Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: Mad Dogs and Englishmen

(Sorry for the delay--the long weekend played merry hell with my posting schedule in general. This is being drawn from July 23rd, 2002, on the Doctor Who Ratings Guide, and I have to admit that my opinion of the book has softened considerably since then. I actually liked it much better on re-reading; I think I probably braced for a terrible novel after my frustrations with 'The Blue Angel' and 'Verdigris', and wasn't quite sure how to cope when I got an utterly hilarious romp. And the Doctor's line, "You've got 'lackey' written all over you' is one of the best insults he's ever come up with.)

Well, it was bad... but I certainly can say it was never boring. In point of fact, it was awful, but awful in one of those peculiarly entertaining ways that had me breezing through the novel, all the while entirely certain that the author wasn't pulling off what he thought he was. On the other hand, one thing was fingernails-on-blackboard, chewing-on-tinfoil, slamming-fingers-in-car-door level irritating...

Gallifrey is gone. Wiped from history. The Time Lords are no more. Only four remain of their race.

So why, oh sweet suffering FUCK, why did one of them have to be fucking Iris fucking Wildthyme? Why couldn't she have been retroactively erased from existence? Even if she wasn't, did we have to see her? Wasn't there a "no continuity" rule? Shouldn't Justin have said, "No, no old characters"? Or at least, "no, no gratingly annoying pastiches/parodies of the Doctor who've been in every fucking book you've written for the range"? I know that there will be some who say that her appearance in the book is short. To them, I say: NOT SHORT ENOUGH.

Other than that, the book is cheerfully, enjoyably awful. When the villains of the piece are Noel Coward and his Magical Pinking Shears, the Evil Poodle Empress, and a pastiche of what I can only assume is H.P. Lovecraft on LSD with a bestiality fetish, you can tell you are not dealing with a book that is meant to be taken as anything other than a joke. This is fine, so far as it goes, and so far as you basically then package it up, put it in a nice separate universe well away from the bleak, serious, deep, thought-provoking books on either side of it, and forget it ever happened to the characters you know and love. On that level, I really, really enjoyed Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

Except for the bits with Iris Wildthyme in them.

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