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Old Doctor Who - Part 4

Started by Ambient Sheep, June 04, 2020, 11:02:35 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

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You can bite a Sontaran's head and make the two inside surfaces touch each other, and repeatedly doing this is quite satisfying in a tactile way. 

purlieu


Twilight of the Gods by Mark Clapham & Jon de Burgh Miller

Clarence decided to find out.
"Your subjects are very loyal, great Sultan," he oozed, applying all the ego-massaging techniques he had learnt dealing with Jason Kane's colossal sense of self-importance. "They do you credit, and the way they honour the One True God at your bidding is a testament to your wisdom and genius as a ruler."
"Thank you, oh gift of the gods," said the Sultan, swapping plates. "Custard cream?"


With sales dropping, a departing editor and a probably closure of the publishing company, it's very likely that this is going to be the final book. You need to close things in style: a way of rounding off a series of 85 books that kept Doctor Who alive when it could have faded away; a way of saying goodbye to a character who went from a spin-off creation to become a well loved companion and then star of her own books; a way of also tying up the most expansive and apocalyptic story arc written so far in the Whoniverse. Who do you get to do it? Paul Cornell, creator of Benny? Universe-mangler Lawrence Miles? Lance Parkin, a similar writer of epic game-changers and, apparently, original creator of the Gods? Maybe Peter Darvill-Evans or Rebecca Levene, editors who kept the series afloat? No, we'll go with Mark Clapham, with a history of two co-written books, and Jon de Burgh Miller, a first time author. Bonkers.

I'll start with The Good. This has everything you'd want from the last Benny book. Benny is pretty much back to herself, and is joined by her usual crowd: Jason, Chris and Clarence are in on the action, with Emile and Braxiatel on the periphery. There's a lot of humour. The bulk of the story takes place on Dellah. Wolsey gets a mention, thankfully, meaning he's survived from Human Nature right through to the end of the NAs. Well done, that cat. It also has the kind of scope you'd hope for from a book closing the Gods arc. Brax has found a way to transport the whole of Dellah to another universe, the home of the Gods, in order to rid our universe of them and thus avoid the war about to be started by the Time Lords and People; the inhabitants of said universe (the Ferutu, first encountered in the Fifth/Seventh Doctor crossover MA Cold Fusion, apparently, although I'd forgotten as that was years ago) use this incursion as a way to attempt launching their own invasion of our universe in hope of shaping it like their own, before it began to die. The stakes are huge.

The good is, of course, always followed by the bad. And there's only really one bad here, but it's a big one. It reads like a Target novelisation. The prose is so mundane and straight-forward, the plotting bland and obvious, the guest characters one-dimensional. It could have been written by Terry Nation, with the characters arriving on Dellah and splitting into two factions: one to travel up a dangerous river and through some cavern-strewn caves to infiltrate the main base, while the other group takes the locals to war. For a book doing a big job, and playing with big ideas, it all feels bizarrely inconsequential. Which is very disappointing, really.

There's enough good in there to make it a fairly enjoyable book, especially with numerous references to past Benny adventures, and a fine ending that's part wrap-up - Benny, Emile and Chris have a new home - and part cliffhanger, with Jason still trapped into the Ferutu's dying universe. And there's the obligatory tragedy, in the form of Clarence's death, which is a genuinely upsetting moment. His character's journey, from his appearance as a mass murdering ship in The Also People to his self-sacrifice here is marvellous, and it's sad to see him go.


Bernice Summerfield: The New Adventures
And so that's it for the Benny NAs. When I initially started my Doctor Who book marathon - six years ago yesterday, in fact - I had no plans to read these, other than as a vague possibility for after I finished the main Who books. At some point, I read that they actually did have some subtle crossovers with the EDAs, and thus I placed them on the 'maybe' pile. And once I actually got to know Benny's character, I planned out exactly when to read them in line with the EDAs. And I'm incredibly glad that I did. Not only are they excellent in their own right, but they almost completely outshine the BBC Books so far. Ok, they've not all been great, but the overall quality has been far higher than either of the Who ranges to date. This is probably helped by the fact that they've almost all been written by long-time Who contributors, largely past NA writers who have a huge fondness for Benny and the other characters developed for the NA universe. There's a feeling of love and playfulness in these books that's missing from some of the Who novels, in part because they aren't just pulpy tie-in books, but their own thing. They're also generally a lot funnier, and more keen to take risks, most of which pay off. Narratively, there's a very slight touch of disappointment that not everything set up in the early books paid off: Jason's growing importance, money and survival skills seem to have been handwaved away as part of him becoming an author of erotic novels, and the Knights of Jeneve were sadly forgotten entirely, despite having a lot of worldbuilding potential. Still, the Gods arc, with the potential war between the People and Time Lords, and how that has affected the EDAs in its own way, has been generally very satisfying, even if the last few books definitely betray their origins as "oh shit we've got some more books to write". All in all, I'm incredibly glad I read them.

