The Scales of Injustice
So Vile a Sin
Beyond the Sun
|ISBN#||0 426 20497 2|
|Synopsis: Benny and Jason discover married life isn't as solid as they'd hoped. Trying to prevent a terrible catastrophe, they contact the Doctor and Chris, but discover the hard way that the road to hell is paved with good intentions...|
A Review by Sean Gaffney 22/9/99
I was looking forward to EW, despite the fact that I really didn't like Parasite. I was hoping it would be more like Blood Heat, which I enjoyed tremendously.
Well, it was like Blood Heat in its portrayal of Bernice. Unfortunately, that was the one thing I didn't like about Blood Heat. And the ending and sheer hopelessness of it all were very reminiscent of Parasite, which is also not a good thing. Some of the writing, however, rose to the levels of Lucifer Rising, which is excellent. Basically, this book does wonders for a schizophrenic, as I have opinions bouncing back and forth.
PLOT: Actually, pretty damn good. Sort of a cross between The Ten Commandments, Die Hard, and King Lear. The plot skips along, letting you bask in the doom and destruction. No problems here.
THE DOCTOR: N/A.
THE DOCTOR: Oh, all right. Virtually absent, and when he is there, he seems to have retreated from the more human Doctor we saw in Bad Therapy. This characterization would fit right into the Alternate Universe cycle - not a good thing. You'd swear Cartmel wrote him.
BERNICE AND JASON: I kept hoping against hope that this was the evil Benny and Jason from Witch Mark, then I remembered there's no such thing. Words cannot describe how annoyed I was at Benny's characterization. Jim has done what no other NA author has succeeded in doing - making me dislike her. And Jason isn't much better. I realize that a point was being made, but using characters to make points is always dangerous ground.
CHRIS: Has apparently gone into deep catalytic shock about Roz, something Bad Therapy was supposed to take care of. Stands around, acts befuddled, does what he's told...bleah.
LIZ SHAW: Cannon fodder. Was there any reason for Liz to be the scientist, except to make us care more when she died? It didn't work, I was beyond caring when Liz dissolved. What a pointless cameo, intended to have yet another companion meet a bad end.
OTHERS: Also cannon fodder. The plot really takes the ball and runs with it, and the auxiliaries are interchangeable. Candy, the only really likeable 3-D character, got killed off first. *sigh*...
VILLAIN: Tammuz, I guess. Pathetic. The Astronomer Royal doesn't really count.
STYLE: Speaking of which, take Chapter 10 and put it on your walls. The main reason I'm in two minds about this book is that some of the writing is just gorgeous. Lyrical, moving, even a few jokes or two. EW really shows Jim's talents at the craft. And the Astronomer Royal's lines had me rolling on the floor. Made the book worthwhile.
OVERALL: Jeez. I loved the writing. I hated the characterization. The plot was great. The ending bit. And why does Jim always have to kill everyone? What did they do to him? I'm tempted to skip a number grade, as I really am torn between grudgingly liking and really despising this book. But, go with tradition, if only to bug certain people...
A Review by Finn Clark 5/4/03
SPOILERS... but they don't matter. Nothing matters.
Oh my God. That's your first reaction when you read this. Eternity Weeps seems like an unimaginable chain reaction of catastrophe; "tragedy" is too small a word.
And then you read it again and you realise it's a comedy.
I dunno. Maybe only a sick puppy (like me) could agree with Jim Mortimore on this. He had a pretty fucked up year (see the book's dedication for only the start of it), he had to rewrite the plot synopsis so often that his ears were bleeding, he stopped halfway through and wrote another book... well, by the time he came back to Eternity Weeps, Jim was in an odd state. In the man's own words:
"So I really had to sort of indulge myself and be funny again, but I had to be more blackly funny. I felt it was trying to be a bit, excuse me for being pretensions, a bit Tarantino-esque. So I pointed out the humour and I pointed out the drama by making things too funny, stupidly funny and stupidly violent, in the hope it would come out a bit Tarantino-esque, now whether I hit the mark or not I don't know. I think maybe stabbing people in the eye and killing them with a paint brush is a bit over the top, but there you go. Sometimes it happens in real life, not very often I'll grant you."On first exposure to Eternity Weeps, the shock factor is overwhelming. It's not just that Liz Shaw dies... but she dies offstage! (You think I'm joking? It's not until The Room With No Doors that we discover she received a mercy killing from Imorkal.) That wasn't necessarily a smart move from Mortimore, since something like that will always loom disproportionately large in fan perceptions.
