The independent Earth colony on Axista 4 was supposed to
have been a brave new world, founded by the wealthy humanitarian
Stewart Ransom. But a hundred years after landfall, all is
not well. Crops are failing, rebels have abandoned Ransom's
back-to-basics principles, and a hostile race of dog-like
bipeds have reawakened...
of you may have read pre-publicity for this book indicating
that it features both the Second and the Seventh Doctors.
That McCoy incarnation certainly gets around, doesn't he,
having only recently shared the limelight with the Sixth Doctor
in the Big Finish audio drama Project:
Lazarus. But before you get too excited
about the prospect of another crossover event, please note
that the Seventh Doc only plays a bit part in The Colony
of Lies. At first it seems as though his appearance, together
with Ace, is a rather pointless framing sequence to what is
predominantly a Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe novel, but his
intervention does have an impact on the second half of the
book. But I'm not sure it's enough of an impact to justify
with long memories may recall [or you could check out this
site's review archive] that I didn't like Brake's first Who
novel, Escape Velocity, very much at all. It would
appear that a number of other critics agreed with me, as the
author admits - with good humour - in his blurb at the back
of the book. Fortunately, this volume shows significant improvement
in terms of both pace and characterisation. The narrative
still seems a little stilted at times, but I found myself
caring for the supporting characters much more this time around,
and there are plenty of plot strands to keep you interested.
There's an intriguing similarity to the tale of the three
little pigs, with the canine Tyrenians standing in for the
wolf. The varying durability of the pigs' straw, wood and
brick-built dwellings are symbolised respectively by the Wild-West-style
wooden constructions of the main Plymouth Hope settlement,
the prefab plastic of the rebel Realist camp, and the metal
shuttlecrafts of the Earth Colony Support Vessel Hannibal,
which arrives on the scene to the relief of some but the fear
and annoyance of others. However, on this occasion the victors
are not necessarily those with the sturdiest houses.
the Second Doctor is suitably clumsy and disorganised, Jamie
is appropriately heroic and Zoe is the whiz with computers
that we all expect her to be.
Colony probably won't end up lying anywhere near the
top of my list of fave Who novels for this year, but
it's much more readable than I had expected.
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