Ace is worried. The Doctor is not himself. Not wishing to
be a manipulator any longer, he just wants to relax and visit
old friends. His next port of call is Heritage, a dry, dusty
colony world whose people guard a secret. But secrets have
a way of unearthing themselves when the Doctor is around,
even when he doesn't want them to...
is a frontier settlement very much in the style of the Old
West - a once prosperous mining colony whose fortunes have
taken a turn for the worse. There's a saloon with old-fashioned
swing doors (although the barman has a cybernetic arm), an
alcoholic sheriff, and a surly gunslinger.
this instance, though, the gunslinger in question is a dolphin
called Bernard, who does his strutting and posturing by the
use of a mechanised walker. Dolphins with walkers and translators,
which enable them to interact with human beings, have previously
featured in Robert Perry and Mike Tucker's Storm Harvest.
But Bernard's anti-social attitude means that he has more
in common with Steve Lyons' vicious Selachians, who featured
in The Murder Game and The Final Sanction. This
cetacean is a real nasty piece of work, despising other dolphins
for their peaceful ways, which he sees as signs of weakness.
However, an annoying habit of Dale Smith's writing is his
tendency to refer to Bernard as a fish - dolphins are not
fish; they are mammals.
more commendable aspect of the novel is the author's recognition
of the fact that Ace still carries the influence of the Cheetah
People with her following her experiences in Survival.
Whenever she becomes tense or when danger lurks, Ace's cat-like
instincts rise to the surface, and occasionally she has to
fight the urge to growl like a predator. As far as I can recall,
no other author writing for this era of Who has thought
to acknowledge this factor.
pace of the story is often a little too sedate for its own
good, but this novel does contain some intriguing ideas, at
least one of which is likely to raise a few eyebrows. These
include the unusual notion of a lethargic Seventh Doctor,
presumably following the harsh criticisms that were levelled
at him during Mark Michalowski's Relative Dementias.
be misled by the deceptive cover illustration, however - there
are no Star Wars Sarlaccs in this book!
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