornell's hands and under the direction of his story telling Sylvester delivers two very strong characterizations though both of a different nature retain the same face in the theatre of the minds eye. To the point where I believe this very talented writer could pursue a career in the FPI as a profiler  such are the almost poetic observations with which he conjures up the ticks and winks that form a person. The lovely Benny is the companion here herself going through the traumatic aftermath of the loss of a loved one.It is Benny who originally bore the responsibility of care that Martha Jones inherited for the television adaption. Benny is a wonderful character in her own right with a history across different mediums that stretches back longer than most incarnations of The Doctor. This is another book in The Doctor Who History Collection and I had almost forgotten they are all reprints. Remembrances of a time when The Doctor was kept alive by virtue of the Virgin novels and the ever faithful ever excellent Doctor Who Monthly. In his forward to this novel Paul Cornell mentions how his proceeding book was the subject of scathing reviews and yet for the life of me I caqnnot remember which one it may have been. He is such a good writer it is hard to imagine any of his work being pooh-Pooed! Mind you some of the Doctor Who fans have exacting standards, impossibly Galifreyan standards. 
This is no rose tinted vision of a vanished England. This is a hard tale of innocence progressing towards manhood and to some degree the same process moving in a backwards direction. It mirrors the contrariness of human nature and almost succeeds in dazzling us with its reflected visions of a bygone age. It is about cowardice and bravery and it is about war and peace.
Mostly though it is about human nature.