Michael Moorcock: The Coming of the Terraphiles. (Random House/BBC Digital, 2010)
Author: I’ve written this amazing fantasy novel set in a beautiful forest with all kinds of interesting creatures.
Editor: Well, actually I’m looking for a sci-fi novel.
Author: Oh, well I can move it to space, no problem.
Editor: Oh good. Who are the characters?
Author: I have this amazing set of sisters …
Editor: Ehm – I need a guy as the main character with a girl sidekick.
Author: I can fix that as well.
Author: And then the guy and girl fall in love at the end.
Editor: No … they are actually more like travelling mates.
Author: Oh – well, I can do that. And then they travel through space on an enormous spaceship.
Editor: More like they travel in an old blue policebox – it’s called a Tardis.
Author: A Tardis? Never heard of it. But don’t worry – I can make it work.
Editor: Just ditch the Tardis and use the spaceship – it’s easier that way. But the guy has to have something called a sonic screwdriver.
Author: Sonic screwdriver? Well, he dosn’t have to use it much does he, ’cause I don’t really know what that is.
Editor: No problem. Just mention it a couple of times.
Author: Sure thing. Does this character have a name.
Editor: Yeah, Doctor Who.
Author: Wasn’t that like cancelled many years ago?
Editor: Yeah, but it’s back.
Seriously, this is what this book felt like. Like it was just some generic book and then the author made some minor adjustments and voila – it became a Doctor Who novel. Now, I really liked shared universes – but I hate them so much too and this book is the reason why. At no point does it feel like a Doctor Who novel. It takes more than just calling the main character the Doctor and then naming his companion the right name. This did not feel like Eleven and Amy.
The story itself is some weird story involving reenactment of old Robin Hood type games, a stolen hat, a big tournament with only three teams (the Visitors, the Turists and the Gentlemen) and for the first big part of the book, it really didn’t make any sense at all. I had no clue as to what was going on. Villains cruised in and out of the book with no time to get to know – or dislike – them. None of the characters really stepped out of the book, neither the good or the bad buys. And the plot … well, it didn’t make much sense and you just kind of tried to read on, read on, desperately trying to get to the end in the hope that something would stand out towards the end.
And when you finally arrive at the end, it’s rather obvious – and not at all worth the time you spent getting there.
It all just tied together so neatly – too neatly: ‘We’re stranded here – maybe forever. But oh – see, the notorious villain comes to our rescue even though the odds against him finding us is staggering. But luckily he had something to guide him to us because someone else had foreseen this whole thing so tada – everything ties together in a neat little bow.’
Looking back, there were about two things I really liked about the book. I liked the idea of the part of the tournament where the contestants had to crack nuts with huge hammers without damaging the nut and there was a nice scene towards the end where we loose one of the main characters. This scene was the only one in the entire book where I felt an emotional contact to any of the characters and that’s just not enough.
Of course it didn’t help that the e-book suffered from some very bad formatting, the title showing up in the middle of sentences all over the book. It definitely did not add to my reading experience but at the same time, this book was so bad already that it just added to my already bad experience.
This is one of very few books that I wouldn’t recommend – the only other one I can think of is The Tommyknockers by Stephen King. It’s been several years since I’ve read it – or I should say tried to read it – and I couldn’t finish it. This one I finished – but it really wasn’t worth it.