The Sleep of Reason
by Martin Day

Publisher: BBC
ISBN: 0 563 48620 1


    The near future: a man in a psychiatric hospital claims to be an alien time-traveller called 'the Doctor'. He once adventured across countless galaxies, fighting evil. The past: an asylum struggles to change Victorian attitudes to the mentally ill. It catches fire in mysterious circumstances. Now: a young woman takes an overdose and slips into a coma. She dreams of Death falling like a shroud over a benighted gothic building.


    Fitz and Trix.

    We don't see it, but the TARDIS is presumably in the Doctor's rented cottage before the book begins.

    Pg 95 In the Doctor's rented cottage, on the grounds of the Retreat, England, presumably 2004.


    Pg 51 "He looked about him, trying to strip back the veneer of progress to the Victorian shell beneath." Reminiscent of the "Scratch the Victorian veneer..." line from Ghost Light.

    Pg 192 "'I am medically trained,' continued Smith." The Moonbase.

    Pg 227 "When I say run..." Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, this is the only line of explicit continuity in both this book and The Burning.


    Caroline 'Laska' Darnell, Liz Bartholomew, Joe Bartholomew, Susannah, James Abel, Dr Thompson, Dr Oldfield.


    • Pg 61 "She wished he didn't have to leave that like - guiltily, like a criminal." Huh? Surely, this should be "leave like that"?

    PLUGGING THE HOLES [Fan-wank theorizing of how to fix continuity cock-ups]

    • Laska's just woken up, so she's muddling her words.

    Pg 247 The Sholem-Luz, creatures who can possess animals and humans and use dead bodies as part of their birthing cycle. They resemble a cross between a spider and a centaur, with pale grey skin, eyes like orbs, many-jointed legs and humanoid torso.

    Pg 1 The Retreat (many miles from London, page 76), the near future (as the back cover states).

    Pg 4 London, probably, a year earlier (as page 276 reveals) than the main action, placing it probably in 2003.

    Pg 14 The Retreat, presumably 2004 (page 273 says 1903 is "a hundred or so" years ago).

    Pg 22 Mausolus House (the former name for the Retreat), as well as the nearby church and surroundings, December 1903.

    Pg 262 Mausolus House, May 1904.

    IN SUMMARY - Robert Smith?
    The plot isn't terribly exciting (although the Doctor turns out to have been slightly involved in the 1903 action, the threat was basically dealt with by local people setting fire to things, so the current version is not exactly a problem desperately crying out for the Doctor), the setting is frustratingly unclear (where is the Retreat? When is the main action set? Where is Laska's house?), the opening hook is goofy (and forces the plot to do silly things in order to justify something that probably should have been cut anyway), the revelation of the traitor turns out to be one of the least subtle moments in the history of Doctor Who (and, frustratingly, could so easily have been fixed with a minor tweak) and giving two important characters extremely similar names (Laska and Liz are hard to distinguish on the page, forcing the reader to back up continually) is almost criminal. Oh, and the TARDIS crew barely appear and when they do it's clear that neither Fitz nor Trix have anything whatsoever to contribute. But none of that matters a whit, because this book is stupendously good. The characterisation is so real it hurts and you cannot help but be drawn into the thoughts, fears and hopes of these people, who are brought to life so vividly it's amazing. Oh, and it achieves the exceedingly rare feat of actually managing to be scary, even though you know it's going to turn out to be aliens all along (and does, without even trying to subvert its own cliche, dismissing any attempt at complexity with a disinterested handwave). Despite all its problems, this is a fantastic read. Shame about the ham-fisted, amateurish attempt at glowing eyes on the cover, though.