I gave five of the 23 books five stars:
Ship of Fools
Walking to Babylon
Where Angels Fear
Dead Romance
Tears of the Oracle

And only one of them two stars:
The Sword of Forever

Jim Mortimore, there, losing again.


It's also the end of the New Adventures in general, and with it Virgin Publishing and, effectively, Target. 25+ years of Doctor Who books come to a close. It's been a bumpy ride, with some utter crap, a lot of middling stuff, a fair few almost-but-not-quite books and a lot of utter brilliance, which seems befitting of Doctor Who. Still, for all the problems, it's been a wonderful journey, and one I've enjoyed experiencing.

I'm sad to be saying goodbye to Chris Cwej and, to an extent, Emile. But not Benny, Jason and Irving Braxiatel, who I'll be meeting again very soon over in the Doctor Who Audio Adventures thread as the most lasting legacy of the Benny NAs begins: Big Finish. This is another thing I'd got down as a 'maybe' but have now decided to just go at head on. I'm not quite sure exactly what I'll be doing about the Big Finish Benny novels yet, as narratively they take place in the ongoing BF timeline, but are... well, books. I've got them all spaced out as one Big Finish story for every two EDAs, which should mean the very end of the BBC line coincides with the first Eighth Doctor audio, which I'm sure will provide a very seamless and satisfying experience.

Next time on Doctor Who...

JamesTC

Quote from: purlieu on June 29, 2022, 04:04:20 PMThis is another thing I'd got down as a 'maybe' but have now decided to just go at head on. I'm not quite sure exactly what I'll be doing about the Big Finish Benny novels yet, as narratively they take place in the ongoing BF timeline, but are... well, books.

If you have the books, read them in the gaps of the audios. The first few series are pretty impenetrable without the books in-between.

purlieu

Ah, indeed. I was actually just referring to which thread I'll be writing about them in, haha. I have most of them as ebooks and audiobooks now, I suppose I'll see how it goes when I come to them.

purlieu


Parallel 59 by Natalie Dallaire and Stephen Cole

Natalie Dallaire is, as far as I can recall, only the second woman to write for the book ranges. Quite what range editor Stephen Cole's contributions are here remains unknown. Still, it's good to see a touch more diversity, especially on the first book of a new century. Released at the start of 2000, Parallel 59 is, regardless of its own qualities, a mini success story in itself, seeing in the second decade of Doctor Who's life on paper. It's a shame that it doesn't offer much different to the last book of the 1990s.

There are a lot of similarities between this and Frontier Worlds, from the structure - Fitz has his own self-contained story, largely told first person, with emphasis on his girlfriend(s) - to the setting - humanoids on a vague planet somewhere in the future - to the weird pacing - a lot of padding in the first half, with a very subdued threat that demands a certain amount of apathy from the reader. To be honest, the Doctor and Compassion do very little other than get locked up and deal with generic military types and rebels, none of whom have any memorable traits, or even tangible goals until the last 50 pages. It's a bit like an exceptionally bad episode of Blake's 7.

Thankfully, Fitz's story makes up for the dullness, in what appears to be the first Doctor Who story directly inspired by The Matrix. He finds himself living on a utopian convalescent world, shagging a lot, and helping his friends try and get to the central mystery of exactly where people go once they leave and go back to "Homeworld", and why there are no medical records. It's an incredibly well drawn reality, with likeable characters and a subtly accelerating creepiness to the core mystery, all told through the excellent words of a very witty companion. That said, I can't remember the last time I read an EDA in which the Doctor and Fitz are together for more than a couple of minutes.

Some twists in the final section are welcome, but sadly hurried. I love the idea that of all the daft paranoia in the military base, it's actually the guy who thinks aliens are about to invade who got it right all along, but the actual nature of the aliens and their intent is so undersold that it just feels like a bit of a cop out. Admittedly a dramatic one, with an almost near genocidal attack on the main planet, but nevertheless it seems like an afterthought.

