Saturday, 15 November 2008

Special Guest Synopsis

As promised, a special guest synopsis, courtesy of Jon Blum and Kate Orman.

About a week after I started writing The Eyeless – when I was sixty pages into the book - Justin emailed in the morning and said ‘how would you feel about putting Rose in it?’. That would have … altered the structure of the book somewhat. Almost before I’d had a chance to reply, Justin emailed again to say that he didn’t want Rose in it. Problem solved. Although, to be honest, while I told Justin that my concerns were purely artistic, this was basically a lie and my main problem was that I’d already written the beginning and wasn’t keen on rewriting because that would mean more work.

Such things happen, albeit rarely – Kate Orman and Jon Blum started the second EDA, Vampire Science thinking that Grace from the TV movie was in it. They then had to edit her out, when various licencing and editorial people decided against it.

Vampire Science: The Original Synopsis

This is the original synopsis for VS, before Grace had to be dropped from the novel. Her role in the story was divided between new companion Sam and Dr Carolyn McConnell.

Dr. Grace Holloway is one of those people the Doctor doesn't forget. He turns up on the odd occasion to take her to the opera in various centuries, and every year he shows up on her birthday to bring her breakfast in bed. Until, that is, the year when she leaves a note for him in the kitchen suggesting that he not wake up her new boyfriend.

The Doctor has also helped with getting Grace a position consulting for UNIT. When it doesn't conflict with her more ordinary hospital duties, they call her in as a medical advisor. This time, UNIT has her conduct a couple of unusual autopsies - for deaths which follow the classic patterns of vampire attacks.

Intrigued, she gets her new boyfriend James (a lighting designer at a prestigious uptown theatre) to do some additional investigation into the deaths. He's not entirely sure about all this risky cloak-and-dagger stuff - he's not used to being her legman, or rather her companion - but he cooperates.

Her own contacts lead her to a young doctor by the name of David Shackle, working at a downtown hospital, who knows about a whole series of similar cases of apparent vampire attacks. Thing is, all those happened to homeless people, lowlifes and bums of various sorts... Shackle's rather ticked off about the fact that all these cases have been ignored up till now, when "nice" people have started to die.

After swapping information with Dr Shackle, Grace goes back to the cafe where she was supposed to meet James, and waits for him.

And waits.

He doesn't show up. He's vanished, and she has no clue at all what's happened to him. Neither the police nor UNIT turn up any leads. Now she devotes all her energies into trying to find one man who's disappeared in the midst of a cityful of people, but to no avail. While she copes as best she can with trying to juggle all her work, she's coming apart at the seams.

So she contacts the Doctor. She feels a little awkward about involving him, not least because she's never actually told James about this other man in her life, and the Doctor feels similarly odd about it. But then, he's used to being the hero who doesn't get the girl - there's nothing really different about this time, is there?

He decides that, since James was probably kidnapped to send Grace a message - back off or else - their best course of action would be to press on with the investigation into the vampire deaths, so the kidnappers will get in touch with them. Grace is shocked by this approach - what if the kidnappers decide to simply kill James? - but she trusts the Doctor.

The Doctor, Grace, and Shackle continue their investigations, staking out the alleyways near a gothic bar/club which appears to be at the center of the "uptown" attacks. Shackle gets mugged. Once they get him away to safety, the Doctor and Grace are incredulous at his lack of regard for his own safety, and the stupid chances he took on the stakeout. Shackle, it becomes clear, really doesn't care much if he lives or dies - he's spent so much time swamped in his downtown hospital, surrounded by the trivial deaths of unnoticed people, that he doesn't really see much point in fighting to stay alive. He still has his idealism, but figures that all it'll get him is an eventual death from cholera while working in some squalid Third World charity hospital... where's the point in fighting it?

The Doctor's plans pay off when a man meets Grace in a cafe. "Slake", as he calls himself, is a lurid, self-consciously Gothic poseur, trying to act all menacing, threatening, and darkly sexy in an Anne Rice sort of way. Grace, of course, isn't buying any of it. Finally he gets to his point, giving Grace the ultimatum: back off, or he and his "brothers and sisters" will kill James and come for her. He shows her his fangs as a final touch.

The Doctor intervenes at this point. He very politely tells Slake that he's a Time Lord, a member of the race which wiped the vampires' kind off the face of the cosmos a few million years ago, the race which is sworn to destroy descendants of the Great Vampire anywhere they may find them, so could Slake kindly take his dreary little melodramatic self back to his masters and tell them to let James go? Because otherwise the Doctor will be most displeased with them. Slake tries to look unimpressed, but slinks away with his tail between his legs.

