Lethbridge-Stewart is in a race against the Soviet Union! Can he be first to recover the alien secretsh in Spheres of Influence from Candy Jar Books
Candy Jar Books have revealed that the first book in its final series of Lethbridge-Stewart novels will be Spheres of Influence by Violet Addison and David N Smith. It also marks the writing team’s first entry in the Lethbridge-Stewart series. However the pair are no strangers to the worlds of Doctor Who. Their previous separate work has included short stories for both Big Finish’s Short Trips and Bernice Summerfield collections. They then teaming up to pen a Faction Paradox short story for Obverse Books.
“Some stories are just too big for small-form, they need more space to breathe.”
Lethbridge-Stewart range editor Andy Frankham-Allen explained why Candy Jar had delayed the novel from its original release slot. And why its name had had to change, too… “We were nearing the end of editing, with the final changes just arriving from Violet and David, when the invasion began. Knowing the content of Spheres of Influence (originally called The Russian Incursion) I became a tad worried that releasing it at that time might be insensitive, not knowing how many of our readers may have been personally affected by the war in Ukraine. A long conversation was held between Shaun (Russell) and I, and we decided to hold off the book for a while. I spoke to the authors, explained the situation and they agreed.
“Originally, the book was pitched to me as a short story for one of The HAVOC Files,” he continued, “but there was something in the idea I liked. And I thought it would be better served if explored as a novel. Some stories are just too big for small-form, they need more space to breathe. And so I posed the idea of making it a novel, and Violet and David jumped at the opportunity.”
“Lethbridge-Stewart [is] such a wonderful, idiosyncratic character. A legend. An icon.”
Author Violet Addison mused on the dangers of using science fiction as a mirror for the real world. “This book was originally written in 2020,” she explained, “during the height of the pandemic, and was supposed to be published in early 2022. It was designed to be something of a warning, dressed up as science-fiction. It was all going to be jolly good fun, dealing with real-world issues, using good old-fashioned sci-fi metaphors.
“Then real life intervened. Suddenly real-world events were dangerously close to those in our supposedly far-fetched fiction, so we chose to delay publication, until the real world settled down. Ten months later, it now finally feels appropriate to release it. We’ve not changed a single word of the text. The parallels with the real world will now be glaringly obvious – our warning far too late – but many of the underlying messages are now more pressing, more real, than ever. We therefore like to think that it’s a book with something relevant to say.
“The real joy of working on this range for us is, of course, writing for Lethbridge-Stewart. He’s such a wonderful, idiosyncratic character. A legend. An icon. In sixty years of Doctor Who, no other character has come close to making the same impact as he did, albeit in a very understated way. He never stole the show, but he always did his duty. There simply are not enough fictional characters like Lethbridge-Stewart. Reliable, dependable and professional; a good man simply trying to do the best he can. We really believe Lethbridge-Stewart will still be appearing in stories a hundred years from now. That’s what makes him important. That’s why it’s a privilege to write for him. He’s the type of person we should all aspire to be.”
“it’s been an incredibly useful process”
David N Smith, the other half of the team, took the opportunity to note the precarious nature of working on novels. “This is the first time we’ve written a novel. We’ve had over a dozen short stories published, in numerous anthologies and fanzines, but we’ve never had the confidence to complete 70,000 words before. There are at least four failed, half-written books stashed away on forgotten hard drives.
“So, when we were asked to write a novel by Andy, we gladly accepted, as we knew it would provide us with the structure we needed to actually get it done. Having a deadline, and knowing it would be published, is extraordinarily motivating. It gave us focus. And it taught us we could do it. As writers it’s been an incredibly useful process, as it means we now know with certainty, we can do it. So, one day we’ll be able to write another, because now we know we can.”
“It’s got a monster, snow and guns – what’s not to like?”
The cover is by popular artist Martin Baines. “I really enjoyed doing the cover for this one,” he says, “It’s got a monster, snow and guns – what’s not to like. Saying that, I was slightly annoyed that the Brigadier does not have a moustache. I asked Shaun if I could add one, but he said a definite no. Apparently the Brig shaves it off before this scene. I miss the moustache, but, despite this, I hope I’ve done the Brig proud.”
Lethbridge-Stewart: Spheres of Influence
An alien presence has arrived on Earth. Lethbridge-Stewart has been dispatched to determine the nature of the new arrival.
The Fifth Operational Corps is not the only one interested in the visitor. The race is on to establish diplomatic relations with the extra-terrestrial, and a top-secret military team from the Soviet Union are one step ahead of them…
If either side can successfully form an alliance with the creature, it could turn the tide of the Cold War forever, bringing it to a sudden and unexpected end – with the victor controlling the future of mankind.
Lethbridge-Stewart must call upon the brightest and the best to ensure that Britain is successful in its negotiations, as the alternative is simply too terrifying for him to contemplate… an alien menace – allied to the Soviet Union!
Failure is not an option. Not at any price.
Spheres of Influence is covered by existing Candy Jar Books subscriptions
To order, please visit https://www.freewebstore.org/candy-jar-store/product/lethbridge-stewart-seers-of-influence