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Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 8/9/16 12:02 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Isn’t it odd that Doctor Who has never really done crime drama before? I mean they’ve done mysteries with stories like All-Consuming Fire, but never really anything with a crime drama formula that has worked well. I mean The Twin Dilemma may have thought it was crime drama but other than that nothing really present in Doctor Who. That makes it all the more odd that Andy Lane’s third novel, Original Sin, decides to go down this route for its story which makes it become another in the streak of great novels that has been flowing from story to story. The plot sees the Doctor and Benny go to thirtieth century Earth after failing to save a dying Hith, a giant slug species subjugated by humanity that have been using passive resistance by changing their names to reflect the species’ situation. It’s a really clever idea and I credit Lane with making it work well. Anyway the story has two main plots with the prologue with the Hith’s passive resistance leading to riots while the second plot is several characters investigating a Hith’s death which is just the opening to a large conspiracy with the twist that the Doctor and Benny are incriminated as murderers as someone has messed with a mind probe record of the death to see they were the murderers by Adjudicator Roz Forrester and her squire Chris Cwej who will eventually become the new companions as someone has to replace Ace. The end of the conspiracy reveals our villain who I won’t spoil if you do not know who the villain is already as the twist is well set up.





Most of the novel focuses on Roz and Chris as they are to become the new companions which is a good idea and allows Lane to have fun with the whole good cop, bad cop dynamic. Roz is an Adjudicator whose partner was murdered by an alien making her slightly xenophobic. She is a logical and experienced Adjudicator who is almost your stereotypical cop as she has a sense of justice but knows that people can be bribed. Roz gets the better dynamic with Benny of the two as they both have dark paths and have good senses of humor. Chris Cwej on the other hand is the opposite of her as Chris is the new cop on the block who is all wide eyed and ready to get to work. He is amazed by the technology of the world, will frequently use that technology in the fads like body bepples which basically makes him look like a teddy bear for most of the novel and is a skilled pilot. He also has a strong sense of justice and what I like about the relationship between the two is that they are purely business partners here and have nothing going for them. Roz begrudgingly respects Chris as she sees a bit of herself in him and doesn’t want to see him go through the same loss she went through when she was starting out.





Benny here is filling the usual companion role with all the charm of Benny. Even though it hasn’t really happened the stuff Benny does in the novel feels like things that Benny would do as character as the thirtieth century is actually in her future so she doesn’t know what to expect. She isn’t xenophobic which just shows how times can change with the times and events happening around the galaxy. The Doctor is also great here as he gets himself arrested and has to find a way to convince Chris and Roz that he and Benny are both innocent of murder and shouldn’t be put to death even though he ends up breaking several other laws which is great as they are silly laws. The villain is also great as it is a return from the Classic Series with the reveal that he has been the one funding basically every plot that has involved some sort of robot in the shows history which I find fascinating and extremely plausible. Once you know who the villain is you will probably agree with me about this fact as well. The other characters are also great with the Hith being a great alien race miles above the gastropods seen in The Twin Dilemma and Beltempest is another character who is the head of another agency who is being paid off by the villain. Beltempest is our comedic relief as he has gotten himself a body bepple so he can look like an elephant which is hilarious to imagine.
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Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 8/3/16 7:28 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Off the bat, Revelation does not feel like the preceding three novels - like 'that one Big Finish story', this is the one that finally delivered the promise of going far beyond the remit of the show and using the format to its advantage. This is a story entirely suited to literature, and as such feels like a well worn glove: this is first and foremost a piece of literature, not a hack novelised script. Without spoiling plot elements, Revelation is as surreal (actually moreso) than the bonkers front cover... sentient architecture; mind bending travels; butchery (of characters you really won't expect!) and heavy canon. Whilst throwing in the odd past Doctor and past companions, Revelation teeters on the edge of needless fan-service but never quite reaches the excesses of fan fiction. This is namely due to an expert use of the literary form to explore the Doctor and Ace's psyche, as well as attempting to tackle some ethical qualms unaddressed on the show. Again, spoiler-light, but lets just say RTD's work in Journey's End doesn't appear half as original after a read of Timewyrm 4. Tangentially, bonus points for 'fear makes companions of us all' ripped wholesale and stuck into Listen. I'm convinced this cannot be a coincidence.

My issue with Timewyrm Revelation however is that Paul Cornell is juggling a tonnage of plot twists and characters, occasionally losing focus on the greatest strength of the book, aforementioned mature introspection of Ace and her relationship with the Doctor and her own past. Cornell writes about Hemmings (needlessly brought back from Exodus), 'only a sense of what he wasn't defined him', and by jingo can this be bounced back onto Mr. Cornell. Rather than tackling the juicy character drama, we trundle off towards the latter half of the book to reaffirm a series of political diatribes. We're reminded (relentlessly) that the Nazi's weren't a barrel of laughs; reminded (heavy handedly) that racism inflicts cruel emotional damage and that rape is terrible. It's bizarre to see Mr. Cornell make some heartfelt and really memorably tactful observations on bullying, before untactfully wasting time reaffirming basic morality.

