Tube workers’ long detour
released 18 February 352 pages | Paperback/ ebook
Author Simon Morden
At times, Down Station feels a little like a modern take on the first Doctor Who story, “An Unearthly Child”, as two modern- day Londoners find themselves abruptly whisked back to a prehistoric landscape with a mysterious, but oddly wise, older man.
But there the similarities end. One character, Dalip, is a Sikh engineering student, while the other, Mary, is struggling to leave her delinquent teens behind. They’re set up with great economy as Simon Morden throws us into the story: a disaster on the London Underground drives a bunch of cleaners and engineers through a portal and into a strange new world. There Stanislav, who was responsible for Dalip’s safety in the Tube tunnels, proves remarkably capable – but with little understanding of their surroundings, they quickly run into trouble.
It’s the characters’ experiences that make this a fresh take on the “cut off from civilisation” subgenre. Mary’s desire to live in a world without rules is suddenly, and terrifyingly, granted, while Dalip’s life has always been very structured. We’re drawn in by their responses to this world as much as we are to what the world is actually like, which makes for a satisfying novel. Eddie Robson
Down Street is one of London’s many defunct Underground stations. It’s in Mayfair, and was on the Piccadilly Line.