The TARDIS and Anji suffer the effects of a powerful telepathic
assault. Could the phenomenon be connected to the birth of
strangely deformed babies on Ceres Alpha, a world currently
being prepared for colonisation? And could these babies have
anything to do with the recent discovery of alien artefacts
on the apparently barren planet?...
Well, yes, of course they could. But Emmerson keeps us guessing
about the precise connections by serving up a series of masterful
diversions involving a large contingent of characters, including
the separate members of the TARDIS crew, a colony city's medical
and military staff, an archaeologist and the corrupt corporate
head of the colonisation project. The city itself is a neat
idea - a giant roving vehicle that conditions the soil as
idea of a profit-making venture, in this case called WorldCorp,
being involved in humanity's expansion into space will ring
bells of recognition among fans of The New Adventures
- for instance, the Spinward Corporation from Peter Darvill-Evans's
Deceit. Indeed, WorldCorp boss Gaskill Tyran states
that his company has many rivals, so the Spinward Corporation
could be among them. Emmerson's novel also ties in closely
with the TV serial Colony in Space, particularly with
its references to an overcrowded Earth that is now devoid
of animal life.
futuristic setting could scarcely be more different to that
of the author's previous novel, last year's gripping Casualties
of War, which took place in a rural community during the
First World War. However, Emmerson's talent for human-interest
stories remains evident - this time around the focus is on
the emotive subject of parenthood. Tragic parents Josef and
Veta are devastated to learn that their new-born baby is dead,
but they later discover that their malformed child has been
secretly confiscated for scientific research. Meanwhile, Anji
develops an empathic relationship with all the children that
are being experimented upon.
simultaneous telepathic affliction of both Anji and the TARDIS
leads me to wonder whether this story was originally devised
when the Doctor and Fitz were still travelling with Compassion,
a character who was both a companion and a TARDIS.
was a bit disappointed that Emmerson's intriguing references
to an archaeological excavation - one of the teasing threads
with which the author keeps us keen throughout the novel -
never really came to anything. Maybe this was a red herring,
but I was expecting a fuller exploration of the site. Perhaps
I've been spending too much time in the realm of Professor
Bernice Summerfield lately.
Emmerson's second offering for the Eighth Doctor range is
a very healthy baby indeed.