Paul Magrs is a master of worldbuilding, storytelling, and a rollicking good romp. Having recently finished his Doctor Who novel The Scarlet Empress,...morePaul Magrs is a master of worldbuilding, storytelling, and a rollicking good romp. Having recently finished his Doctor Who novel The Scarlet Empress, I was awestruck by how easily and magically he created the world of Hyspero, its class structure, its mythology, and its people. It took the whole novel, and it sometimes eclipsed the plot, but it was such a vast, fascinating world he had created, that I didn't mind the 'intrusion' (and I use the word intrusion cautiously). This exactly how I felt reading Enter Wildthyme.
Some people would call what Paul Magrs has created here "a bunch of old fanwank and the kitchen sink." I call it a clever and unique sewing together of his own mythology. Because when he does - and he does it with such simple, elegant prose - bring in aspects of Brenda and Effie or his own Doctor Who mythology, he isn't simply throwing these aspects into a mixer and hoping for the best. They each have their own role to play within the larger universe; and they are properly introduced and given proper flow within the narrative, that you needn't have read The Bride That Time Forgot, Ringpullworld, Exchange, or The Blue Angel to feel like you are being included in this vast multiverse.
As someone who has read the vast majority of what Paul Magrs has written, I didn't feel like I was re-learning about the Blithe Pinking Shears, or the Scarlet Empress, or even MIAOW (Although it is a shame that the O no longer stands for Ontological). In fact, I felt rewarded. I wasn't being babied for having prior knowledge of these objects or concepts; I was being rewarded by seeing how interconnected the Magrsverse actually is. I would assume that, for instance, the Pinking Shears end up involved with the events of The Bride That Time Forgot because of their lifting from Iris' secret storage in Enter Wildthyme. Or that either Sheila returns from the parallel Whitby dimension or Robert keep the Miramar going long enough for it to become a chain that then, a few centuries later, expands through spacetime.
But someone coming to Enter Wildthyme a Magrsian virgin (Oh, the wonders that are to come for them!), they aren't swamped in continuity. You don't even need to know who Iris Wildthyme and Panda are in order to enjoy (or even understand) this story - there is enough introduction and explanation, and drinking to introduce everything as new, without isolating the new readers or patronising fans.
The actual story is typical Magrsian fare: hilarious, no-bounds insanity with Iris Wildthyme and Panda in the Number 22 to Putney Common. A lot of Enter Wildthyme is about catching new readers, and as such, the audience is given a character with whom we can see Iris' world through - Simon, the young boy (now a few years more grown) from Exchange. And as readers, we are treated to the fear, questioning, and sheer wonder from Simon's point of view.
I wouldn't dream of spoiling any of the adventure, which even Iris notes is a bunch of messing about at the expense of the bigger issue. But I will say that in what some might find aggravating, but is a staple of the Brenda and Effie Mysteries is that nothing is ever finished in the end. There is always a cliffhanger, always a hundred and one things left for the characters to do, in preparation for the next novel - and it is always worth it. Always.
This is not hard science fiction by any means, and definitely hits hard the border of science-fantasy: full of talking dogs and vending machines, flying dressers, having a booze-up while aliens invade an alternate Earth, and a ten-inch sentient panda (wots named Panda) who is rather good in fisticuffs. It's full of frollicking fun, danger, excitement, booze, and mythology...
It definitely needs a sequel. And a series. It's written to be one. Some may write this off as fluffy nonsense, and to an extent they would be right. But there is just so much fun to be had in Magrs' world and with his characters, and there is so much enjoyment out of the sheer gall that he thinks he can get away with...
I think it's definitely the right place to start for anyone. Whether it's for Iris Wildthyme or anything in the Magrsverse. It'd be interesting to hear how others who read, say, Exchange or The Brenda and Effie Mysteries see the interconnected universe from that angle. (less)