Doc Sidhe

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A two-novel series by Aaron Allston paying homage to Pulp Magazine adventure stories like Doc Savage and The Shadow.

The setting is an otherworld whose people were the inspiration for legends of elves. Unlike many depictions of Faerie, it isn't stuck in Medieval Stasis, but has developed a technology level and society equivalent to our world's in the 1930s. Very equivalent. While it is regarded as an association of sun worshippers, Wo (Japan) and Weseria (Germany) are getting kinda close. . . .

Consists of:

Tropes used in Doc Sidhe include:


  • Aliens Speaking English: The native language of the fair world's equivalent of America is, by a convenient coincidence, exactly the same as English. In the novel Doc Sidhe, this is made a plot point, as it turns out to be one of the signs that Doc's world and ours are fundamentally interconnected.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: In Sidhe Devil.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Duncan Blackletter to Doc.
  • Celibate Hero: Discussed and averted. Harris thinks Doc might swear off relationships until he retires. "Why would anyone punish himself that way?"
  • Cold Iron: The people of the fair world find the touch of iron painful at best (which makes things interesting for construction workers building 1930s-style steel-framed skyscrapers). In Doc Sidhe, Doc and his colleagues are surprised to learn that the human protagonist, Harris Greene, carries a pocketknife with a steel blade, and even more surprised when he demonstrates that he can touch the blade with no ill effect.
  • Deadly Doctor: Alastair explains that his world's equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath only applies to his patients — and the guys he shoots aren't patients until after he shoots them.
  • Dieselpunk
  • Disney Villain Death
  • Driven to Suicide: Doc's wife in the backstory. Queen Maeve in the sequel.
  • Eat the Dog: The Weserian government is, unsurprisingly, promoting racism. Weserian dissident Swana asks (African-American) Zeb if it's true that Africans eat dogs and do other barbarous things. He's naturally irked at this, but she explains that she didn't really believe it, and asked him in order to confirm her skepticism. Harris jokes with Zeb later that they should eat Swana's dog.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes
  • Extreme Doormat: Harris Greene starts out as one.
  • Eye Scream: Happens to Duncan Blackletter courtesy of an exploding TV.
  • The Fair Folk
  • Fake in the Hole: Jean-Pierre does this in the first novel. When the gunmen invade Doc's office, Jean-Pierre throws a paperweight at one, shouting "Stickbomb!". While the thug is trying to get away from the supposed bomb, Jean-Pierre shoots him.
  • Fantastic Racism: forms the backbone of the plot in Sidhe Devil.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Duncan to his henchmen.
  • Flashed Badge Hijack / Follow That Car!: In Doc Sidhe. The driver and her passengers cheer so loudly, in unison, when Harris speaks the famous line that he nearly falls off (he didn't take the time to get in and is clinging to the car's outside).
  • Grew a Spine: This is the main character development arc for Harris Greene. The key Grew A Spine moment is when he holds to doing the right thing even though it will mean losing his fiancée. Fortunately, it turns out to be a Secret Test of Character -- she wants him to do the right thing, and if he'd folded to try and keep her, he would really have lost her.
  • Groin Attack: Angus Powrie likes giving these out. Also how Zeb wins his Olympic fight.
    • Harris figures out how to use this against Angus: he hides a spiked groin-protector under his trousers and lets Powrie take his classic shot. The spikes are shards of Cold Iron, made to break off in Angus' fist, not only ripping up his hand but poisoning him.
  • Heroic Bastard: Doc is the unacknowledged son of the Prince Consort.
  • Hot Chick with a Sword: Noriko
  • I Choose to Stay: Harris and Gaby in the first book and Zeb in the second; all as members of Doc's crew.
  • I'm Your Worst Nightmare: Said word for word by Zeb to A Nazi by Any Other Name. It was simpler than what he originally thought of saying: I'm a black man with guns and I despise your whole political party and everything it's trying to do. Later, he learns the bad guys have adopted this as a name for him, calling him Der Alpdruck — The Nightmare.
  • Meaningful Name: Doc and his group need someone to pose as Teleri Obeldon. The lookalike they find is named Swana Weiss—and yes, "Weiss" is German or, locally, Burian for "white." To rub it in, Swana owns a dog called Odilon.
    • Doc's proper name is Desmond MaqqRee. "Maqq" is clearly much the same Patronymic as Gaelic "Mac," and "Ree" may be a variant of "Ri," meaning "king." King's son. He's actually a Prince Consort's illegitimate son, but close enough for government work.
  • Mythology Gag: The physical description of the villain in the novel Doc Sidhe bears a striking resemblance to The Shadow.
    • So does Zeb in Sidhe Devil—dressed in black, fedora pulled low, scarf pulled up over his face, and unnerving laughter:

