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All-Consuming Fire (novel)

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All-Consuming Fire
NA027 allconsumingfire
Adapted into: All-Consuming Fire
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

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.
  • Holmes and the Doctor have had lobster curry.

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

Libraries and archives Edit

Locations Edit

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

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

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 thereafter suggests quite the opposite. Evolution, for instance, strongly implies that Holmes and Watson are wholly fictional characters, created by Doyle, based on the Doctor and Doyle himself (although a prelude written suggests that Doyle, altering the characters slightly to protect their true identities, simply based some of the "fictional" Holmes' characteristics on the Doctor). While the Eleventh Doctor suggests that Holmes is fictional in The Snowmen, he may simply be responding to Walter Simeon's own belief that they are fictional when he himself knows otherwise.

External links Edit

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