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By Paul Magrs

Book review by Brad Schmidt

Pantomime and farce are certainly not new genre in Who fiction with Cornell's Oh No It Isn't! being a perfect example. Paul Magrs' Verdigris — an utter mish-mash of characters, times and places — is another in this vein. As such, hilarity ensues...

The vulgar cover is suddenly fabulous after reading the story, which is at home in the Pertwee years. Plastic daffodils would be far more at home in this story. From fictional characters crashing through the atmosphere to robot sheep attacking UNIT HQ, with the Master leading a group of amusingly-clad Children of Destiny and Iris Wildthyme disrupting the Doctor and Jo's holiday, the slim tome becomes increasingly difficult to understand, as each new event pushes aside the last. David Bowie would compose the perfect soundtrack.

Despite being utterly fabulous and compelling, it's hard to tell really what the point is. The lead villain Verdigris — a walking metanarrative device? — admits that he is intruding on an established past, so it's not even really a “missing adventure”, because it was never meant to happen. As such, it neglects to indicate on its trippy back cover where in the Who chronology it takes place. Iris, too, is almost the embodiment of writing technique. Suddenly eating a banana in a brief passage of text couldn't be more incongruous unless a neon sign was attached to the page; upon finishing she keeps the banana skin so that someone wouldn't fall on it. It's cleverly self-referential in a deliberate way. But still pointless. Any student of English would have a field-day with Magrs' work, and with none more so than Verdigris.

Despite the frequent allusions to classic literature, Magrs' also shows his adoration of Doctor Who. Accusing Jo for over-reacting so often she misses vital clues is perfectly justified, and the driver of a taxi taking her to the top-secret UNIT HQ is a sly nod to the ludicrous notion in The Three Doctors that the building would be signposted. The Doctor seems more Jon Pertwee than Time Lord, and as per usual Iris is the star of the novel. A novel perfect to read again, with more thematic layers than pages. [5/5]

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).

Index nodes: Verdigris