"So basically the thought behind Eternity Weeps was I want to do a nasty, nasty story, but I want to make it really funny as well, I want people to laugh while they're crying. It's a bit of an experiment just to see whether I could do it. So far I've got dreadfully mixed responses which has been wonderful, I love getting mixed responses. Craig Hinton, who reviewed it in TV Zone, basically reviled it as a pile of dino doodoo with no worth more than a crush insect on the sidewalk. Everybody that has actually written to me about it has actually said that it was brilliant, they read it in a day, it was great, the characterisation was really well handled, the marriage break up between Benny and Jason was really well handled, very easy to identify with. I mean it ought to be I've been through that situation."
But second time around, you realise that it's constructed like a farce. Comedy is basically tragedy that we know will end happily... but this is a farce that ends more horrifically than anyone could possibly imagine. Jim tries to warn us with a two-page prologue, but nothing will prepare you. This is a book that must be reread for the full experience. The escalation of horrors is so awesome that it's almost beautiful. Benny is rock-bothering as usual in Turkey when the carnage begins out of nowhere, but that's only the beginning. Admittedly the black comedy only becomes obvious on p177 ("What To Do If You Think You Are Infected") but I don't think we'll ever see anything else like this in Doctor Who. The good Doctor's adventures are normally too humanistic. This is the product of a twisted mentality, the nearest we'll probably ever come to Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.
Benny and Jason are ridiculously dysfunctional. Admittedly this is their break-up book, but even so Jim goes beyond the call of duty. Jason is a loser and a liability, often bursting into tears and guaranteed to fuck up any situation he's involved in, but it's all build-up for the scene where through sheer idiocy he brings doom to two civilisations. If you're into the book's black farce mentality it's hilarious.
The Doctor barely appears. As in "not at all in the first hundred pages, and only twice in the next hundred." But he gets some impressive build-up and he's memorable enough that you almost don't notice. This is effectively a rehearsal for the Benny books and as such it works fine. (Though it could be argued that given the magnitude of the events in Eternity Weeps, the Doctor's lying down on the job.)
Random observation: when taking a busman's holiday in Turkey, Benny finds herself toe-to-toe with "half the Iraqi army" (p9) in a war-related adventure that involves weapons of mass destruction and the death of ten per cent of the world's population. In a book set in 2003. Jim Mortimore = scary prophet of Who-dom.
This is an extraordinary book. Back in 1997 we didn't realise just how extraordinary. Some books can be summed up by their Rankings scores, but this ain't one of 'em. Absolutely unbelievable. Mortimore is a god. (And believe it or not this is the restrained version; Virgin made Jim cut out the bit with the sheep.)
A Review by Andrew McCaffery 9/5/04
Eternity Weeps was the book to end the short-lived marriage of Bernice Summerfield and Jason Kane. As Benny was soon to be taking over the reigns as star of the NAs, the powers that be decided she would work better on her own, unencumbered by her dolt of a husband. During the course of the novel, not only does Mortimore kill off the Summerfield-Kane marriage, but also most of the supporting cast, countless extras, dozens of unseen scientists, an entire alien civilization, and a large percentage of the Earth's population. Yikes. I imagine that if you were to ask Mortimore to mow your lawn for you while on vacation, you'd return home to find that he's accomplished this task by sending your sun supernova.
The story is told by alternating the narrative viewpoints; Jason narrates the even-numbered chapters, while Benny relates the events during the odd. This is a neat trick, showing us the state of the marriage from both sides as it slowly disintegrates. The story puts them on separate paths at the beginning, placing each one on a separate expedition to find the remains of Noah's Ark in the early part of the 21st Century.
Naturally, the story gets more science-fictiony, but I quite liked the opening trek to find the Ark. This is the sort of thing that the Benny-oriented books did well. There's a lot of good atmosphere setting, character work and playful banter. I enjoy this sort of mystery/voyage type story, and Mortimore does it very well. It serves as a nice counterpoint to what comes later.
In general, killing off a sympathetic, well-defined secondary character is effective. Killing off most of the supporting cast can be shocking. When the death toll starts climbing into the millions, it's a little harder to grasp. It's almost difficult to take the story seriously when the numbers get that high. Still, the scenes of the alien virus sweeping through buildings, settlements, military bases and research facilities are genuinely creepy and frightening. It's the success of these portions that allows the reader to vividly imagine how this catastrophe is taking place on a global scale. Mortimore has killed off millions of people before (in his fiction, I hasten to clarify), but I think this is his most effective attempt.
Mortimore's fascination with Doctor Who and the Silurians continues here. He manages to tie up a few loose-ends from that story without being fanwanky or annoying, and he even updates one of the more memorable set pieces from that serial.
I liked Eternity Weeps, although I couldn't shake the image of Jim Mortimore sitting in front of his work processor, dressed as Omega from The Three Doctors, pounding on his keyboard, shouting "ALL THINGS! ALL THINGS! ALL THINGS MUST BE DESTROYED!" It's paced confidently and has a couple of good ideas at its core. Just try not to get too attached to, well, anybody.