This dichotomy gets even more distinct when cutting from insightful character drama to the fascist world of... Britain in the mid-1980's... Cornell goes on multiple diatribes, alluding to the Thatcher government being of a racist character; generalising and caricaturing working classes on an evening out as well as Freudian slips preaching the glories of the undergraduate, and their romantic isolation from the classes they used to belong to. To say this is a psychoanalysis masquerading as a Doctor Who adventure, Paul Cornell's ticks and opinions, for better and worse, frequent the book and for me personally, interrupted.

Whilst stabbing at some real tactful observations, Revelation goes off on diatribes. Whilst attempting to ground the character drama, characters are rigidly distinct by class: graduate-types (infallible and quirky); working-classes (moronic, racialist, rape-apologisers and anti-intellectuals) and 'the rest' (wacky Douglas Adamsesque talking buildings; nazis; doom-mongering zombies). It's a story where brutal, night-on sadistic child violence takes place mere pages before wacky hyjinx straight from the Key to Time. Where a beautiful exploration of bullying takes place pages before personal diatribes with all the subtlety of a HGV in a China Shop!

It may appear that I've been overly critical - when Revelation hits home it'll have you laughing, skin-crawling and forced to sit back and mull over a poignant point. When Revelations misses it'll have you frustrated, be-muzzled, eye-rolling and uncomfortable. It's a noble experiment that for the most part works, and is a massive leap forward in the VNA's. It's also, as is the point of experiments, a learning experience. In attempting to have its cake and eat it, too many ideas jostle for too little place. Tone shifts jar, shocks may go too far and become needlessly cruel.

It aint' perfect, but its a weird, brave and bold book and well worth your time!
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Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 7/24/16 3:54 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

If you have been a follower of my blog and reviews you will notice that it only took me two days to get through the novels Blood Harvest and Goth Opera. In my review of Goth Opera I thought something similar wouldn’t happen again, but of course I was wrong. Yes just a day after reading Dancing the Code, I was able to complete the next novel Human Nature and boy what a novel it was. This is Paul Cornell’s fifth novel, and fourth Virgin New Adventure and is often cited as one of the best in the range with good reason as it is added on to the very short list of five now six perfect novels. This is the one novel that had been adapted for the television series in the two part Human Nature/The Family of Blood for Series 3. I will get to a review of that later, but first I have to go over why the novel Human Nature is one of the absolute best Virgin New Adventures.





The plot of the novel begins shortly after the events of Sanctuary where the Doctor finds a device that could make him human so as to better understand Benny. They land at a school for boys in 1914 in the time period right before the outbreak of World War I where the Doctor becomes Dr. John Smith a history teacher and Benny just lives in the village. It is revealed however that the pod that made the Doctor a human being was placed in the marketplace as a way for the Aubertides, a family of aliens who reproduce by budding, to track down a Time Lord so they can gain the power of immortality. They invade the school and chaos ensues with Smith falling in love with science teacher Joan Redford. Benny is the one who has to protect John Smith following his list of instructions as the pod containing the Doctor was stolen by a bullied student Timothy Dean who gets informed on what he has to do by the mind within the pod. Cornell’s plot is first and foremost an emotional one as characters build these deep relationships over the nine week period between the prologue and Chapter 1. There is also a second half with high action and subplots involving the Eternal Death who makes a deal with the Doctor to have John Smith when the Time Lord returns and with Timothy as a way to get what she wants and so he can see the future.





Yes John Smith and the Doctor are two very different characters who have the same ideals but go about their actions in very different ways. John Smith is what the Doctor would be if he was a human being as he doesn’t want to see people get hurt. He makes a real connection with these kids in the same way as the film Dead Poet’s Society. He gives Tim life advice, but it is awful as he is trying to fit in with the other teachers at the school who are undeniably British. He also doesn’t want to become the Doctor at the end of the novel as he knows he will no longer be himself even when he sees what will become of Gallifrey and Romana and Flavia along with it who both are executed by the Aubertides for not giving up the Time Lord’s secrets which is very selfish. This is in stark contrast to the Doctor who actually becomes the selfless one as he makes sure everyone gets through history which still causes him emotional trauma. They both work as characters and show exactly why the Doctor cannot be a human being.





