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Readalong: Interference Part 1

Sorry, missed another month. But now we're back and with one of the most interesting and controversial novels of the line.

This month's featured book:
'Interference Part 1' by Lawrence Miles


(Just to remind you, the readlong featured book is one that has been widely approved of, and is the book you should read if you only have the time or inclination to read one EDA this month).

'Interference' Book 1 is the 25th EDA, and it's another one from Lawrence 'game changing ideas' Miles. So many things that will continue to be important to the EDA universe are established in this book (did someone say 'Time War'?), and things that have been important previously are picked up and given a new importance. This is also an important book as far as companions, since we meet Compassion for the first time in this book and I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say (since it's everywhere) that we loose Sam. I think the change over is actually done quite well. And as for Fitz - well. A word of warning - forget everything you think you know about Compassion, otherwise you will be very confused about what she's doing here. 'Interference' also features the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane (last seen in 'Alien Bodies').

Please put spoilery comments behind lj-spoiler cuts or white-out the text below an indication of where you are in the book. And please comment and discuss if possible!
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Comments

Goodness me, Interference! I read that, like, four years ago; I should do so again, as (despite my general distaste for Lawrence Miles as a human being), I recall loving it.
yes! i think it's great. or rather... i think parts of it are great, and part of it introduce really really interesting things and then it doesn't do the emotional wallop at all right. but it's very very interesting, all of it.

look at your lovely fitz icon! i like it very much.
IDK I just finished pt 2 and a certain conversation at the end (you can guess the one) walloped the hell out of me--

but yeah pt 1 was pretty weak in that respect.
Question -- are we doing Interference 2 next month and Blue Angel in May, or is it the second book this month and Blue Angel's next month? I'll use spoiler-cuts either way, but if it's the former I'll have to try and separate my thoughts on part 1 from part 2 (which I'm about 60% through).
interference 2 next month. i thought about combining them, because there was no 'extra book that most people say is a bit rubbish' this month. plus, as you say, it's difficult to talk about one without the other really...

but then i didn't, because i do want people to have time to red both of them. because interference is great (i think)(with some qualifications).
Gotcha! If I have to talk about pt 2 I'll do so under a separate spoiler cut, then. Should have my comments up in a few days -- still in wrist splints so I need to space the typing out!
Whoops, I really need to stop saying I'll comment soon and then, not comment. In my defense: wrists! (Somewhat better now.)

[Spoiler (click to open)]So, it's hard to talk about what Team TARDIS 8.0 went through in this book because they spent quite a lot of it in and out and in limbo again -- considering that, it's impressive how much forward momentum the narrative had, at least until the Dust section brought everything to a screeeeeching halt. Recognizing that EDA Doctor is way more chill about separating from his companions than most other relatively modern versions of the character, and even taking into account his imprisonment, it's still hilarious in a horrible way how easily everyone just... forgot about Fitz. POOR FITZ, ALL MY CREYS, more on that next time.

Miles' writing continues to have the same strengths (high concept cornucopia) and weaknesses (weird pacing) as Alien Bodies, though he had a lot more room to give each idea the play it needed. I will say that, three Faction Paradox stories in, I've come to really, really like their general concept, but I'm not all that interested in reading the spin-off novels. It's half "some ideas are too good to risk overdeveloping," half "Miles doesn't have the chops to write about the bit I find most intriguing." The Faction Paradox as the deliberately racialized, colonized Other as set against the Time Lords' stuffy white Britishness (even the comparatively freewheeling Doctor is basically White British Tourist Man... IN SPACE!) -- it's an idea with a lot of punch, but one that Miles (uncharacteristically?) pulls in part 2. Granted, considering the whole Saudi Arabia thread, or Cousin Scary Dark Man in Bodies, that's probably for the best, but the end result is cultural appropriation that's slightly more self-aware than the usual.

(Even Orman and Blum, who earned massive points from me as a biracial person for this monologue, couldn't really make the political aspects of Faction Paradox work -- viz. unfortunate implications of the Doctor haranguing a little boy from the barrio, even a really annoying one with time tricks up his sleeve.)