The Doctor is... weird. He's almost clown-like at times, dancing around and telling bad jokes. I half expected him to start playing the spoons and speaking in mixed metaphors, to be honest. Compassion has some good moments, but still isn't quite living up to her potential.

In better news, it seems like the circle motif on the covers is pretty much retired by this point. Although this cover is pretty nondescript.

Next time on Doctor Who... hurray, it's Paul Cornell!

Quote from: purlieu on July 06, 2022, 11:08:56 PM
Parallel 59 by Natalie Dallaire and Stephen Cole

Natalie Dallaire is, as far as I can recall, only the second woman to write for the book ranges. Quite what range editor Stephen Cole's contributions are here remains unknown. Still, it's good to see a touch more diversity, especially on the first book of a new century. Released at the start of 2000, Parallel 59 is, regardless of its own qualities, a mini success story in itself, seeing in the second decade of Doctor Who's life on paper. It's a shame that it doesn't offer much different to the last book of the 1990s.

There are a lot of similarities between this and Frontier Worlds, from the structure - Fitz has his own self-contained story, largely told first person, with emphasis on his girlfriend(s) - to the setting - humanoids on a vague planet somewhere in the future - to the weird pacing - a lot of padding in the first half, with a very subdued threat that demands a certain amount of apathy from the reader. To be honest, the Doctor and Compassion do very little other than get locked up and deal with generic military types and rebels, none of whom have any memorable traits, or even tangible goals until the last 50 pages. It's a bit like an exceptionally bad episode of Blake's 7.

Thankfully, Fitz's story makes up for the dullness, in what appears to be the first Doctor Who story directly inspired by The Matrix. He finds himself living on a utopian convalescent world, shagging a lot, and helping his friends try and get to the central mystery of exactly where people go once they leave and go back to "Homeworld", and why there are no medical records. It's an incredibly well drawn reality, with likeable characters and a subtly accelerating creepiness to the core mystery, all told through the excellent words of a very witty companion. That said, I can't remember the last time I read an EDA in which the Doctor and Fitz are together for more than a couple of minutes.

Some twists in the final section are welcome, but sadly hurried. I love the idea that of all the daft paranoia in the military base, it's actually the guy who thinks aliens are about to invade who got it right all along, but the actual nature of the aliens and their intent is so undersold that it just feels like a bit of a cop out. Admittedly a dramatic one, with an almost near genocidal attack on the main planet, but nevertheless it seems like an afterthought.

The Doctor is... weird. He's almost clown-like at times, dancing around and telling bad jokes. I half expected him to start playing the spoons and speaking in mixed metaphors, to be honest. Compassion has some good moments, but still isn't quite living up to her potential.

In better news, it seems like the circle motif on the covers is pretty much retired by this point. Although this cover is pretty nondescript.

Next time on Doctor Who... hurray, it's Paul Cornell!

No idea of the specific details, but I have a feeling this is a case where the original author was unable to complete her book so Cole stepped in to polish-up the manuscript into something publishable.

It's another of those ones where I know on an intellectual level that I read it but couldn't tell you a single detail of the plot beyond that, unfortunately there's a fair few EDAs like that.

I'm keen to hear what you think of the Cornell book, as sets up an interesting new status quo going forward but also contains some developments for a recurring character that are a bit divisive, I'm sure you'll see what I mean.

crankshaft

I remember both thinking this was somewhat bland but also quite enjoying it because the Fitz parts were very good.

Apparently Natalie Dallaire got pregnant after being commissioned and couldn't finish the book, so Steve Cole stepped in to help. There were rumours it was yet another pseudonym for him (he's also Tara Samms and Michael Collier) but he has refuted this.

Bad Ambassador

I bought and ploughed through all the BBC Books during the early 2000s, sometimes at the rate of two a week, and this is one of many I remember nothing about.

Fitz plot/mystery - great
rest - Blakes 7

Net positive, I think.

