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Literature / Doc Sidhe

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A series of novels by Aaron Allston paying homage to Pulp Magazine adventure stories like Doc Savage and The Shadow.

The setting is an otherworld whose people were the inspiration for legends of elves. Unlike many depictions of Faerie, it isn't stuck in Medieval Stasis, but has developed a technology level and society equivalent to our world's in the 1930s. Very equivalent. While it is regarded as an association of sun worshippers, Japan and Germany are getting kinda close...

There are two novels in the series:

  • Doc Sidhe (1995)
  • Sidhe Devil (2001)

This series provides examples of:

  • Aliens Speaking English: When Harris Greene first travels to the fair world, one of the reasons it takes him so long to realise he's in another world is that the language spoken by the locals is, by a convenient coincidence, exactly the same as English. It's later established that it isn't just English and Low Cretanis that are the same, but German and Burian, Italian and Isperian, French and Lorian, Spanish and Castilian etc. This is made a plot point, as it turns out to be one of the signs that Doc's world and ours are fundamentally interconnected.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Duncan Blackletter to Doc.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Noriko carries a katana as he primary weapon while her teammates are armed with modern firearms and explosives. Somewhat justified as it has a pure steel blade with is very effective against anyone with fae blood, but she still receives a lot of ribbing for it from the rest of team; especially her boyfriend Jean-Pierre.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: In Sidhe Devil, Swana Weiss is captured in this fashion while disguised as Teleri Obeldon.
  • Balls of Steel: Knowing of Psycho for Hire Angus Prowie's fondness for the Groin Attack, Harris foils him by wearing a cup with Cold Iron spikes welded to it. When Powrie attempts to knee Harris in the groin, he ends up in a world of pain.
  • Bed Trick: A variant in Sidhe Devil where Doc is captured, chained up and sent erotic dreams of his lover, Ish, for the purpose of acquiring his semen.
  • Cardboard Box Home: One of Blackletter's first victims lives a refrigerator box. A paragraph or so is devoted to how comfortable it is and he considers himself lucky to have secured it.
  • Celibate Hero: Discussed and averted. Harris thinks Doc might swear off relationships until he retires. "Why would anyone punish himself that way?"
  • Cold Iron: The people of the fair world find the touch of iron painful (which makes things interesting for construction workers building 1930s-style steel-framed skyscrapers). In Doc Sidhe, Doc and his colleagues are surprised to learn that the human protagonist, Harris Greene, carries a pocketknife with a steel blade, and even more surprised when he demonstrates that he can touch the blade with no ill effect.
  • Combat Medic: Alastair
  • Deadly Doctor: Alastair explains that his world's equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath only applies to his patients and the guys he shoots aren't patients until after he shoots them.
  • Driven to Suicide: Doc's wife in the backstory. Queen Maeve in the sequel.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: in Chapter 15, while in a club, Harris discovers that the equivalent of the blues on the fair world is traditionally played with the singer accompanied by bagpipes.
    Doc: That's the way it's done. What else could sound so soulful?
    Harris: Do you suppose anyone would get mad if I beat both of them to death?
  • Extreme Doormat: Harris Greene starts out as one.
  • Eye Scream: Happens to Duncan Blackletter courtesy of an exploding TV.
  • The Fair Folk: Most inhabitants of the fair world. The Fair Folk are just as morally varied as humans are. Furthermore, the fair world has advanced at the nearly same rate as the human world, so fairies in the 1990s have 1930s level technology, mixed with magic (which is no longer called magic because it can be studied scientifically). And they've interbred with humans so many times as a result of changelings and other visitations that most are nearly human height.
  • Fake in the Hole: Jean-Pierre does this in the first novel. When the gunmen invade Doc's office, Jean-Pierre throws a paperweight at one, shouting "Stickbomb!". While the thug is trying to get away from the supposed bomb, Jean-Pierre shoots him.
  • Fantastic Racism: forms the backbone of the plot in Sidhe Devil.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: In Doc Sidhe, Harris does not have a badge. But he chooses a car full of college students and shouts, "I'm with the Sidhe Foundation, follow that car!" and they are so enthused at the thought that they do.
  • Follow That Car: In Doc Sidhe, Harris does this. He's quite aware of what a cliché it is, but in the pulp action elfland he's in, it works. The way the driver and passengers cheer when he says it startles him so much he nearly falls off the car.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: For the 2013 re-release, Allston rewrote Doc Sidhe slightly to more closely match his current prose style.
  • Grew a Spine: This is the main character development arc for Harris Greene. The key Grew A Spine moment is when he holds to doing the right thing even though it will mean losing his fiancée. Fortunately, it turns out to be a Secret Test of Character — she wants him to do the right thing, and if he'd folded to try and keep her, he would really have lost her.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Angus Powrie likes giving these out. Also how Zeb wins his Olympic fight.