I have an admitted weakness where metafiction is concerned, so all those bits were right up my alley and IMO much more successful on the self-awareness front. In a way Sam seems eminently suited to that kind of storytelling. Her journey has been so fraught with behind-the-scenes confusion in contrast to her being, on paper, an assertive personality. The Doctor's characterization isn't always consistent, but it's anchored by our and the writers' memories of McGann's performance; Fitz is a sidekick in the process of upgrading to main character, and sidekicks have the advantage in getting a defined characterization through their defined role, even when in the hands of mediocre/directionless writing teams. But Sam comes most alive at the intersection where the ambiguity of character collides with the ambiguity of narrative. She'll never be one of my favorite companions, but I'm glad she gets to go out strong, at least.

Speaking of companions, since RTD/Sladen's take on post-Doctor Sarah Jane is My Sarah Jane (whereas I don't have a My Doctor, hmm), I wasn't entirely satisfied with Miles' version. But I did appreciate that she didn't put her emotional life on hold for the Doctor.

I guessed who the oldest of the Remote on Dust was immediately, but I'm not sure I would have if I hadn't already known vague details about part 2 before I even started reading the EDAs.


Edited at 2014-04-01 12:44 am (UTC)
this is a very good comment, too. my shame is doubled.

[Spoiler (click to open)]FITZ OMG YES, but the doctor hasn't forgotten him - he just doesn't want to think about it. i actually think the DOCTOR's reaction to what happens to fitz is done quite well (i am assuming you have read all the end of part 2 now) where he's so hopeful that they won't have to talk about it, and fitz is like... well, it would be awkward to make him, so :( but the actual fitz saddness... is one of my least favourite parts. because two of the worst things that could ever happen to fitz happen in this book, and i sort of feeling nothing about them apart from 'well, some better writers will handle this trauma better later'. which is not to say that miles isn't a good wirter, because he is one of the best EDA writers by miles (as it were), but he is rubbish at emotional depth. i think way more than pacing, although i agree that his pacing can definitely drag. but it's just like - WE SHOULD CARE SO MUCH. and i just didn't.

moving on - did we talk about the faction paradox last time? or any of the other times? i don't remember. i... really dislike them. i'm so bored by them. it seems like something i would like (i am also weak for metafiction, and i feel they are sort of that to an extent - i think you sort of imply this), and i like silly overcomplicated time travel business - it's one of the reasons i like doctor who, as opposed to just sci fi, and they're like time lords, but (and i think the books even bring this up) they're so.... childish and pointless. it's like the torchwood of time lords. OOOH VOODOO CEREMONIES AHAHA WE ARE REBELLING AGAINST THE TIME LORDS and we have to spend so long on miles's pet project, ooooh grandfather paradox, and i'm just like - get over yourselves, please. you're petty and stupid, and not boring in a fun way like really boring time lords. just... like annoying religious fanatics.

so - although i'd be interested in reading more from lawrence miles - i haven't sought out the faction paradox stuff. because... it would be about the faction.

sidekicks have the advantage in getting a defined characterization through their defined role, even when in the hands of mediocre/directionless writing teams.

this is just a good point in general.

i also think it would be interesting to have more work done on... how much fitz works as a book companion. and how the book companions are formed and stuff. because i think he is excellent. firstly, i just like him, but also - he's so human and awful - kind of exagerated, but also he's really good at empathy and he also all these moments of sadness and disatisfaction. he also has a very distinctive written voice (which i guess comes from this sidekick business a bit). and with this tragedy, and SPOILER.... he also has a lot of baggage to deal with that just keeps him ticking over as a character for about 20 books. i know there has been some meta about the EDAs and stuff, but there should be more! there's quite a bit about benny now, but she has her own audio series and book series.

re - sarah jane: i don't think she's bad.... and i like that she's important in the plot, becuase it makes sense of the random scenes with three in 'alien bodies' and also here (why is the third doctor suddenly in these books? is it just becuase you like that era best? it is, isn't it?) and i like that she takes to sam etc etc, because it's sort of a mark of approval from the canon..... and manages not to be annoying about it. but i also remember distinctly a bit where the narrative said she had a plump face. which was weird. and, yes, ultimately she didn't do ALL that much. but then ther's a lot going on in this book. nobody does all that much.

also - i wish the IM foreman scenes at the beginning had been cut. but if we start talking about things that should have been cut from interference (which is, as a whole, spectacularly interesting. probably the most interesting EDA there is - there is just so much to talk about it with it) then we'll be here all year ;)

blue angel next, which is blooming weird. and then some great books that are my favourites!
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