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Quote from: crankshaft on July 07, 2022, 10:40:35 AMApparently Natalie Dallaire got pregnant after being commissioned

she's lying then because that's not how babies are made

George White

Has anyone read the latest Doctor Who Chronicles -1967 mag?
Fascinated that the BBC/Shaun Sutton seriously considering replacing Dr Who with Bonaventure, a title that fans new of for a long time but knew nothing about other than it was commissioned for a pilot that was written and probably lost.
Turns out it was a series based on the character of Sr. Mary Bonaventure, from Charlotte Hastings' 1940s play Bonaventure, adapted for TV and radio several times, but in 1951 adapted by Universal Pictures as Thunder on the Hill, with Claudette Colbert as Bonaventure, and Ann Blyth as the convicted murderess Valerie (Sarat in the play) whom she much prove is innocent of the murder of her pianist brother.
Having seen the film several times (it's set in a lovely Universal backlot gothic depiction of Norfolk, with the two American-accented leads constantly talking about Norwich) I can almost see how it would have translated. There is something about the nun-run country hospital that reminds me of Applehurst, the fictitious 1960s BBC soap opera in The Killing of Sister George. There is an ensemble cast (The Mother Superior, the slow-witted young helper Willie)...
The recent Sr. Boniface Mysteries on britbox feels like a lighter, whimsical spin on a similar central idea.

George White

Quote from: Bad Ambassador on June 25, 2022, 09:33:40 PMThis was immediately post-Give My Regards to Broad Street, so they probably thought he would be both cheap and available.

They repeatedly tried to cast Roger Daltrey around that time - he was considered for Glitz in Trial and the Deputy Chief in Paradise Towers, and I think offered the role of Sharaz Jek after they got a no from Bowie's people. I think it was just for the Who connection.
He turned down the Deputy Chief, apparently.
The thing is, Daltrey did do a few kids TV acting gigs - How to be Cool (which alas also featured Paul Gadd), and the Buddy serials/film. Later did the Bill. US  telefantasy Appearances in Highlander, Sliders, Lois and Clark, Witchblade, Tales from the Crypt

purlieu


The Shadows of Avalon by Paul Cornell

The reason I tend to enjoy high fantasy is because of the scope: the huge imagination that goes into world building, the usual threatened large-scale destruction, the vastness of it all. On the same level, I tend to dislike swords & sorcery fantasy because it so often lacks imagination, frequently relying on very obvious tropes. Doctor Who has done fantasy a few times in its books now, with varying levels of success. Strangely, I think my favourite might be Bulis's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, in which the mythical beasts and wizards and such are treated as suspect from the word go, and the main plot is a quest to find out what the fuck's going on. None of it can be real, because dragons and suchlike don't exist.

The Shadows of Avalon is set in a dream world where Celts and Faeries live among dragons and wizards. The Time Lords helped the Celts build this world to escape the Romans. And while I actually enjoyed quite a lot of this book, I can't get past this premise. It's really, really shit. Yes, having the Brigadier and UNIT soldiers take part in a war that threatens to destroy a fantastical land has a lot of potential. But the concept behind Avalon is just utterly terrible. It isn't helped by the first half of the book in particular being full of really tedious wizards and Faeries and sword fights and stuff. It turns out the Faeries are actually Silurians for... reasons. Ugh. The book also features two villains so utterly camp in their villainy that they feel like they stepped right out of an episode of Bananaman.

The good thing is that everything else in the book is good. After a lot of faffing about, this is the book that basically confirms that the BBC range shares the same continuity as the Virgin NAs, with the Brig remembering his body being restored to a younger age during the events of Benny and Jason's wedding in Happy Endings; Cornell uses Faction Paradox meddling to handwave away the scene of the Doctor remembering his father in The Eight Doctors. Clearly this appeals to me a lot. Anyway, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart's novel, really. He blames himself for the recent death of his wife, and being the Brig, is totally unable to deal with his grief in a sensible manner, maintaining a stiff upper lip and taking his anger out on everyone else. His redemption story is lovely, and the heart of the novel.

The blurb on the back cover describes the book as the end of one chapter in the Eighth Doctor's life and the start of another. And that is, apparently, the actual destruction of his TARDIS. I spent the most of the book wondering what technobabble would appear to bring it back. And then...
Quote from: purlieu on June 26, 2022, 06:58:54 PMI think I've figured out who she actually is; I suppose I'll find out in a few books time.
Turns out I was correct. The whole fantasy setting is a background not only for a lovely Brigadier story, but a ruthless and very convoluted plot by Romana III, President of Gallifrey, who has sent two Time Lord Interventionists to basically complete Compassion's metamorphosis into a TARDIS. Which would have come more out of the blue had we not met Homonculette and his Type 103 humanoid TARDIS Marie in Alien Bodies and The Taking of Planet 5. It's still bloody weird, especially as the book ends with the Doctor and Fitz travelling through time inside of Compassion. Something tells me this won't be permanent.

