Saturday, August 2, 2014

Doctor Who: Beautiful Chaos - A Book Review

Wilfred Mott is having a good week.  His beloved granddaughter Donna Noble has returned home from her travels with The Doctor for a quick visit.  More, the amateur astronomer has discovered a new star and is being honored with a dinner at the Royal Planetary Society, where the star will be officially named after him!  It almost makes the fights that are sure to spring up between Donna and his daughter Sylvia worth it.

The Doctor doesn't "do domestic" but he's all too eager to attend the dinner as Wilf's guest - if only to get away from Sylvia (who does NOT approve of her daughter running around with this Doctor fellow) for a few hours.  But The Doctor soon discovers that Wilf's new star is but one of several new stars suddenly lightning up the skies of Earth.  And what this means is that an old enemy has returned - an ancient force from The Dark Times who seeks revenge against The Doctor and all of humanity!

There is little I can say about how wonderful Beautiful Chaos is that is not already said in the book's introduction.  Actor Bernard Cribbins - who played Wilfred Mott and read the audiobook - is said to have thought the novel to have been written by Russel T. Davies under a pen-name because it did such a grand job of capturing the characters from the show.  High praise indeed!

Russell T. Davies himself said he found the story of Beautiful Chaos so touching it moved him to tears.  Writer Gary Russell may doubt RTD's sincerity on that point but what nobody can deny is that Davies apparently liked Wilfred Mott's lady-friend Henrietta "Netty" Goodheart enough to give her a mention in the final Tenth Doctor story The End Of Time - an honor I don't believe has ever been accorded to any character introduced in the Doctor Who novels!

It is Wilfred's relationship with Netty that is the core of this book.  Netty has Alzheimer's Disease and her bad days are beginning to outnumber the good ones, though Wilfred enjoys her company enough to muddle through things.  Theirs is a muted romance, with neither of them truly willing to push for a stronger commitment given the tragic ending they both know is coming.

Their relationship adds a welcome note of humanity to the tale, which would be a perfectly serviceable Doctor Who story without it.  Fans of the classic series will likely figure out the identity of the villain long before The Doctor thanks to Russell's masterful foreshadowing.  Fan of the new series will be glad to see The Doctor, Donna and Wilf captured in all their glory and the whole story acts as a welcome coda to Wilfred Mott's story in The End of Time.

Bottom Line: This book is a must read for all Whovians, great and small, classic and new, young and old.

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