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All-Consuming Fire (novel)

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All-Consuming Fire
NA027 allconsumingfire
Doctor: Seventh Doctor
Companion(s): Ace, Benny
Featuring: First Doctor, Susan
Main enemy: Azathoth, Baron Maupertuis, Sherringford Holmes
Main setting:
Key crew
Publisher: Virgin Books
Writer: Andy Lane
Release details
Release number: 27
Release date: 16 June 1994
Format: Paperback Book; 21 Chapters, 305 Pages
ISBN 0-426-20415-8
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All-Consuming Fire was a 1994 entry in the New Adventures range of Doctor Who novels. It featured the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Benny in an adventure with the real-life "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr John Watson".

It was notable for its unusual structure.

At the beginning of the novel, the Doctor gives Benny a copy of All-Consuming Fire by Arthur Conan Doyle, which she duly reads. This sets up a "book-within-a-book", in which the reader is meant to believe that there's an Andy Lane-written prologue and epilogue wrapped around a Conan Doyle novel — itself written from the perspective of "John Watson". In the epilogue, Benny pronounces that Conan Doyle changed "a lot of the facts", meaning that Conan Doyle (or, possibly "Watson") is an unreliable narrator. The main characters seem to agree that Conan Doyle's version is basically true. However, Benny's revelation that she doesn't "remember half of these things happening" makes it difficult to know which details actually occurred within the Doctor Who universe, and which are embellishments by Conan Doyle.

Lane occasionally gives us other points of view, such as when he quotes from Benny's diary. These moments, too, are instances where limited perspective leads to unreliable narration. Indeed, it's not terribly clear whether these moments of taking from other diaries are meant to be Lane interjecting into the Conan Doyle book, or whether it's actually Conan Doyle himself mixing in a bit of Benny's voice into his book.

In any event, All-Consuming Fire — quite unusually for a Doctor Who novel — features a book within a book, told mostly in the first person from the perspective of secondary characters.

Publisher's summary Edit

"I've been all over the universe with you, Doctor, and Earth in the nineteenth century is the most alien place I've ever seen."

England, 1887. The secret library of St John the Beheaded has been robbed. The thief has taken forbidden books which tell of mythical beasts and gateways to other worlds. Only one team can be trusted to solve the crime: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

As their investigation leads them to the dark underside of Victorian London, Holmes and Watson soon realise that someone else is following the same trail. Someone who has the power to kill with a glance. And they sense a strange, inhuman shape observing them from the shadows. Then they meet the mysterious traveller known only as the Doctor -- the last person alive to read the stolen books.

While Bernice waits in nineteenth-century India, Ace is trapped on a bizarre alien world. And the Doctor finds himself unwillingly united with England's greatest consulting detective.

Characters Edit

References Edit

Books Edit

Buildings Edit

Cultural references from the real world Edit

  • Ace calls the Doctor "Kolchak the bleeding Nightstalker".

The Doctor Edit

Cults Edit

Foods and beverages Edit

  • The Doctor drinks sarsaparilla, and notices the smell of strychnine used to ferment the beer Watson drinks.
  • Whilst dining on the train in India Sherlock and Bernice drink weak whiskey while Watson drinks a gin and tonic.
  • Mrs Hudson serves the Doctor tea and Madeira cake at Holmes' residence.
  • Whilst on Ry'leh Watson eats some sort of native creature, which does not sit well for him.

Governments Edit

Groups Edit

  • The Third Doctor frequents the Diogenes Club.
  • The Seventh Doctor gets his third self kicked out of the Diogenes Club by showing him the answer to the crossword he was doing, making the Third Doctor shout at him, breaking the silence rules.

History Edit

Individuals Edit

  • The First Doctor and Susan make a brief appearance at the beginning and end of the story. He meets Sherlock's father Siger Holmes in Jaballhabad, India.
  • Bernice dresses as a man for all of her time in 19th century Earth to avoid being treated as a "woman".
  • Bernice sees John Watson naked.
  • Bernice can speak Sontaran.
  • This is the first instance where it is suggested Ace lost her virginity to Sabalom Glitz.
  • Sherlock attempts to analyse the Doctor, only for the Doctor to take extreme pleasure in proving him wrong.
  • Sherlock bludgeons his brother Sherringford to save Watson.
  • The Doctor considers Watson more of a survivor and more flexible mentally then Holmes who is a only as intelligent as his knowledge of his surroundings.
  • Watson becomes attracted to Benny.
  • Sherringford Holmes is the eldest Holmes brother.
  • Bernice went once to a seminar on Felophitacitel Major where a Draconian lecturer had a theory that different cults around the universe were all worshipping the same gods.