It's a Paul Cornell book, so the writing is descriptive, witty, generally very enjoyable. He writers the Doctor pretty well, while Fitz and Compassion are left to a subplot for the majority of the book, although both seem on form. The Brig is fantastic, and while it's uncomfortable seeing his darker side, the frankly horrible version of Romana here is really unpleasant.

So, a mixed bag, but more on the positive side than not, and clearly a game changer of a novel.

Next time on Doctor Who... Nick Walters, an author I have absolutely no image of in my head at all.

samadriel

The idiotic Time Lord agents screeching "Stayin' Alive!" for no reason is burned into my brain. "Fae are Silurians" is also an awful idea, completely unconvincing. This book put me off Paul Cornell until he adapted Human Nature, which was very, VERY easily the best two episodes of RTD's era.


Yeah,

the Fae are silurians - nope.
The book also features two villains so utterly camp in their villainy that they feel like they stepped right out of an episode of Bananaman. - they're very sub-par Tarantino. So, nope.

QuoteWhich would have come more out of the blue had we not met Homonculette and his Type 103 humanoid TARDIS Marie in Alien Bodies and The Taking of Planet 5.

There's also bits in Parallel 59 and Frontier Worlds that have Compassion doing odd timey spacey things.

Next four books are a mini-arc including one of the single worst books of the line ...

Also, its a wyvern on the front page.

Catalogue Trousers

Quote from: purlieu on July 09, 2022, 11:27:05 PMNext time on Doctor Who... Nick Walters, an author I have absolutely no image of in my head at all.


Nick's a fairly long-term friend of mine. He's remarkably self-effacing about most of his Who books: he was apparently asked to write 'The Fall Of Yquatine', a bit further down the line, when a previous book fell through and a novel was needed at short notice. Like Terrance Dicks, I guess, he doesn't regard his writing as high art, but as decent workmanship which can be produced at very high speed if needed. I kind of like him for that. (And much of his work is better than 'okay').

Catalogue Trousers

Quote from: A Hat Like That on July 11, 2022, 10:52:39 AMThe book also features two villains so utterly camp in their villainy that they feel like they stepped right out of an episode of Bananaman. - they're very sub-par Tarantino. So, nope.


I always got the feeling that Paul was trying to portray them as an evil Steed and Peel. However, as purlieu and samadriel rightly observe, they're played so camply and over-the-top that they just end up irritating more than anything else.

As for the book itself, I've got somewhat mixed feelings on it. All of the 'faerie folk' stuff just makes me roll my eyes, but Paul has largely reined in his self-indulgence (those awful Time Lord special agents aside) and bothered to make his characters characters, rathr than ciphers-cum-pop-culture-gags. It's perhaps best summed up as an honourable effort.

Psybro

I think I skimmed Shadows of Avalon in Ottakers or something, I just remember it containing the line "Madam President, kiss my TARDIS" and that's enough really.

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Catalogue Trousers

Heh! Well, he may not be as wildly inventive as Lawrence Miles or Paul Magrs, but he's a genuinely enjoyable writer still.

purlieu


The Fall of Yquatine by Nick Walters

I see we're back to the circles again.

Well, he did a pretty good job for a last minute fill-in story. The Fall of Yquatine is a pretty large scale story, set in a solar system inhabited by a large number of species who all get along rather well, helped along by a peace treaty that's been celebrated. On the centenary Treaty Day, a mysterious black cloud takes over and destroys all life on the planet. I suppose the title's a bit of a giveaway, but it's still a remarkably bold book that wipes out an entire planet in its opening section. After this, the Doctor, Fitz and Compassion get separated in time, and we follow the tale from different angles.

Fitz has some very good stuff, living on Yquatine in the month leading up to Treaty Day and desperately trying to get away while debating whether to tell anyone that the entire world will be dead in a few weeks. He manages to fall in love with someone, again, and she dies, again. This time it's the President's girlfriend and, as a result, he ends up in prison for much of his spell. The now TARDISified Compassion has been fitted with a Randomiser without her permission, and spends the book in pain, trying to work out how to deal with it. Apparently it takes her decades in her own time to get back to Fitz, which is quite bleak in itself. The Doctor, sadly, despite a few small rescues here and there, turns out to be largely superfluous to the story once again, other than indirectly causing the entire thing to happen by forcing the Randomiser on Compassion in the first place and thus setting in motion the various threads a month in the past. He mostly flails around, and the destruction of the villain and stopping of a potential future conflict happen without his help.

