Candy Jar Books’ anniversary series of Lethbridge-Stewart novels continues with the second book of The Laughing Gnome arc, Fear of the Web.
Following The Laughing Gnome: Scary Monsters, book two shifts focus to Dame Anne Bishop (nee Travers) as she finds herself dragged back in time from 2011 to a pivotal moment in history – February 1969, and the events of the Doctor Who serial, The Web of Fear!
Fear of the Web is written by first-time novelist, Alyson Leeds, who contributed a short story to 2017’s The HAVOC Files 4. She says:
“I was quite stunned to be asked if I would write a book as part of the upcoming 50th Anniversary series. It was both an exciting and fairly intimidating prospect, having never written a novel before, but I knew it was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up. The scenario that Andy gave me was too interesting to refuse.”
Range Editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, explains:
“Alyson’s short story needed very little work, and since then I’ve called upon her military knowledge for other books, so it was an easy call to invite her to join the line-up for The Laughing Gnome. For someone who’s done little professional prose writing, she turns in a very solid piece of work, which is every editor’s dream. As we are celebrating fifty years of the Brigadier, it was forgone conclusion that we would go back to the beginning, his first appearance in Doctor Who – The Web of Fear, as written by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln. Like all the authors for this range, I gave Alyson the basic premise; put Dame Anne into the missing two weeks mentioned in The Web of Fear – during a small briefing scene between Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain Knight and the Doctor – and finally show just what did happen when the mist started spreading across London, and add to that the idea that Dame Anne will be faced with the notion that she could, theoretically, changed things to ensure her father is never possessed by the Great Intelligence! Alyson jumped at the chance, and soon had an outline ready to go.”
“The London Event, indeed The Web of Fear, was the making of Lethbridge-Stewart, but was never just his story. There’s an awful lot that goes on off camera there; the slow advance of the mist and Web, the escalation of the crisis, and the total evacuation of London – no mean feat! Introducing an older, experienced Anne who has known both joy and loss over the years into that scenario presented some interesting questions. After everything she’s been through with HAVOC, you would think Anne would know better than to try and change the past; but when faced with the chance to save a loved one from a truly horrible fate, who’s to say to what lengths she might go? It also presented a chance to explore a little further the relationship between the Travers family and the Silversteins. I always felt bad for Mr Silverstein, getting bumped off simply for being unlucky enough to own the Yeti, and revisiting this point in time allowed me to touch on the repercussions that his death would have on those closest to him.”
Here’s the blurb:
Dame Anne Bishop learned a long time ago that for every fixed point in time, this a fracture point, an event that is susceptible to catastrophic changes in the timeline. And when she is catapulted back in time, she discovers first hand that February 1969 is one such point.
Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart is on manoeuvres with the Scots Guards in Libya. Only, he’s about to receive a call from his old commanding officer, Colonel Spencer Pemberton. A call that will drag him to London, and set him on a direct course for destiny!
The London Event, the trap set for the Doctor by the Great Intelligence, changed the course of human history, and for Anne Travers it set into place a series of events that would see the death of her father barely a year later.
Now, waking up in the body of a woman she barely knows, Dame Anne is faced with the idea that perhaps she can change things – not enough to damage the timeline, but enough to save her father.
Future and past are set to collide, which could have irrevocable consequences for the timeline…
Martin Baines provides the stunning but haunting cover; you may recognise his work from the covers of 2016’s Times Squared, and 2017’s The Dreamer’s Lament. He says:
“The Web of Fear is rightly regarded one of the gems of Doctor Who in the ’60s. It’s brilliantly written and well directed and has aged very well. When Candy Jar asked me to illustrate a cover depicting another story set during the same period I was really thrilled, especially when they asked me to show London deserted and covered in web (which was not seen in the original story but mentioned). It took a number of roughs to do justice to the idea, but when I saw some images of London in smog I knew the direction to take.”
The Laughing Gnome: Fear of the Web is available for pre-order now for £8.99 (+ p&p); if you’re a subscriber, The Laughing Gnome is covered by this. The book is released at the end of September.