Sunday, 25 January 2009

Doctor Who: Who Killed Kennedy

Ever since I saw the file JFK back as a kid I've always had a fascination with the assassination of JFK. Of course as I've read more on the subject I've come to realised that Oliver Stone's version of events is even more off target that the Warren Commissions (albeit that JFK remains a gripping film). As such this was an interesting title to me back when it was released in 1996.

The conceit of the book is to mythologise the Pertwee era (specifically Spearhead from Space up to the aftermath of Day of the Daleks) into an X-Files style conspiracy story.

The story is told from the perspective of James Stevens, a Kiwi journalist, as he investigates UNIT and department C19. At the time this was the first attempt at showing the world of the Doctor from an outsiders perspective. This has regularly become more common with, for example, the works of Kate Orman and Jon Blum (Blue Box and The Fearmonger spring to mind) and even the new series itself (Love & Monsters). The book is also clearly influenced by the X-Files as UNIT and, in particular, C19 are presented as basically being the bad guys. Covert organisations pulling the strings and covering up the truth. This is achieved by virtue of the fact that Steven's sees events from a distance, not being aware of all of the facts and without the cosy "Brigs Army" feel of the show itself.

The use of C19 (previously referenced in Time Flight) is particularly important to ramping up the mood of the book. It allows the nastier stuff to be kept away from UNIT, thereby lending a credibility to the paranoia that would not otherwise be present (since the reader already knows the real truth of the UNIT activities referenced in the book).

I've just finished rereading the book and I must say it holds up remarkably well. The Kennedy stuff is, by the author's own admission, a gimmick of the publishers and up to a couple of years ago it might have felt dated with its very 90s era feel about it. But at this point it is not so much dated as nostalgic. It also still stands as the first full length effort at doing a Who story from an outsiders perspective.

Happily the book can also be accessed online at this URL:

those with a fondness for the 3rd Doctor's era, or conspiracy stories in general, would do well to check it out.

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