Author: Sakura Tsukikage
Rating: All Ages
Word Count: 1,833
Author's Summary: Set during the Season 4 Serial "The Moonbase." The Doctor and Jamie discuss the nature of the Cybermen.
Characters/Pairings: Ben Jackson, Jamie McCrimmon, Polly Wright, The Cybermen, The Doctor (2nd)
Recced because: I like to think of myself as a tolerant Who fan, all in all. Indulgent of the foibles of my fellow Who fans where others might be moved to irritation and internet rage. Well, unless it's about The Angels Take Manhattan...or angst about viewing figures. Then I get...animated.
Anyway, apart from the above hot-button topics, one of the things that is guaranteed to make me frown slightly when I encounter it in Who fandom is somebody claiming that (insert name of bigtime Who monster/villain - usually but not always the Daleks) is "overused". I maintain that while such icons of the show's lore are quite often used badly, or even worse blandly, there's always the chance that this time (e.g. in both the Capaldi-tastic Series 8 and 9 imho) they won't be, and that these hoary old concepts might even throw up a few surprises. They are classic monsters for a reason, at the end of the day; Daleks, Cybermen and their select few peers are, by and large, concepts that keep on giving. And that's just as true of fanfictional treatments of them as it is of official stories.
And this piece, by an author who unfortunately only has two stories archived on the Teaspoon, is an excellent meditation upon the denizens of Mondas, on what they have done to themselves and continue to do to others. It is even better for being filtered via a conversation between the Second Doctor and Jamie. The author really captures the traits of both characters; this Doctor's combination of compassion and a deep morality with a steely and at times vaguely worrying certainty that some things "must be fought", set against Jamie's relative innocence, especially when it comes to adventuring in time and space, but also genuine, for want of a better word, canniness and sense of right and wrong. At the same time, the examination of the Cybermen in all of their folly and tragedy (they are both monstrous and pathetic, the author reminds us) contains more than one sly parallel to human history and politics, and to another society that we have seen much of in Who canon.
What really makes this fic worthwhile, however, is the aforementioned characterisation. It used to be a truism that the Second Doctor was hard to write properly in (fan)fiction, but I think that was mainly down to the fact that not enough people tried it. Two leaps off the page here, as does Jamie (some will have an aversion to phonetic spelling of Jamie's dialect, but it's practically traditional in Who fanfic - I for one would be rather hypocritical if I complained about it!), and when Ben and Polly show up for a brief appearance at the end, it serves as yet another reminder of just what a good Doctor-companions team this one was, albeit one with far too few stories.
So as you may be able to tell, this is another one I like very much. I hope you will too when you read it, and if so I also hope that you will leave some words of appreciation for the author.
To his surprise, Jamie just nodded. “Oh, aye,” he said knowingly. “A man can do strange things when it’s down tae doing them or dying. I should ken that well enough.” The Doctor looked over at him, surprised, but then . . . he supposed it shouldn’t be any great surprise, considering where they’d first met the young man.
“Yes, I suppose you should,” he said, and let one hand rest on Jamie’s shoulder for a moment. He could feel a slight tremor pass through Jamie’s body under his hand.
“I’d rather die than be like them, though,” Jamie said. “Could they nae see where it would get them, Doctor?” He shook his head. “All metal and the rest of it . . . I dinna think they’d have much use for a piper, aye?”
“Or for a recorder player, either,” the Doctor said, with a slight smile that made Jamie smile back, then sobered. “No, I shouldn’t think they would. There’s nothing left of the emotions that music speaks to in them, or if there is, they’ve buried it so deeply it would only alarm them, I’m afraid.”