GOTH OPERA by Paul Cornell, featuring the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa… or is it?!

“The age of humanity on this world has come to an end. The long night is starting. The age of the undead is upon us”.

First things first. You’ll be hearing more about this Who author. As my sickness devours me, certain authors keep returning to my mind. And the maddest, most menktastic, the utter fruitloopiest of the lot is none other than Mr Paul Cornell; the dude responsible for putting the Eighth Doctor into the Realm of the Faeries and turning one of the Doctor’s then companions into a half-woman, half-TARDIS whilst the Brigadier embarks on a post-traumatic ‘relationship’ with Queen Mab… but I’ll get onto that another time! This is one of his books in the Missing Adventures series, which really gives Cornell the chance to go absolutely head over heels in Gallifreyan history whilst still keeping a brisk place on the ‘current’ plot in 1994’s Manchester featuring the Time Lady restored Vampire Messiah and his followers… which happen to include a Trakenite by the name of Nyssa. LIEK OMG! Nyssa = vampz0r one one one!

We meet the Fifth Doctor playing cricket in Australia, where Nyssa is attacked by a demonic Child and Tegan fights off a 40s style Vampire called Jeremy by thrusting the works of Primo Levi at him. Having never read the sod I can only wonder if that in 2005’s London, having faith in the Seal of Rassilon would be enough to create a faith-based assault on the senses of a modern day Child of the Night but I digress – readers, methinks you should stick with the garlic shots. Whilst Nyssa is in the thrall of the Change and taken to Vampire Messiah Yarven’s lair, the Doctor and Tegan find Manchester in fear of the numbers of recent missing. Trying to track down Nyssa, they find the Yarven has teamed up with a Time Lady from the Doctor’s Prydonian academica, by the name of Ruath to plunge the world into eternal darkness/create world of vampires yadayda, I mean, we’ve all seen Buffy haven’t we? Vampire tropes are often disappointingly familiar, but the motives for such eternal darkness prove to be entirely different for the Vampire Messiah and his rescuer. Whilst Ruath is convinced she is changing the destiny of the Time Lords for the better, by fusing their already 98% vampire genetic material into 100% undead, that the Time Lords can again gain superiority over the universe and change their foreboding future, Yarven plans to take Gallifrey for himself, and make the Undead free to rule ALL SPACE AND TIME – wooooo!! WHO SHALL WIN EH READERS? Far be it from me to spoil the surprise. Yet I can exclusively reveal that an event happens in the end of the book, appearing to have no effect, but when the same thing happens in Planet of the Giants it has rather hem hem, SIZEABLE effects if you know what I mean, so beware if you’re some kind of continuity freakzone.

Yet, despite the presence of vampires and gothic castles etc, this book still feels a bit much; the ancient Gallifreyan vampire cults, the bow-ships of Rassilon and the epilogue featuring Romana reading the story of Omega and The Other* casting the Great Vampire out of all space and time are fabulous, but each time we follow Tegan casting around Manchester trying to feebly figure out what the Doctor figured out 20 minutes ago the story drags. A deliberate attempt to remain true to the televised Fifth and Tegan adventures, I wonder. But still, whilst the lacks the Gothic Horrors of Stephen Marley’s Managra, Goth Opera remains a rather good read, if you can bear the somewhat relentlessness of th33 VAMPz0r and get to the REALLY juicy bits.

8 bowships out of 10.

*who is TOTALLY the Doctor in his pre-incarnations IF YOU ASK ME!! Ka Faraq Gatri roxx0-rz!!!! And if you get THAT reference then you are SUCH A GEEK.