    • Common in "All-Out" competition fights in general:
      Blows to the balls are permitted, but biting them is not.
  • Heroic Bastard: Doc is the unacknowledged son of the Prince Consort.
  • Insecurity Camera: Averted. In the final battle in Doc Sidhe, both sides use and abuse talk-boxes - both their own and the other side's — but none of the glitches are ever treated as being due to anything other than deliberate intent.
  • Intimate Hair Brushing: In one scene Doc watches Ish brushing her hair and then uses a devisement to clean his own hair. When Ish expresses annoyance because she lacks the Gift to use that devisement, Doc takes her hairbrush and starts brushing her hair himself.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: In Sidhe Devil, Doc leaves a party with Ish on one arm and Gaby on the other providing support to keep him from falling over due to magical exhaustion.
  • Licking the Blade: Harris is sent to another world whose inhabitants are extremely sensitive to Cold Iron. He demonstrates his immunity by holding his steel pocketknife in his bare hand, and then licks the blade just to see their expressions.
  • Modern Mayincatec Empire: Ish is a princess from a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of a Modern Mayincatec Empire that is still fighting a guerrilla war against the colonial powers.
  • My Own Private "I Do": Harris and Gaby get married in the fair world sometime between Doc Sidhe and Sidhe Devil; Sidhe Devil opens with them having another wedding in the grim world for the sake of their family and friends.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The physical description of the villain in the novel Doc Sidhe bears a striking resemblance to The Shadow.
    • So does Zeb in Sidhe Devil — dressed in black, fedora pulled low, scarf pulled up over his face, and unnerving laughter:
      He rode atop them, cloaked in the night, his training and the pistols in his pockets ... making him more dangerous than any of them.... a laugh bubbled up out of him, and had any of the soldiers aboard the train heard it, they would have been chilled by the mad humor in it.
  • Offing the Offspring: averted. Gaby and Harris go to great lengths to prevent Doc killing Duncan. See Disney Villain Death.
  • Older Than They Look: As a pureblood sidhe, Doc ages very slowly. Harrison's initial estimate of Doc's age is off by several decades.
  • One-Drop Rule: Lampshaded and made a plot point in Sidhe Devil. The story kicks off with Doc being abducted for his seed because he's pure-blooded Daoine Sidhe and his half brother and step-mother, who are in on the plot, secretly aren't due to the one-drop rule.
    Doc: I cannot imagine being so devoted to a matter of race that you would lie about it for so many years and suffer to conceal some wayward drop of blood in your ancestry.
  • People of Hair Color: Played with. Blonds are considered a separate ethnicity from brunettes, but no distinction is made among darker-skinned characters.
  • Pineapple Surprise: Doc does this while possessed by the spirit of the Warbringer in Doc Sidhe; using magic to cause the grenades Blackletter's men are carrying to detonate while they are still wearing them.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In Sidhe-Devil, Rudi Bergmonk catches the man most responsible for him being forced to kill his eldest brother. The guy tries to surrender. Rudi, a crook who's working with Doc Sidhe only in order to avenge his brother, replies, "You've mistaken me for one of the good [guys]." Bang.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Sidhe Devil" is pronounced "she-devil".
  • Raised by Orcs: Darig the Changeling was raised by Angus Powrie, who pretty muchly is an orc.
  • Reality Changing Miniature: In Sidhe Devil miniature models of a city are used to cast spells that affect the real city.
  • Royal Bastard: While officially the records state "father unknown" but unofficially, it's well known that Doc is the son of the (now-deceased) prince-consort of Cretanis.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: In Sidhe-Devil, Zeb Watson is upset because a mistake he made may have kept him from reducing the death toll in a terrorist attack (even further than he did). And Doc Sidhe tells him:
    "That's why I am still in this business, Zeb. The newspapers talk about the good we do. But when I dream, only the ones I failed to save come to visit me. And I think, 'Maybe next time. Maybe then I'll get everyone out. Maybe then I'll take the killer down in time.' I owe it to the ones I've failed."
  • Uncoffee: Xioc. It's unsweetened cocoa.
  • Up the Real Rabbit Hole: There's a moment in Sidhe Devil when the main viewpoint character, Zeb, apologizes to Doc for having taken the attitude that the fair world was "Less real than where I come from." He's changed his view after failing to completely prevent a terrorist attack; a little girl died of her injuries as he was carrying her to a doctor. Now It's Personal.
  • We Help the Helpless: What the Sidhe Foundation does.
  • The Worm That Walks: In Doc Sidhe, Duncan Blackletter's construct Adonis turns out to be composed (and animated) by a bunch of worms over an oversized humanoid skeleton.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: In the fair world, zeppelins and autogyros are still cutting edge aviation technology, and the climactic showdown of Doc Sidhe takes place on board the major villain's airship.