Meanwhile, Dr Shackle has been sending blood samples from victims off to one of the premier medical labs in the city for analysis, looking for some kind of common factor in the blood types. He goes there and meets the woman who's handling his samples, a rather dishevelled-looking post-graduate student named Joanna Harris. Harris seems attracted to Shackle's morbid-idealist persona, and he offers to bring her in on their investigations once they find out more.

Grace and the Doctor go back to the bar and continue to watch for signs of the vampires. Another vampire attempts to pick Grace up. This one's a particularly sociopathic one, who has lost the ability to distinguish between pleasure and pain, and who thinks that his victims suffer willingly. It takes the combined efforts of the Doctor and Grace to fight him off.

Slake reports back to his fellow vampires: a coven of fourteen, led by Joanna Harris. She's still the same unassuming, somewhat dumpy figure Shackle met - she's so used to being powerful that she doesn't need any of Slake's posturing. Her extreme age and experience - she's about as old as the Doctor - allow her to get away with being a vampire geek.

She's the only one of them who remembers the legends of the Time Lords, and figures that the Doctor needs to be handled very carefully. After a few withering comments in Slake's direction, she sends him back to arrange a meeting between her and the Doctor.

Slake delivers the message to Grace's home: the Doctor is to meet the vampires at an old abandoned theatre at midnight. Come alone, don't inform the police, et cetera et cetera. The Doctor has Grace drive him there, and leaves her with strict instructions before he goes in: if he doesn't walk out of this building by two AM, she's to set fire to it. Great, Grace says to his back as he strides inside... How?

As they await the Doctor's arrival, Slake tempts James with the possibility of becoming a vampire. James refuses - not out of a sense of any great nobility, but simply because he's not interested. He likes his life to be pretty much normal, thank you very much.

The Doctor arrives and offers Harris a deal - if the vampires let James go, and cease hunting humans, the Doctor won't destroy them, despite his oath as a Time Lord to do so. He knows that doing so would reopen the old war between their races, and he'd much rather try to take steps towards some kind of peaceful coexistence. Slake is scornful, but Harris tells him off. She says that if someone hadn't started breaking the rules of the cabal by hunting the Remembered, rather than derelicts who wouldn't be missed - not to mention gorging themselves on many more victims than they need to survive - they wouldn't have attracted this attention in the first place.

Harris dismisses all the other vampires and then gives her answer to the Doctor. She will try to control the feeding of the vampires, though she can't promise that they'll listen. She's already working on an alternative method of feeding, she says. In return, she demands to be bonded to the Doctor - an exchange of blood and a telepathic link between them. That way they can trust one another, because if one of them dies, so does the other one. To safeguard James, the Doctor agrees.

The weakened Doctor walks out of the theatre, leading James with him, much to Grace's joy. The Doctor assures her that his pact with Harris isn't going to turn him into a vampire - he's just getting occasional flashes of what she's experiencing. All appears to be under control.

But the next day, back at Grace's house, things begin to come apart at the seams. When Grace finds out that the Doctor let off a group of killers like the vampires with nothing more than a "don't do that again", she's shocked and furious - the Doctor's protests that he's trying to avoid restarting the Great War, and that Harris seems to be seriously trying to change the vampires' ways, mean nothing to her.

On top of this, James has a Long Talk with her... if she's going to be dealing with this insane world of vampires and extraterrestrials, he doesn't want any part of it. He leaves and tells her to call him when it's over, if it ever is...

And Dr Shackle meets again with Harris. Slowly but surely she's leading him to believe that everything he's devoted his life to - trying to hold back death - is hopeless. Death wins. And if you can't beat 'em... She offers him the choice to become one of them. He balks at the thought of killing, but she tells him that she's working on a method which could let the vampires feed without hunting the mortals. He won't be hurting anyone, the only one it affects is himself... She leaves him with her offer.

Shackle runs to Grace. She tries her best to persuade him back from the abyss, but he doesn't see much reason not to believe in Harris. He ends up going off, not sure what he's going to do, much to Grace's distress.

The Doctor again infuriates Grace by seeing Harris' side of the matter. These people are killers, Grace tells him, they hunt and eat humans! So do lions and tigers, counters the Doctor, but he doesn't see Grace campaigning for their extermination... Grace refuses to just sit back through all this, and she storms out on the Doctor.