Benny and Joan are also foil characters for this novel as Joan is Smith’s companion to the novel where she is kind of helpless as she is a woman. Benny calls Joan a racist which is apt for the time period as she doesn’t like anyone of color, African, Asian, Indian or otherwise. Joan is the complete product of the time while Benny sees past the pasts problems. Benny is paired up with a gay man called Alexander Shuttleworth who is having a relationship with another man and she doesn’t care. She supports the suffragette movement and when two of the Aubertides claim to be the Tenth Doctor and a companion, she is the one who sees through it while Joan just wants to give them what they want and have her happy little life with John Smith. Alexander is a great sidekick as he is going against the early twentieth century stereotype of gay people as he is the courageous one while others are cowardly to fight.





Now let’s talk about Tim who has his own subplot which begins with the other boys having a fake trial and actually hanging him with a noose while others look on and watch because he seems to be a coward. He actually dies and Death gives him his life back so she can have the life force of John Smith. Tim is also the only rational one as he doesn’t know how to deal with bullies in the best way as he has a friend to help him through. Cornell points this out especially as one friend or ally is all that it really takes to be able to get through it. Tim’s little arc is great as he earns the respect of the others in his dorm through the story while the bullies lose any respect. Finally let’s talk about the villains who are evil incarnate. They want to be immortal and will kill anyone who gets in their way. Heck they set off a fusion bomb just so they can try and get the Time Lord essence. Here unlike the television adaptation they are all killed, one by a Time Lord who was already on the campus of the school. They are also more creepy here as they all sort of act almost human, but not quite.
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Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 7/6/16 12:56 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

This may be David A. McIntee’s best novel yet as he actually gets a chance to write what seems to be his ideal Doctor Who story, a Hartnell Historical. I mean look at his track record. White Darkness was a novel that primarily involved a revolution in Haiti with the Lovecraftian horror being an afterthought. This was similar to his second novel First Frontier which is a novel involving the Roswell Aliens of the 1950s conspiracy with the plot involving the Master to be an afterthought. McIntee loves his historical settings and writing a story without any real alien presence involved is the perfect fit for him to flesh out some honestly great characters making Sanctuary be the Virgin New Adventures equivalent of The Aztecs. I will get to the powerful ending of the novel later on, but first the plot.





The story opens with the TARDIS going through a part of space where they get pulled into a dark star which causes the TARDIS interior to slowly jump forward in time by about three seconds. This causes the Doctor and Benny to have to take the Jade Pagoda from Iceberg to the nearest inhabitable planet for about three weeks so the TARDIS can get through the dark star and they can continue on their journey. They end up landing in France during the Albigensian Crusade where they get wrapped up in the time period. The Doctor plays the detective for a murder while Benny falls in love with mercenary Guy de Carnac as they try to sneak heretics into the Roc which will be sanctuary. This plot would be the weakest aspect of the novel if it wasn’t for the fact that McIntee has done so much research to make the novel feel so real on every page and he wrote in an ending that just works like a Shakespearean tragedy.





McIntee also excels at writing the Doctor who just feels like he is the Doctor in this story. This time he has no master plan, no evil deity to destroy, just people that need helping out and he is going to be the one to do it. He is confident in Benny now that Ace is gone and nothing is there to drag them down and they’re allowed to be friends again. He also has become a happier person as he loves finally finding some excitement with the dark star being something he actually didn’t know about. He is also great at getting himself in with the higher ups much in the fashion of how the Second Doctor confused the jailor in The War Games by acting all important without actually having any authority over the situation. He would be the best part of the story if it wasn’t for Benny just being so well written. Here she wants to stop the Spanish Inquisition on supposed heretics as she believes in freedom of religion and will do anything in her power to make that happen. She ends up falling in love with Guy de Carnac in this story which McIntee paints beautifully. They don’t fall in love instantly, but let everything develop over the course of the story.





The supporting characters also feel very real for the time, especially Guzman who is a man aspiring to become the next Pope. He is the real villain of the story and McIntee is clearly having a blast writing for his character. I also have to make mention of Jeanne who isn’t very special until she is burned alive where we actually get to see the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition and the Church performed at this time. Hughes is another heretic who gets great development as he is a very rational one. The supporting character who steals the show however is Guy de Carnac. De Carnac is a man who has struggled with his faith after actually being with the Knights Templar who also have a presence in the story. He disagrees with what the Church does to the heretics who don’t agree with what they teach. Carnac is also a soldier as he has to take the heretics who are mainly farmers and make them an army which is a great portion of the novel.





Now I have to talk about that ending. It rivals The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve in how it comes out of nowhere and makes the story even better than it already was. Everything is solved, the TARDIS is back and the Doctor and Benny are ready to leave when they are ambushed by the Templars who kill everyone who was good in this story. The Doctor offers to take Guy with them, but he stays behind to fight the Templars off trying to get Benny to safety whom he loves. He dies which causes Benny to go into a depression as lead in to the next novel, Paul Cornell’s Human Nature.

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