Libraries and archives Edit

Locations Edit

  • Bernice comments that 19th century India is the most alien place she has been.
  • Watson adapts to conditions on Ry'leh by comparing them to events in his career as a field surgeon.

Organisations Edit

Planets Edit

  • The planet Tersurus has clone banks and singing stones.
  • The Doctor still has clay and dust on his pants from Menaxus.
  • Bernice loved in the slums of Avernus and a squat on Zellen VIII.
  • The Doctor dropped Ace early on Ry'leh to investigate.
  • Bernice thinks Ry'leh is stranger than Moloch (Lucifer's hollow moon).
  • Both Eusapia and Zeta Minor are half in this and another universe.
  • The crust of Magla is a shell covering a vast dreaming creature.

Species Edit

Supposed deities Edit

  • Azathoth is a god of anarchy and chaos and is the weakest of the Great Old Ones.
  • Sherringford Holmes is an agent of Azathoth.

Theories and concepts Edit

  • The Doctor does not believe in spontaneous human combustion, but will argue in favour of it to force open Watson's mind on more esoteric matters beyond his knowledge.

Time Lords Edit

Vehicles Edit

  • The journey to India and back is made aboard the SS Matilda Briggs. This, and the fact that the Doctor and his friends fight against a giant rat, allows the story to slot in fairly well to a spot within the Sherlock Holmes canon.
  • Bernice describes a tikka-ghari.

Weapons Edit

  • Ace has a gun that can be disassembled.
  • Most of Ace's smart missiles deserted her on Peladon to set up a union with the mining machinery.
  • The Doctor grumbles something about Z-Bombs when Bernice and Watson are having a conversation about weapons that were supposedly going to "end wars".

Writers Edit

  • Arthur Conan Doyle edits Watson's diaries (changing a few things here and there) and publishes them as fiction.

Notes Edit

  • This novel is written from the point of view from Watson and Benny's diaries.
  • It is one of the few New Adventures releases to include illustrations.
  • According to Andy Lane, Peter Darvill-Evans had told Lane that Holmes and Watson were going to be the new companions in the New Adventures book range. Said Lane, "Even when I finished the book it was still on the cards - hence the ambiguous ending." (DWM 252)
  • A prelude to this novel was published in DWM 213.

Continuity Edit

It is difficult to know how much of the book to take as a genuine account of things which actually happened to the Doctor and his companions, since Benny outright says that the book was a heavily fictionalised version of events. Nevertheless, the prologue and epilogue are certainly meant to be read as the "reality" of the DWU. And the basic outlines of the plot are confirmed as generally having happened. Detail within the bulk of the novel should, however be treated with a great deal more suspicion. That said, some things said in the novel can be found in other stories:

Holmes and Watson in the DWU Edit

This novel portrays "Holmes" and "Watson" as the fictional names for non-fictional people. Benny is cut off several times right before she announces the actual names of "Holmes" and "Watson".

This notion that they are real people is confirmed in PROSE: Happy Endings, when the duo show up for Benny's wedding. Later she even meets "Mycroft Holmes" (AUDIO: The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel)

However, almost every story written hereafter suggests quite the opposite. Evolution, for instance, implies strongly that Holmes and Watson are wholly fictional characters, created by Doyle, based on the Doctor and Doyle himself. And the Eleventh Doctor suggests the fictionality of Holmes in The Snowmen.

Behind the scenes Edit

  • In the acknowledgements for PROSE: The Empire of Glass, Lane notes that this was his own version of Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates.
  • There is an reference to a Baron Maupertuis, one of the villains of this story, in the Sherlock Holems novel "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire", in which Watson mentions an unrecorded case called "the colossal schemes of Baron Maupertuis". The Maupertuis in this story could be the same one mentioned there, as the two universes are meant to share the same universe.

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