THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
OFFICIAL TELOS DELUXE
HARDBACK (ISBN 1-903
889-13-8) RELEASED IN
Unsettling things are
HAPPENING in a sleepy
THERE ARE Strangers
IN the harbour and a
mysterious object is
retrieved from the
sea. Then the locals
start getting sick.
Could this have
anything to do with
the beautiful Ruth
who local boatman
Steve has taken a
shine to? And why is
Ruth both drawn and
terrified by the sea?
The Doctor is perhaps
the only person who
can help, but can he
discover the truth in
Before reading Rip Tide, I had wondered what its ‘gimmick’ was going to be. For better or worse, the preceding Telos novellas had each had an extraordinary quality that
set them apart from the preponderance of Doctor Who prose out there, but ostensibly this one looked like it was going to be a wholly traditional, Earthbound adventure.
However, fantasy author Louise Cooper’s relatively lengthy novelette is in some respects
the most divergent of the first six releases. Completely devoid of any sort of malignancy,
Rip Tide is a Doctor Who tale without a monster; without a villain of any sort, in fact. Even Paul McGann’s exuberant eighth Doctor is so at ease that he casts off his customary Wild Bill Hickock garb to don his beachwear.
What I found really remarkable about this book though is that Cooper still manages to make her story both absorbing and suspenseful, laden as it is with dangers and mysteries. Indeed, despite the dearth of monsters and villains, my attention didn’t wane at all; a testament to the strength of her protagonists.
Cooper’s main character, Nina, is a
typically neurotic seventeen year-old
girl - a fact that is sure to put a good
few readers off this one on principal.
But I found Cooper’s portrayal of the
young lady compelling and insightful,
particularly in how the odd affection-triangle between her; her brother; and his inscrutable lady friend, Ruth; is fleshed out. The story’s quite tender climax even has something a moral to it as it brings Nina’s teenage hang-ups into sharp focus, contrasting them against real problems.
I think what stands out about Rip Tide above all else though is Cooper’s peerless portrayal of the Cornish coast. Her passion not only for the place itself, but also for the way of life that goes hand in hand with it, is evident on almost every page, lending her story a real vigour. Of course, Doctor Who meets Echo Beach isn’t going to be for everyone, but I certainly enjoy-ed the freshness of it.
Turning to the rest of the Telos trappings, I have been fortunate
enough to track down a deluxe edition of this book, and it really is
something to look at. The dark blue, embossed cover is refined
and striking (a remarkable improvement upon the appalling, sky
blue binding of Foreign Devils) and – although I had to flick to
behind the foreword to find it, causing me a momentary panic -
Fred Gambino’s frontispiece continues the range’s long line of dramatic (if not entirely representative) illustrations.
And this time, the foreword is from Stephen Gallagher, writer of
the television serials Warriors’ Gate and Terminus – two serials
that I don’t have much time for, to be honest, and two serials that
are about as far from Rip Tide as you can get. And in a sense,
that’s the beauty of it: this foreword sees Gallagher wax lyrical
about how the best Doctor Who stories are those that find fear in the familiar, something that
his two hard science-fiction concept pieces never did, but something that Rip Tide excels in doing.
Overall then, these Telos novellas really seem to be provoking polarised reactions from me; one contentious idea earning my scorn only for another to blow me away completely. And Rip Tide, I’m pleased to say, firmly falls into the latter category. A little gem.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This story is hard to place with any certainty. The only clues offered are that the Doctor is travelling alone, apparently has his memories in tact, and refers to Gallifrey in the present tense. It has therefore been placed (rather arbitrarily) after the Big Finish audio drama The Girl Who Never Was.
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