Reviewed By: newt5996
Review Date: 5/28/16 8:24 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
This may be just a reaction to how much I hated Strange England, but I found First Frontier to be a nice slice of traditional pseudo-historical storytelling to keep me in the mood to read the Virgin New Adventures. David A McIntee pours his heart and soul into making a period of history come to life with meticulous details that have been checked and double checked for accuracy. It happened in White Darkness and it happens here as well as McIntee puts the TARDIS crew in a situation to solve a mystery. Here however it is to solve the mysteries of the alien abduction stories from the 1950s. Yes we are smack dab in the middle of the Second Red Scare where everyone you knew had to be a Communist Spy or had been abducted by aliens. The period has always been fascinating for me and to see it come to life with such accuracy to detail is really quite refreshing.
The plot involves the Doctor, Ace and Benny arriving in New Mexico where they get wrapped in a government conspiracy as the United States government, the Central Intelligence Agency and the FBI have been broiled with the Tzun, a fascinating alien race whom I will get to in a second and of course the Master, post-Survival. That premise alone is enough to get you hooked on the novel right from the start and honestly it helps keep the story moving along at a nice pace. Being set on a government base for much of the novel allows for some classic interrogation scenes where McIntee shows exactly how well he characterizes the Seventh Doctor. The Doctor is great at giving witty responses to the questioning tactics. There are even explanations to why aliens in the movies are depicted as grey. The Tzun are a fascinating alien race. Imagine the Sontarans taken to one thousand and you have the vicinity of what the Tzun are. I especially find the way they speak a refreshing change from what we usually get from alien races. The characterization of Ace and Benny are also great as they are nearly polar opposites that somehow work together really well. Benny gets some great moments as she is still pretty unfamiliar to the culture of the time and her reactions to what people think of aliens is pretty funny. The Master is the only other decent part of the novel as McIntee captures Ainleyâs portrayal from Survival perfectly especially considering he is degenerating into a Cheetah person.
The biggest problems with this novel is its supporting cast who are either comical stereotypes or forgettable. Yes there are some good moments with them, but they are few and far between. The pacing also has some odd moments especially as the novel is beginning. It feels like McIntee is trying to imitate the style of Season 26 with the Doctor jumping right into the story, but it feels a bit off. The pacing also slows down towards the end causing a few more problems.