She goes to the lab where Harris works and follows her - tracking her to a secret laboratory in which she and her fellow vampires have been working on their project. Grace discovers what they're growing in their nutrient vats... fully-formed humans, mindless zombies... experimental subjects. She rushes back to report to the Doctor.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has gone to James, to convince him not to run out on Grace. He tries to inspire him with tales of all the good he can do, and how well-suited he and Grace are for each other... like Grace's intervention with Shackle, though, this hasn't quite convinced James.

Shackle himself has given up and gone to Harris. He's ready. But she's not; she wants him to help her with her research first, and as a reward she'll turn him into a vampire. Slake overhears this, and offers Shackle a quick fix: he'll turn Shackle before Shackle changes his mind, in return for information about this Doctor...

Harris catches Grace snooping around the lab. She considers Grace's investigation an infringement on her agreement with the Doctor. For this she is going to kill Grace - making sure the Doctor can see this through their link. Across town with James, he can do nothing to stop her... except that the Doctor clambers out onto the ledge outside James' apartment, threatening to kill himself (and therefore Harris) unless she spares Grace. (James, who has no clue what's going on, is horrified.) Harris relents, and the Doctor, himself amazed by what he was about to do, asks James' help to get him back inside.

Harris is horrified that the Doctor would pervert a bonding - a symbol of trust - and use it as a weapon against her. In return for this, Harris kills someone just to make the Doctor experience it through her eyes. The Doctor, shaken and furious, goes to confront her. "How could you?" he demands. He's beginning to realize the mistake he's made in trying to do a deal with her.

The Doctor challenges her on her scheme, and realizes why she's growing humans - they're like veal, grown and fed in controlled circumstances to be a good meal for the vampires. Harris says this is a humane method; her synthetic humans are mindless, not self-aware, no more likely to feel pain than your average cow. But the Doctor demonstrates to her that she hasn't perfected it - these humans are dimly self-aware, and suffering. And then of course there are those vampires like Slake and his fellow uptown hunters, who won't be satisfied with killing domesticated humans, who love the hunt too much...

Shackle tells Slake about the link between the Doctor and Harris, which Harris has been keeping from the other vampires. Slake realizes that, if they can kill the Doctor, that will destroy Harris, and Slake will be free to lead the cabal... In return for his cooperation, Slake prepares to turn Shackle. To avoid any incriminating signs of Slake having fed on Shackle, the turning will be done by artificial means. Slake draws a syringeful of blood from himself and injects it into Shackle. There's no romance, no dark drama, none of the supposed sensuality of a vampire's kiss... just a cold, lethal injection.

Then Slake and his followers move against those loyal to Harris, killing them. Harris and the Doctor realizes that they both face a greater threat from Slake's bloodlust. They need a weapon against him... The Doctor and Grace leave Harris to continue working on the toxins while they go home.

James is waiting on Grace's doorstep, with roses and an apologetic look. He's sorry for the things he said, and he wants to try to help in any way he can. Grace's reaction is awkward, unsure. She's not feeling particularly close to either him or the Doctor at the moment.

James also has a message for the Doctor - Slake stopped by earlier. The Doctor is to meet him at the abandoned theatre tomorrow night. Of course it's a trap, the Doctor realizes - they want to kill Harris by killing him. He comes up with an idea, and he'll need both Grace's and James' help to pull it off.

During the day, James goes down to the theatre. The Doctor and Grace go back to Harris' lab and finish work on the anti-vampire toxins... the Doctor swallows a large dose himself.

That night, the Doctor and Grace arrive at the theatre. The first vampire to show himself is Shackle. Grace has a moment with him, just to ask him why. He shakes his head and asks, "What else was there to do?"

Slake and the others arrive and instantly move to attack the Doctor. The Doctor is aghast at this poor form on Slake's part - not even a half-hearted attempt at pretending he's interested in negotiating, not even pausing for a few melodramatic speeches, just going straight for the jugular. He waves his hand...

And James, up in the lighting control booth, powers up the lighting rig he's set up... a perfect simulation of full-bore sunlight, right down to the ultraviolet. It's not quite right to destroy the vamps, but it throws them off long enough for Grace and the others to escape.

Except for the Doctor. Enraged, Slake and his fellow vampires surround him and tear into him. The Doctor struggles for his life, but they're all sharing in his blood...

...and, as they realise too late, in the vampire-killing compounds he'd ingested. They're destroyed by their own bloodlust, and all would be well, if not for the fact that the Doctor himself is at death's door.

