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Recap / Doctor Who New Adventures Just War

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World War II is in full swing. Nazi Germany has occupied its first piece of British soil, in the form of the Channel Islands. More importantly, though, the German military appears to have got its hands on technology that should not have been invented yet. The Doctor and his companions investigate, with Roz and Chris joining the British secret service and Benny going undercover in the Channel Islands.

Adapted by Big Finish as part of the Bernice Summerfield audio series in 1999, significantly abridging the parts of the novel that don't involve Benny due to the fact that Big Finish at the time only had the license to her corner of the Whoniverse and could not do anything directly involving the Doctor.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Cassandra Truth: Played for drama when an undercover Benny is captured and interrogated by the Nazis until she cracks and confesses everything — and the interrogation continues because the interrogator doesn't believe her. In a twist, it's not simply that he doesn't accept her claim to be from the future, but that he doesn't accept the future she claims to be from: he's genuinely convinced the Nazis will win and create a future that will not contain people like Benny.
  • Covers Always Lie: Just War has the deliberately deceptive kind of lying cover, with the blurb making a big deal about the Doctor arriving in World War II to find the Germans occupying British soil, and assuring the reader that this is not an alternate universe and there will be no reset button at the end. It turns out the blurb is talking about the historical occupation of the Channel Islands, but concealing this fact to avoid spoiling the opening chapter, which likewise doesn't mention it until the Doctor gives the Wham Line that tells the reader "The reason there's no reset button is because this actually happened." The cover illustration shows the TARDIS parked in a street occupied by German soldiers, which doesn't happen in the text; the TARDIS spends the entire story safely parked in London.
  • Disguised in Drag: At one point, the Doctor disguises himself as a nun to evade a Nazi search. When Chris says nobody will believe that someone who looks like him is a woman, he predicts that nobody will question it because it would be too embarrassing to say "This nun is too ugly to be a real woman" and be wrong.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Just War. Are we fighting a just war? Or is it just war?
  • Fun with Acronyms: Reveals that UNIT had a predecessor organisation called LONGBOW, run under the aegis of the League of Nations. It's not revealed what the remaining letters of the acronym stand for.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: Played with. The Doctor and his companions suspect the Nazis have been given their advanced stealth technology by aliens or time travellers (it wouldn't be the first time), but they learn that the technology is the Prochronic Product of inventor Emil Hartung. There does turn out to have been a time traveller involved — one of the Doctor's earlier companions, during a visit to the 1930s, inadvertently inspired Hartung to turn his mind to stealth technology by making an incautious comment about radar — but it's made clear that everything resulting from that was the product of Hartung's own genius.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: The Doctor does this for a captive, unrepentant Nazi in the guise of a round of Russian Roulette. The Doctor plays by the rules, and no harm comes to him. The Nazi, when he gets the gun, cheats and tries to shoot the Doctor, and accuses the Doctor of cheating when the gun fails to fire. The Nazi then looks in the gun — and discovers it's loaded. The Doctor leaves the Nazi with the gun and the knowledge that he's ultimately a coward and a failure.
  • Magical Realism: The book has a few whimsical touches involving the Doctor including a scene where his reflection doesn't follow his movements exactly and a scene where he apparently walks on water, just to remind readers that he's not human.
  • National Geographic Nudity: An aversion is described; one character in the 1940s has a children's encyclopedia from the 1930s, which has a picture of a South African woman in "tribal dress", and a note saying that at home she doesn't usually have a blanket wrapped around her. He tells Roz that for years he wondered what she wore instead of the blanket.
  • Prochronic Product: Set during World War II, and the plot hook is that the Nazis have genius polymath inventor Emil Hartung working for them, providing advanced technology including a stealth bomber. Hartung dies while testing one of his inventions and the heroes arrange for the existing prototypes to be destroyed, preserving the timeline.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Just War takes the idea of the Nazis having anachronistic technology and plays it surprisingly straight.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The Nazis in Just War are not wacky at all. Parkin was actually inspired by Terrance Dicks' Timewyrm: Exodus, because he didn't like Dicks' use of the "aliens possessed Hitler" trope. Instead, Just War's chief Nazi is a completely mundane, well-educated man who is simply a true believer in fascism, and Hitler is never mentioned once.
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: Played with at the end of Just War. A Nazi official gets hold of a book Benny was using to blend into the time period, which details the entire progress of the war, but history is unaffected because he's unable to get his warnings heard by the paranoid and disorganized Nazi high command, and is left to watch impotently as the Third Reich falls apart on cue.