Reviewed By: newt5996
Review Date: 6/6/16 6:39 pm
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Now I like Jim Mortimore as much as the next guy. Lucifer Rising and Blood Heat were two great novels, so my standards were automatically raised as he is such a good writer. This isn’t really the case for his third novel, Parasite, which is barely passable as good. It is the one novel that even Mortimore doesn’t like. The novel isn’t that bad, but it isn’t that good either and it even starts off pretty decently. The plot sees the Doctor, Ace and Benny landing on the Artifact in the Elysium system which is a planet that is inside out literally as the surface is the core and the core is the surface. The laws of gravity don’t apply and there is already a scientific research base on the planet along with a plethora of alien life. Not all is well on this planet as the native species of somewhat intelligent monkeys are committing suicide for no apparent reason, octopus-like aliens that are sucking blood from people and there are parasitic creatures killing people. People are searching for Mark Bannen, son of Alex Bannen from Lucifer Rising, who had gone missing and everything comes to a head when the Doctor finds out that, over fifteen years before Kill the Moon pulled this twist, the planet is an egg. The story then takes a turn to a survival tale as the Doctor not only tries to save all the monkeys while killing the egg, but tries to get back to the TARDIS so they can move on.
This story’s biggest flaw is it isn’t focused on one element. I see what Mortimore was trying to do in trying to make a spiritual successor or even a sequel to his debut novel Lucifer Rising, which already had a few problems. Very early on in the novel it becomes clear that Mortimore has given up in trying to make the story a sequel, but spinning it off in a different direction. This isn’t the audience misinterpreting intentions of novel, it is Mortimore actively changing the direction of his narrative without very little editing. He instead changes to a straight hard science fiction plot with some great ideas, but not enough cohesion to keep it going. So this brings down a lot of what the novel has going for it.
This isn’t the case for the characters as even with the massive plot shift, Mortimore does excellently in creating his characters. The Doctor is barely in the novel and when he is he is kept in the background which works for the best as Mortimore is working more with his side characters. He works best with Ace of all characters in the novel. Now her subplot is extremely weak if it weren’t for her connections with the character of Drew who is an epileptic space traveler who doesn’t want to be tied down. While their relationship is not a romantic one they grow to understand each other over the course of the novel as they realize they have some of the same motivations. Ace has always had bravado and Drew has always been a coward so as opposites they really get an interesting dynamic.
The way Mortimore uses Benny is also great as she is paired with Midnight who was once human but has been changed into a blob like creature which just adds to the alien atmosphere. Benny also has to use her archeological skills to communicate with the monkeys which has some great features. Midnight is also interesting as he has amnesia and doesn’t understand humanity any longer. The other characters in the story also suffer as they really don’t have much to do in the actual plot. They are all there just so we can get the plot moving along and I honestly can’t remember. Another problem with the novel is its pacing due to the radical plot shift as it starts out good but then slows down to fit a rather large page count.