BOOK
Doctor Who
Loving the Alien

Authors: Robert Perry & Mike Tucker
BBC Books
RRP 5.99, US $6.95, Cdn $8.99
ISBN 0 563 48604 X
Available now


The Doctor knows that Ace is going to die. In London, 1959, he does all he can to prevent her death, but in the process he discovers further anomalies: swarms of giant ants, an astronaut from another dimension, and a disturbing fetish for cyber-conversion...

Loving the Alien starts out as a rather garbled mixture of elements. Perry and Tucker follow up the prediction of Ace's death in Tucker's solo novel Prime Time, while also cramming in gigantic ants, augmented apes, James Dean, and the exploitation of cyber-technology left behind from the Cybermen's invasion in the authors' earliest collaboration, Illegal Alien. Indeed, this book is a partial sequel to Illegal Alien, and also features the return of private investigator Cody McBride and police inspector Mullen. Add to all that some elements that evoke the adventures of Bernard Quatermass - the existence of a British Rocket Group and an astronaut called Kneale - and you have a fairly hefty concoction.

In certain ways, this book is like the similarly over-egged pudding that was Gary Russell's Instruments of Darkness. That novel also picked up story elements from books written many years ago. Unless you've recently had cause to re-read Illegal Alien, you will find yourself having to cast your mind back six years, almost to the beginning of BBC Books' Doctor Who publishing programme in 1997.

Happily, Loving the Alien rises above its shortcomings more successfully than Instruments of Darkness did. Gradually you see the ways in which all (well, most of) the disparate elements fit together. This is particularly startling during the scenes set in a strange locality in which American reporter Rita Hawks finds the food curiously dissatisfying. However, the business with the British Rocket Group remains an unnecessary complication, and I could also have done without the giant ants.

Occasionally the authors forget that their story is set in the 1950s when writing dialogue - one of the characters refers to Rambo, for example - but in other regards their work remains almost as readable as ever.

Richard McGinlay

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