Friday, January 22, 2016

Conundrum by: Steve Lyons: Into the Woods You Have to Go

Once upon a time there was a Doctor Who fan, and this Doctor Who fan had one of his earliest classic serials be the Patrick Troughton story The Mind Robber.  The Mind Robber quickly became one of the stories he would return to as it was a fanciful dive into another dimension where every fictional character was real and reality could be altered by the uttering of words and the power of the mind.  And over this land ruled its Master, a human as humans create the best stories and he was eventually set free by the brave Doctor and his companions never to return to that land.  The End, or so he thought as on a cold winter’s night that fan opened a book starring the good Doctor and two companions this time five incarnations after the initial visit that returned to this Land with new companions to face the stories a second time, but this time everything was changed.


This mystical land was now under new management from a human child who knows how to write stories and acting as the fan’s narrator through the story, as events were manipulated in what the fan thought was a unique twist on the standard third-person narrative.  The masterful scribe of this story put it in with perfect aplomb the fan discussed as he progressed through the pages, holding on to every word that the master scribe Steve Lyons placed on the pages of the shortened novel.  Master Lyons was dutiful in allowing for the comedy in the Land as the absurdities of this new Master of the Land takes out his largest words in fight against the good Doctor and the empowered Dorothy and the cynical Bernice as they investigate the murders committed in the snowy and quaint village of Arandale.  Master Lyons worked his hardest on crafting the masterful mystery to keep the novel moving and of course the good Doctor succeeds in the end and the Doctor Who fan had been satisfied.  The End.


Ok, I’m going back to normal prose as I can’t integrate everything I’d like to say without having to break the fourth wall several more times.  So as the tale that opened this review I am a big fan of the story The Mind Robber and when I heard that Conundrum was a sequel to The Mind Robber, I was slightly apprehensive.  As I haven’t heard anything about Steve Lyons as this is his debut novel I was a bit apprehensive as how this story would go over.  Again in the tale that opened the review I admit I was wrong in my apprehension as Conundrum is one of the best Virgin New Adventures and continues the streak of high quality.  The story that the Master of the Land of Fiction has concocted for the Doctor to solve is great at revealing enough and not enough to keep it going strong as you question exactly how much you are missing.  This is considering that Lyons has the Master withhold pieces of information from the reader just enough so that you can figure out what the Doctor already knows.  The plot is very comic book like as there is a superhero powered by a radiation which is basically magic who has to defeat his arch-nemesis aptly called Doctor Nemesis who is evil for evil’s sake.  These characters are obvious pastiches of the Batman television series with Adam West smashed together with an evil vampire-like murder mystery.  Of course it isn’t vampires as they already exist in the Doctor Who Universe.


What Lyons gets down best are the characters of Ace and Benny as they both have to figure out where they are as they interact with the fictional characters.  This is especially great as you get some intentionally forgettable characters as Lyons refuses to describe them in any detail and Ace and Benny fill in the details.  This allows for some great comedy as the Doctor reveals how they don’t know many people here.  I also feel that Lyons was thorough in connecting the story down to the arc as we are left with clues to who is behind the manipulation and who led the TARDIS back into the Land of Fiction.  Honestly this book is nearly perfect with no real flaws that I can see.  100/100

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