There are underdeveloped ideas - Arielle, a key character for several reasons, starts very strong but turns into a plot device; Fitz's month in prison, awaiting the destruction of the planet, has more potential than a single chapter; similarly, Compassion's decades of travelling are almost entirely unseen - but I suppose that makes sense given the book's origins as a last minute replacement. The overall story and scope of the book are very enjoyable, anyway.

Next time on Doctor Who... Trevor Baxendale returns. Here's hoping he can do better than his debut novel.

crankshaft

Ah yes, the infamous "the Doctor effectively rapes Compassion" book. And sadly that's all I can remember about this one.

purlieu

I also forgot to mention the moment where Fitz is terrified that the girl he fancies "used to be a man". I know, character from the early '60s in a book written in 1999, but it's still a bit of a shame after some relatively decent attitudes towards trans issues from Dave Stone and Kate Orman in past books.

Alberon

I think its a reasonable response for a character from the sixties. In all honesty he'd probably be fairly unenlightened in regards to gay people as well. It needs to be written well to show it isn't the proper response, though I've no idea if it done so here as I haven't read the book since release.

As mentioned in the Doctor Who rewatch thread RTD often writes his characters as imperfect, Rose's self-absorption for instance.

purlieu

It wouldn't have bothered me in one of his earlier stories, but by this point he's already checking out blue skinned aliens so has a certain amount of enlightenment. The idea that fancying a different species is somehow less disturbing than fancying a trans person isn't ideal. It hardly ruined the book or his character, I just made a mental note of it as it just seeming a bit unnecessary, I suppose.

Catalogue Trousers

Quote from: Alberon on July 13, 2022, 10:32:18 PMI think its a reasonable response for a character from the sixties. In all honesty he'd probably be fairly unenlightened in regards to gay people as well. It needs to be written well to show it isn't the proper response, though I've no idea if it done so here as I haven't read the book since release.

As mentioned in the Doctor Who rewatch thread RTD often writes his characters as imperfect, Rose's self-absorption for instance.

Exactly. Fitz isn't a Big Damn Hero, in fact some of the time he's a bit of a prat. And it's not as if he then goes on some big transphobic rant. It's a quick moment to show Fitz that the Universe can always surprise him, much as he loves to fantasise about himself as some in-control, Bondian figure - and that he's flawed enough that his responses won't always necessarily be something that we feel entirely in sympathy with.

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Quote from: purlieu on July 13, 2022, 10:48:14 PMIt wouldn't have bothered me in one of his earlier stories, but by this point he's already checking out blue skinned aliens so has a certain amount of enlightenment. The idea that fancying a different species is somehow less disturbing than fancying a trans person isn't ideal. It hardly ruined the book or his character, I just made a mental note of it as it just seeming a bit unnecessary, I suppose.

Wasn't it more that she kept the jar with her cock in it in her bed inside a hot water bottle cover?

purlieu


Coldheart by Trevor Baxendale

If you're going to do a book where the mystery turns out to be a big carnivorous monster deep in the ice, don't put a cover like that on it. When I read The Bodysnatchers, it was an ebook, and I didn't take too much notice of the cover, so the Zygon reveal was surprising to me. This time, spying the cover every time I picked up my book, I just spent a lot of the story counting down to the big reveal.

Coldheart opens with the TARDIS crew arriving in a mine, and Fitz being bitten by a bat-like creature. Meanwhile, political shenanigans are going on in the city above ground. So far, so Androzani. But then it does a left turn and becomes The Mutants. The desert race are gradually turning into weird slimy creatures, and these "slimers" are exiled out of the city, setting up camp outside and causing major strife. Those left in this city have contempt for them. There's also suspicion of aliens and, thus, our regulars, and a band of slimers aiming to blow up the mines.

It's as trad as they come, really. But it's a really nicely written book, set on a believable world, with a few decent characters (as well as some dull ones). Since Fitz joined the TARDIS, the general quality of the EDAs has gone up, and it isn't completely down to him being a thousand times more enjoyable a character than Sam. This is another story that in itself isn't especially memorable or original, but just a solid yarn that's fun to read. Fitz himself falls for a girl who dies, which admittedly is getting pretty tiresome. The Doctor, on the other hand, is on form here, and actually does a lot to save the day for once. Compassion is growing ever-stronger, her metamorphosis having changed her character into a wryly sarcastic foil for both the Doctor and Fitz.

All in all, a pleasant romp.

Next time on Doctor Who... Steve Lyons, an author who has yet to disappoint me in his Doctor Who work, although will never be forgiven for his public dislike of the Red Dwarf Smeg Ups tapes.