23 July 2013

Imaginary Flags

I have a series of posts over at Other Times about flags from alternate timelines. There are some interesting designs there. The name of each flag contains a link back to the original blog post describing that particular flag.

Flag of Sul Aliança

Flag of the Russian Federation

Flag of Res Publica Romana IV

Flag of the Habsburg Hegemony

Flag of Strumicvar

UN Battle Flag

Flag of Pan America

Flag of Neuschwabenland

22 July 2013

Book Review - Harry Sullivan's War

(image from Amazon.com)

Harry Sullivan was one of the companions of the Fourth Doctor Who (the Doctor with the scarf). He worked with the Doctor and U.N.I.T. on a number of adventures. In 1986 he finally got his own book - written by Ian Marter, the actor who played Harry on the show!

Ian Marter wrote a number of the novelizations of the old Doctor Who episodes. I've read his novelization of the Enemy of the World story since I'm a fan of the second Doctor and that story was incomplete in its original format. For this story Ian gets to create an original tale - one that does not have the time lord making an appearance.

THE STORY
It has been a decade since Harry last adventured in the TARDIS. He has left U.N.I.T. and has recently been transferred to a NATO research facility that develops chemical weapons. Harry is involved mostly on the antidote side of the research. As he begins working at his new position in a facility up in Scotland strange things begin to happen to him, including attempts on his life. Instead of notifying his superiors of the attempts he sets out to unravel things on his own.

Before long Harry is on the run from a terrorist group as well as from his own government which now suspects he is the actual spy. There are long chases across Scotland and into London itself. At times it seemed like I was reading a John Buchan book..... at least until Harry would say something stupid like "Oh my giddy aunt!" Hard to picture an action hero constantly using a line like that. Harry is also completely clueless - it goes beyond the expected amount of ignorance involved for a mystery, but he has such limited information about what is going on there is no reason for him to not immediately call his superiors.

I have trouble figuring out the exact motives of the villains. After spending time trying to murder our hero they then go to great pains to capture and imprison him. I'm not sure exactly what they wanted with the nerve agents they stole... I think the bad guys had a bit of a falling out as one faction became more violent than the original group. The group also used paintings by Van Gogh as a symbol of their organization.

Harry was way too gullible to the manipulations of the femme fatale of the story. He has a couple of encounters with Sarah Jane Smith as well, but they seem to be just 'friends'.

The ending was a bit confusing and involved a fight around the superstructure of the Eiffel Tower that might of looked good in a James Bond film of that era. Again, there is no reason for Harry to be anywhere near the villains at the end, it was a job for the British Secret Service. And despite how idiotic Harry could be at times the villains are even dafter as they follow through with their meeting in Paris after all that happened in the book.

CONCLUSION
Overall I liked the book. While it failed in may ways to be a good thriller and the story was confusing there was an enthusiastic energy that made it fun. It is also nice to see something in the Doctor Who universe that doesn't revolve around the alien-of-the-week trying to destroy or dominate the Earth. Big thumbs up for not creating a story involving that. It was a nice attempt to expand the universe and add elements from genres not normally associated with Doctor Who.

There were too many questions at the end. What about the potential medical discovery Harry made? What was the Brigadier actually doing in the villain's hideout? What about his friend's wife - was she involved in the conspiracy? What was really going on?

If you are a big Doctor Who fan it is worth the read. If you just want a thriller novel set in Britain then you might want to try The 39 Steps, or the Power-House instead, you'll most likely be disappointed with the action in this novel.
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