This Town Will Never Let Us Go
Roots: The "War on Terror" and media reaction to terrorist attacks. There is a reference to the recent discovery of a child's torso in the Thames. Inevitably, there are numerous references to pop culture: Tiffany Korta is based on young female pop singers like Brittany Spears and Christina Aguilera, and as anyone who has read Miles' Beasthouse website will know, Waco Black is based on Marilyn Manson. There are references to The Muppet Show, George Orwell and 1984 and Animal Farm, Moby Dick, Nietzsche, King Kong, Mary Culver, Greek Myth (Demeter and Orpheus), Jane of the Jungle, Around the World in Eighty Days, Jason and the Argonauts, Faust, the Sun, Edvard Munch's The Scream, Joan of Arc, Freud, Jung, the Titanic, New York Yankees, Oswald Moseley, Isaac Newton, Planet of the Apes, The Twilight Zone, The Terminator, MTV, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Hinduism (Shiva), Marilyn Monroe's performance in The Dead Travel Fast, Hitler, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", Moses, Orson Welles, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Wile E. Coyote, Coca cola, the picture Monarch of the Glen, and James Bond (SPECTRE).
Continuity: According to legend, early Faction Paradox masks were carved out of bones buried in the foundations of history [for example the bones of Dæmons - see Interference]; other myths hold that the bat-skull design represents a particular kind of entity [vampires? - see State of Decay], whilst others suggest that the early masks were carved out of the spinal columns of beings whose heads were never found. Assuming that the Executive is the real Faction Paradox, they are trying to master the popular media via Tiffany Korta's uber-form, presumably because of the effect of culture on the War and on the Ships. When Tiffany breaks away from the Faction, they decide that the project is no longer viable and decide to concentrate on something more mainstream.
The War is now impacting on Earth, with rocket attacks on towns and cities, and phrases such as Faction Paradox and Ships of War becoming part of popular culture. The implication here [which is largely a conceit of the author's voice] is that the "War" is a cultural phenomenon, reflected in the actual wars and terrorist attacks of the early twenty-first century. Side-effects of the War impacting on Earth include the fact that malaria is now rife once more in Little Cuba.
If anything can be taken literally here, a Ship of War (a TARDIS) has crashed on Earth and buried itself beneath the town; the Ship influences the culture around it, such that an Arena has been constructed above it as "a primitive place of worship". The control room of the Ship is black, empty and featureless, save for a hexagonal column of violet light in the centre, in which a pilot hangs suspended, physically interfaced with the Ship. According to rumour, pilots are modified using the technology of the War to the point where they resemble insects. Ships of War are described here as "lumps" of War, Culture and Ritual, so although it seems that the Ship crashed and is buried below the town, influencing the cultures and rituals of the war-stricken town, it is also possible that the town is actually a crucible in which the Ship was born.
Links: The Book of the War (the concept of Ships of War as a particularly advanced type of Timeship). There are references to Compassion and her status as mother of the Ships of War (Interference, The Shadows of Avalon, The Ancestor Cell).
Location: An unnamed town in England [probably on the outskirts of London, given that "Foxy" works for the Sun newspaper and doesn't have far to travel to the office], c. 2004.
The Bottom Line: More of a textbook than a novel, This Town Will Never Let Us Go is essentially a forum for Miles to expound his theories on popular culture, the media and the "War on Terror". As a result it's dense, complex, and thought-provoking, although it is also, perhaps inevitably, colossally self-important, as Miles presents his opinions as facts and writes in such a way as to dismiss out of hand anyone who might disagree with him on anything whatsoever. Nevertheless, if you can get through it, This Town Will Never Let Us Go is a rewarding read, although I do question the wisdom of taking this approach to launch a new range of novels, even though The Book of the War preceded it.