Saturday, January 05, 2013

Should We Know Who the Enemy Was?

This is sort of "old business", and very Who-related, so I apologize in advance for those of you who come here for other things and don't care much about pre-Eccleston Who. But before there was the Time Wars that destroyed the Time Lords, there was the War. Same basic premise--the Time Lords were fighting a war against a time-active power just as powerful as they are, but with two key differences--one, the war occurred in the Doctor's personal future, starting the day he died as Gallifrey's enemies finally felt safe enough to move against them. The glimpses the Doctor got of the War (starting with 'Alien Bodies') were scenes from his own personal future, but simply knowing about it warped it and brought it ominously closer.

And two, which is more relevant here, the enemy wasn't the Daleks. In fact, the enemy's identity was never satisfactorily explained. Lawrence Miles, who wrote most of the significant novels in the War arc, intended them to be someone other than the Daleks, but the novel in which he finally intended to reveal their identity was never published. Instead, then-line editor Stephen Cole co-wrote a novel called 'The Ancestor Cell', where they were explained as a collection of technobabble from the dawn of time shortly before the War arc, and Gallifrey, were neatly excised from the line never to be mentioned again.

Lawrence Miles, in turn, went on to write a spin-off series in which the Time Lords and the War are carefully changed just enough that he can use his own concepts freely, called 'Faction Paradox'. In it, the enemy is simply known as The Enemy, with the details of their identity being described as "irrelevant".

As a fan of both Doctor Who and Faction Paradox, I'm not sure this was the right move. At this point, I think that the identity of the Enemy risks drifting gradually into irrelevance if not revealed, while revealing it might drum up useful publicity for a somewhat cult spin-off. I'd really like to see Lawrence Miles (ideally) write a book that explains who the Enemy was intended to be, or if that's not possible due to rights issues (it was hinted at as being an old foe of the Doctor's in some way, shape or form) at least get it out in an interview who it was originally intended to be so we finally can put the question to rest. However, I'll admit that part of my desire just stems from being a fan who hates unsolved mysteries, so I can't say I'm unbiased here. Anyone else remember the Enemy? And do those people want to see it come back and get finally answered? Feel free to make your thoughts known in the comments!


Tyler said...

Miles had such grandiose schemes for his ideas, like the suggestion he write a string of novels for the alternate incarnations spawned by the end of Interference.

That his own work described the Enemy identity as irrelevant makes me wonder if he decided himself, or changed his mind along the way.

Phil said...

I think Miles has said something along the lines of "When I started writing Alien Bodies I had no idea who the Enemy was and didn't much care, but by the end I'd more or less worked out what was going on."

I don't think the Enemy is so much depicted as "irrelevant" in the Faction Paradox material as it is deliberately kept hidden because that's much more interesting. There's various hints that they're either the future of the Great Houses, the future of humanity, or somehow descended from Faction Paradox.

Miles seems to have withdrawn from the Faction Paradox line even as it's undergoing something of a revival recently, so we may never know what he originally had planned for it.

There's a wonderful essay called "A Fractal History of the Time War" that tries to disentangle the various similar stories that Doctor Who was going through between 1996 and 2010, and comes to some gorgeously strange conclusions.

My personal theory is that the Enemy are something that sees events as narrative, as opposed to the Great Houses who sees them in terms of history; in Doctor Who terms, they're the Land of Fiction. They won their War, and then rewrote it all with the Time War, Time Lords and Daleks, because they thought it made for a better story.

Troff said...

The Enemy, it has been suspected, hail from Earth; and they're a "different history" or Universe.

Given that Lolita intends to become a SpaceTime (I haven't heard the last three audios yet), you could argue that Lolita - or Compassion - will be the Enemy.

Whether it was intended or not though, there's a much more plausible possibility - the Enemy is the BBC (or at least the BBC Who history).

Since "Ancestor Cell" ruined everything and the Faction spun off their own Universe, their history and Universe is similar but different to the Doctor's and the BBC. We all choose to resist or ignore the Enemy; the WhoGuide summary of the Book Of The War says the Enemy "try to play by the same physics".

Before TAC, Miles possibly considered HIMSELF the rogue, different, alternative History impinging on the Doctor's universe. But now that Davies undid all the Eighth Doctor stories and Moffat has gone insane and taken the Who universe with him... Now Miles's Faction universe is the "right" one and the BBC's is the Enemy.

I would love to know what Lawrence Miles thinks of this idea... But it's just an idea, nothing more.