Wonderland is a Telos novella that renders an atypically adult and unusually American take on Doctor Who. Though it features a bevvy of recurring Doctor Who enemies — the Menoptera, the Cybermen and even aspects of WOTAN — the fact that it is narrated in the first person by an American woman caught up in the counterculture movement of 1967 San Francisco yields a grittier, more visceral kind of prose than is usual in Doctor Who fiction.
Indeed, its pages are mainly concerned with a bad strain of LSD circulating in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district during the time of the famous Human Be-In concert. Far from idealising the values of the "Summer of Love", the book is unafraid to give a balanced view of hippies, free love, and drug culture.
By placing Ben and Polly amongst their American contemporaries, Chadborn is able to utilise the original setup for those characters, as depicted in their War Machines introduction in the Inferno club in London. Polly is the upbeat go-getter from the "Swingin' Sixties", and Ben is the "L7 square" military man saddled with a big bag of cynicism.
The Second Doctor, though somewhat marginalised due to the narrator's perspective, is able to capitalise on his Beatles-inspired look in a much more literal way than was ever the case on television. Indeed, the fact that the Doctor doesn't feature heavily in the book allows the author to make a powerful statement about the Doctor's general philosophical tendencies.
As Graham Joyce said in his foreward:
- "Wonderland is Doctor Who on acid, and perhaps my only regret ... is that the Doctor doesn't get to take the drug himself. But then again the Doctor probably doesn't need to. He's a trip-and-a-half all on his own. He's already there."
Summer, however, has lost her boyfriend, and fears him dead, destroyed by a new type of drug nicknamed Blue Moonbeams. Her only friends are three English tourists: Ben and Polly, and their mysterious guardian and friend the Doctor.
But will any of them help Summer, and what is the strange threat posed by the Blue Moonbeams?
to be added
- Jessica "Summer" Willamy
- Second Doctor
- Ben Jackson
- Denny Glass
- Jack Stimson
- The Goblin
- The Magic Mouse
- Fourth Doctor
- In its attempts to communicate with the Doctor, the Colour-Beast sends images of the head of a Cyberman, a Menoptera and components of WOTAN.
Cultural references from the real world
- "19th Nervous Breakdown" by the Rolling Stones plays in Jack Stimson's office.
- The Doctor has met the Beatles. Jessica mentions the Beatles song "Tomorrow Never Knows".
- Mathilda was once a member of the Theosophical Society.
- Jessica mentions Comix.
- Gerald Gardner is mentioned.
- The Human Be-In takes place at the Polo Grounds.
- John Lennon was shot outside the Dakota.
- The story features a heavy use of drug subculture that had not been explored in Doctor Who previously. At one point, the Doctor goes to a head shop and, later, idly shops for a bong. At another, he enlists Polly and Ben's help to force a room full of drug-takers to vomit before they died from the Blue Moonbeams stripe of LSD.
- The narrator, Jess, describes in graphic detail how she was nearly raped, and how she encounters a building outfitted for BDSM and violent sex.
- Multiple curse words appear in this book. Unlike other books where substitutes like kruk were invented, the language is not censored in this story.
- Because the book is aimed squarely at adults, many parents might consider reading the book first before allowing their younger children to proceed. It does not contain anything which could be fairly considered gratuitous, but LSD use and a brief scene of implied BDSM and attempted rape are integral to the plot. Please see Tardis:ParentPage for more information.