In 2068, the PRISM agency and its legendary Indestructible
Man save the Earth from mysterious alien invaders, the Myloki.
The victory comes at a high price: economies collapse, governments
crumble, and PRISM is torn apart by a best-selling exposť.
In 2096, PRISM has gone underground, becoming the clandestine
SILOET, led by Commander Hal Bishop. When he discovers another
"indestructible man", Bishop fears the Myloki have returned...
my review of the previous BBC Who book, The
Deadstone Memorial, I commented that the typeface
used was rather small. Well, that was nothing compared to
the weenie text presented in this sprawling narrative!
Simon Messingham certainly has a lot to pack in. As you may
have already gathered from the names PRISM and Bishop, and
the image of a purple-wigged Zoe on the front cover, this
book is something of a homage to the Gerry Anderson productions
of the 1960s and '70s, in particular UFO and Captain
Like the Mysterons in Scarlet and the aliens in UFO,
the Myloki can take over human beings. The Indestructible
Man, Captain Grant Matthews, and his arch nemesis, the similarly
invulnerable Myloki-possessed Karl Taylor, are clearly based
upon Captains Scarlet and Black. SILOET and Commander Bishop
bear obvious resemblances to the SHADO organisation depicted
in UFO and that series' star, Ed Bishop.
performers from Anderson series receive similar name checks,
courtesy of character names such as Ventham, Gabrielle, Drake
and Graham. The latter is a bespectacled scientist nicknamed
Boffin, this story's analogue to Brains from Thunderbirds.
There's also a submarine called Manta - Stingray,
geddit? However, the most groan-inducing name-spin by far
is that of the Sharon family of international rescuers, who
are, of course, based on Thunderbirds' Tracy clan!
A very '60s vision of the future is presented in this novel,
in which interplanetary colonisation has been accomplished,
but magnetic audio and video tape have not yet been superseded
by digital technology. It is appropriate, therefore, that
the 1968-9 Who team of the Second Doctor, Jamie and
Zoe should materialise in this setting.
in spite of the obvious whimsy behind the book's premise,
this isn't a light-hearted adventure by any means. The narrative
is punctuated by violent acts and grisly deaths, and the TARDIS
crew experience hardships of a kind they never faced on the
television show. When the Doctor is apparently shot dead,
Jamie falls in with a group of mercenaries whose charismatic
leader charms the Scot into their way of thinking. Zoe becomes
a slave, for slavery is commonplace since the world economy
collapsed. The Doctor recovers from his supposedly mortal
wound, but only after a coma that lasts for six months.
injected into him by PRISM scientists hold back the full physiology-altering
effects of regeneration while still allowing the Time Lord
to make a miraculous recovery. This raises a fascinating possibility:
could this event be the Doctor's true second regeneration?
The purely cosmetic one enforced by the Time Lords at the
end of The War Games might therefore not count as a
proper regeneration at all, which would also mean that Romana
didn't waste any of her lives when she altered her appearance
for apparently no good reason at the start of Destiny of
Indestructible Man is an intriguing book, but sadly not
tremendously riveting. The narrative reads like a sequence
of events that are not strung together very tightly by the
slender plot. Still, it should help you to destroy a few long
winter evenings, especially if you're an Anderson fan.
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