Harris, aware of the attack through their link, races to the theatre. She can't let the Doctor die - her solution is to turn him into a vampire. Grace refuses to let it happen, tries to get him medical help... but the Doctor waves her away. He's ready for this. Grace is horrified. She tells Harris, with cold conviction, "If you destroy what it is that makes him the Doctor, I will kill you." Grace shakes her head. She can hardly believe that she, a doctor, could find anything worth killing for. But it's true.

Harris just shrugs and crouches over the Doctor. The turning begins.

All sorts of cardiovascular hell breaks loose. The vampire-killing compounds in the Doctor's blood reject the infusion of vampire DNA, and in effect kick- start the Doctor's healing. In turn, his link with Harris causes the effects to bleed over to her, just as he'd planned. She'd assumed a taste of the anti-vamp formula wouldn't kill her, because she's so old and strong, and it doesn't... in fact, it heals her. It restores her humanity, severs the link with the Doctor, and turns her back into an ordinary mortal. Life wins.

Later, as the survivors all walk away together, Joanna Harris tries to figure out what to do now. Hell, maybe she'll just find another vampire and get them to bite her all over again. No, urges the Doctor. "Read a book, get married, go on a picnic, feed the ducks, do all the little things you humans do." Caring for the proto-humans she's grown would be a start. His words might actually be reaching her.

And James and Grace are becoming reconciled. Each has seen the other show strength and determination they'd never seen in them before... as well as compassion, when Grace mentions wanting to arrange a decent funeral for Shackle. After seeing her devotion to the Doctor, James is willing to step aside so that Grace and the Doctor can go off together... but Grace tells him that's not what she wants. The Doctor, after all, is half not human; James is right for her.

And the Doctor, healed, says farewell.

Shackle, the only one among the vampires who wouldn't drink the Doctor's blood, stands alone in the theatre. His one-time friends think he died with the others. He has no idea what to do now.

Outside, the sun is rising.

Copyright Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman, 1998. All rights reserved.

2 comments:

Iceduck said...

I still intend to read the EDAs (own a third of them, but not the first third regrettably), so I only read the start of these synopses ...

... but my, how exciting they are. Particularly interesting is how they're mirrored in new series material. Connections between Grace Holloway's life post-doctor and Martha Jones's are particularly interesting, considering that Grace's version only existed in this synopsis - getting a job with UNIT, going out with a doctor, getting regular visits from the Doctor ... Brilliant.

How interesting that The Eyeless could have featured Rose. I found the second batch of Tenth-Doctor-and-Rose books to be the ones that felt most like PDAs, since Rose left the series so decisively and seemingly with no chance of returning. How do you feel about the past-Doctor-new-Doctor split? I suppose NSAs are all more like PDAs than the EDAs, since they can't advance the story that far beyond what's on TV. Do you prefer one type to the other? Do you think it influences the way you write, or merely the types of story you tell?

I'm halfway through Gary Russell's Torchwood book, The Twilight Streets, which seems to be a detailed sequel to specific Torchwood episodes, and feels more like a New Adventure than a Past Adventure. You mentioned previously that you thought the NSAs could do with more internal continuity. How do you feel about these sorts of sequel-to-a-TV-story books?

Iceduck said...

I still intend to read the EDAs (own a third of them, but not the first third regrettably), so I only read the start of these synopses ...

... but my, how exciting they are. Particularly interesting is how they're mirrored in new series material. Connections between Grace Holloway's life post-doctor and Martha Jones's are particularly interesting, considering that Grace's version only existed in this synopsis - getting a job with UNIT, going out with a doctor, getting regular visits from the Doctor ... Brilliant.

How interesting that The Eyeless could have featured Rose. I found the second batch of Tenth-Doctor-and-Rose books to be the ones that felt most like PDAs, since Rose left the series so decisively and seemingly with no chance of returning. How do you feel about the past-Doctor-new-Doctor split? I suppose NSAs are all more like PDAs than the EDAs, since they can't advance the story that far beyond what's on TV. Do you prefer one type to the other? Do you think it influences the way you write, or merely the types of story you tell?

I'm halfway through Gary Russell's Torchwood book, The Twilight Streets, which seems to be a detailed sequel to specific Torchwood episodes, and feels more like a New Adventure than a Past Adventure. You mentioned previously that you thought the NSAs could do with more internal continuity. How do you feel about these sorts of sequel-to-a-TV-story books?