He rode atop them, cloaked in the night, his training and the pistols in his pockets ... making him more dangerous than any of them.... A laugh bubbled up out of him, and had any of the soldiers aboard the train heard it, they would have been chilled by the mad humor in it.

  • Nice Hat: Zeb is pleased to find that fedoras — "merry-hats," they're called here — are still in style in the Fair World; he's always wanted to wear one. The origin of the hat's name is the same despite the name itself being different: in both worlds, it was named after a character who wore one in a popular (at the time) play.
  • Offing the Offspring: averted. Gaby and Harris go to great lengths to prevent Doc killing Duncan. See Disney Villain Death.
  • Our Elves Are Different
  • People of Hair Color: Played with. Blonds are considered a separate ethnicity from equally light-skinned brunettes, but no distinction is made among darker-skinned characters, who are all classed as "dusky." All. African blacks and Asians are referred to as if they're of the same people; so are blue-gray-skinned kobolds.
  • Pineapple Surprise: Doc does this while possessed by the spirit of the Warbringer in Doc Sidhe; using magic to cause the grenades Blackletter's men are carrying to detonate while they are still wearing them.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In Sidhe-Devil, Rudi Bergmonk catches the man most responsible for him being forced to kill his eldest brother. The guy tries to surrender. Rudi, a crook who's working with Doc Sidhe only in order to avenge his brother, replies, "You've mistaken me for one of the good [guys]." Bang.
  • Raised by Orcs: Darig the Changeling was raised by Angus Powrie, who pretty muchly is an orc.
  • Reality-Changing Miniature: In Sidhe Devil miniature models of a city are used to cast spells that effect the real city.
  • Revealing Coverup: This was common in the Doc Savage series, and Gaby tells Zeb it happens here as well:

"But sometimes ... bad eamons—bad guys, I mean—will start something and then say to themselves, 'You know, as soon as news of this breaks, Doc Sidhe is going to come after us.' So they start things off by gunning for Doc."

  • Samaritan Syndrome: In Sidhe-Devil, Zeb Watson is upset because a mistake he made may have kept him from reducing the death toll in a terrorist attack (even further than he did). And Doc Sidhe tells him:

"That's why I am still in this business, Zeb. The newspapers talk about the good we do. But when I dream, only the ones I failed to save come to visit me. And I think, 'Maybe next time. Maybe then I'll get everyone out. Maybe then I'll take the killer down in time.' I owe it to the ones I've failed."

  • Save Both Worlds
  • Scary Black Man: Zeb when he has his war face on.
  • Senseless Violins: The thugs who attack Doc's office in the first novel arrive at the building dressed as musicians and carrying instrument cases
  • Starbucks Skin Scale: Ish has 'coffee-with-cream' skin.
  • Technopath: Gaby. When Zeb learns of this, he says to Harris, "You didn't mention you'd also become superheroes."
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Subverted with Duncan Blackletter's death. Doc feels this way. The others really don't, and go to great lengths to stop him.
  • Two-Fisted Tales
  • Uncoffee: Xioc. (It's unsweetened cocoa.)
  • Up the Real Rabbit Hole: There's a moment in Sidhe Devil when the main viewpoint character, Zeb, apologizes to Doc for having taken the attitude that the fair world was "Less real than where I come from." He's changed his view after failing to completely prevent a terrorist attack; a little girl died of her injuries as he was carrying her to a doctor. The smell of her burned flesh is still all over his clothing and hands. Now It's Personal.
  • Values Dissonance: Invoked in-story when Noriko tells Zeb that the version of Cinderella known in Wo (Japan) specifies that her troubles are her fault for not being properly grateful and respectful to her stepmother and stepsisters. Noriko compares herself to "Cinder Ella"; the government of Wo is entitled to consider her a traitor because she didn't want to be trained as an assassin. (Though unlike Cinder Ella, Noriko won't change her mind.)
  • Zeppelins from Another World