The tigers are coming to town. The weather is going to hell. And the Doctor has taken his violin and vanished.
Hitchemus seems like the perfect leisure planet: a musician's haven with perfect weather and no threats of attack, be they alien or animal. The citizens are healthy and wealthy and anyone who can make any sort of music at all gets enough money to get by. The Doctor and Fitz are having the time of their lives, taking a break after the traumatizing events of the previous adventure, and though Anji isn't enjoying herself quite as much, everything appears normal. The Doctor is preparing to play first violin in composer Karl Sadeghi's new concerto, all while having buckets of Ho Yay with Karl. But the tigers, who seemed so peaceful and stupid before, march into town with alarming intelligence, invading and taking all of the music teachers, including Karl, hostage. The Doctor, unable to come to terms with the new resistance movement's leader, storms into the Bewilderness to solve the crisis himself.
After befriending a young tiger named Bounce, the Doctor quickly goes natural and insinuates himself among the tigers. He discovers that, while their invasion had planned years in advance, none of them have any idea what to do now that they have the humans at their mercy. Big, the leader of the intelligent tigers, seems open to the Doctor's attempts at negotiating a peaceful settlement, but Longbody, a tiger who had lived in Port Any for years pretending to "learn" from humans and acting tame, bears a grudge against the humans and wishes to massacre everyone living on Hitchemus.
The Year of Intelligent Tigers provides examples of:
- Beware the Nice Ones: Karl Sadeghi is a sweet, stuttering composer who's in love with the Doctor... and who attempted genocide on the tigers.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The book emphasizes the fact that the creatures on Hitchemus aren't actually tigers, merely animals that look similar due to parallel evolution. There are quite a few differences consistently pointed out—for instance, the tigers lay eggs and have opposable thumbs on both front and hind legs. Useful for opening doors and playing violin.
- Bold Inflation: Besma Grieve often talks in italics.
- Bollywood Nerd: After having her fill of Hitchemus' tourist and holiday attractions, Anji entertains herself by going to the library to study up on the planetary economy.
- Cassandra Truth: Anji never trusted the tigers, and gets increasingly frustrated when people tell her to calm down and stop being ridiculous.
- Cat Folk: The tigers. They're just intelligent tigers who have Bizarre Alien Biology, lay eggs, and have two opposable thumbs on each paw.
- Cool Pet: At least one person was keeping tigers as pets before the tigers rose up.
- Creative Sterility: The Doctor complains of being like "an idiot savant" because while he's amazing at playing instruments, particularly the violin, he cannot improvise or come up with any of his own material. This is part of an overarching subplot/motif of his being not quite human.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Fitz more than proves himself a capable leader here, organizing a concert to lift the city's spirits (and stall for time for the Doctor).
- Did They or Didn't They?: Karl and the Doctor. Quite specifically in one scene in which the Doctor is at Karl's flat and Karl is wearing a dressing gown for no stated reason.
- Dream Melody: The Doctor repeatedly plays a specific "six-note melody". When asked about it some time in the '30s, he says, "Don't think it's been written yet." At the end of the book, it's revealed to be a song which Fitz wrote and played for him before he got amnesia.Sail on, sailor, sail on,
Still listening for your siren song;
Tomorrow is your only home...
- Easily Forgiven: Karl. It stands to reason that the Doctor, who's really in no position to judge and anyway clearly in a relationship with him, wouldn't be too angry. But it's quite odd that a bunch of tigers want to join his orchestra after he committed mass murder upon their fellows.
- Elegant Classical Musician: The Doctor.He looked every inch the devils fiddler, thought Karl his slender body carelessly slouching, long fingers flashing, aristocratic face taut with concentration, long copper-gold hair flying. His audiences appreciation was more than musical.
- Fatal Attractor: The Doctor, what with Karl going over all murder-y.
- Freudian Excuse: Karl again. Not that killing the tigers is justified, but they did kidnap and terrorize him for weeks. Plus, he's depicted having PTSD-like flashbacks before killing the tigers.
- Going Native: The Doctor tries to, with the tigers. They don't quite accept him, making some sort of point about how he can't really fit in anywhere.
- Important Haircut: The Doctor, when he goes to live with the tigers.
- Intelligent Gerbil: The tigers. They're intended as a thematic parallel to the Doctor's apparent-but-sometimes-misleading similarity to another Earth species.
- Like a Duck Takes to Water: Fitz. Hitchemus is a planet where as long as you're a musician your living expenses are taken care of, and where everything's a bit more laid back... plus, according to him, Everyone Is Bi.
- Official Couple: According to author Kate Orman, the Doctor and Karl were in a romantic (and sexual) relationship.
- Rooftop Concert: Fitz gets to organize and lead one.A concert, said Fitz. We get together as many musicians as we can, and we give a concert from one of the rooftops, where everyone can hear it. Lots of noise and energy, lots of flash and sparkle. Itll show everyone, humans, tigers, that Port Any is still alive and kicking.
- Speech-Impaired Animal: The tigers.
- Speech Impediment: Karl seems to, to have a slight stutter.
- Starving Artist: Averted; Hitchemus has a system in place whereby all musicians get enough money to get by. It's not very much, but starving isn't an issue.
- Talking Animal: The intelligent tigers.
- Through His Stomach: The Doctor, with everyone he likes.
- Wag the Director: In-universe, the Doctor gets like this after he joins an orchestra as first violinist. He is very gifted, but becomes a massive diva, eventually playing a solo over 100 bars long — it was supposed to be 24 — and only stopping when his violin strings break. The rest of the orchestra is not pleased. After being called out for his antics, he tells the conductor-composer that he doesn't understand the music because he's human. Then the Doctor throws the music sheets into the air, smashes his violin, and flounces off.
- Weird Aside: Karl Sadeghi happens to mention his "surviving family", which might be an odd distinction to make if you've got about as many living family members as anyone else, implying he has a difficult backstory which never really comes up.