It’s Black Archive Week at the Doctor Who Companion, and Obverse Books is giving us an exclusive sneak peek at the next title in the range: Pyramids of Mars!
This upcoming instalment – the 12th in the range – is written by Kate Orman (The Year of Intelligence Tigers); she told the DWC:
“In the case of Pyramids, that’s a mixture of real Egyptology and Britain’s colonial relationship with Egypt, especially how that relationship has played out in fiction, from Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars to the Hammer mummy movies. I’m a lay Egyptologist (my apologies to any actual Egyptologists who read the book – I’ve done my best!), so that part was fairly straightforward; in fact, Pyramids is one reason for my lifelong interest in Ancient Egypt. The rest was my personal interest in plugging the gaps in my understanding of history and literature and how Pyramids is the product of both.”
Pyramids of Mars is, of course, a much-loved serial starring Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, so we expect this title to be very popular; certainly based on the previous Black Archive books, it’ll be well worth your money! Here’s the full synopsis:
‘Your evil is my good. I am Sutekh the Destroyer. Where I tread I leave nothing but dust and darkness. I find that good.’
Pyramids of Mars (1975) is the inheritor of not just the colourful and complex mythology of Ancient Egypt, but a long tradition of Gothic fiction which emerged during the grip of ‘Egyptomania’ on the Victorian imagination. The alluring beauty and spectacle of Ancient Egypt, the late 19th Century flowering of occultism, guilt and anxiety over the Empire and the British rule of Egypt, and the ancient emphasis on the afterlife — including the elaborate preservation of the corpse in the form of the mummy — combined to create stories of the ‘reverse colonisation’ of Britain and British bodies, minds, and souls.
This heady mixture was reincarnated in the classic Universal movies beginning in 1932, and reincarnated again by Hammer Horror, whose 1959 remake of The Mummy directly inspired Pyramids of Mars.
An exemplar of Doctor Who created by producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes, the story pits the Doctor’s science against a god who’s really an alien, served by mummies who are really robots, in a struggle for the future of Earth against one of the series’ most powerful and frightening adversaries, the enemy of all life: Sutekh the Destroyer.
Kate Orman has written or co-written 13 Doctor Who tie-in novels, including Fallen Gods, which won the 2003 Aurealis Award for best Australian science fiction novel, and numerous Doctor Who short stories, as well as writing for Doctor Who Magazine and contributing a chapter to Doctor Who and Race (Intellect, 2013). She also writes original science fiction and fantasy. She lives in Sydney with her husband and co-author, Jonathan Blum.
If you want further sneak peeks inside all the Black Archive titles – Rose, The Massacre, The Ambassadors of Death, Dark Water/ Death in Heaven, Image of the Fendahl, Ghost Light, The Mind Robber, The God Complex, Scream of the Shalka, and Evil of the Daleks – by visiting the official Obverse website, and clicking on the respective books.
The Black Archive #12: Pyramids of Mars is out on 1st July 2017, priced between £3.99 and £7.99. A physical copy will cost just £4.99!