Eighth Doctor, Fitz and Anji arrive on a world where people
live in the blissful knowledge that the meaning of their lives
will be made clear by the Creator who shares the planet with
them. But a spate of bombings and other apparently meaningless
deaths, which neither the Creator nor its mortal invigilators
can explain or remedy, are shaking the people's faith...
Cole has been busy of late, having also co-authored this month's
other novel, The Shadow in the Glass.
Cole sensitively tackles the thought-provoking and potentially
uncomfortable subjects of religion and genetic engineering,
in a book that echoes the downbeat tone (and, to an extent,
one of the plot twists) of one of his previous co-ventures,
Parallel 59. What appears at first to be another Parallel
59-style dystopia does in fact have the potential to be
something of a utopia, but this doesn't become apparent until
fairly late in the day. During some complicated introductory
chapters, Cole makes some questionable choices as to what
he reveals when about this particular social set-up. The propensity
of these opening chapters to tell rather than show doesn't
help to cement the concepts in the mind of the reader, either.
For example, we are told that the Creator exists, but the
lack of any direct observations of this entity (the plot requiring
that such things remain mysterious up until a certain juncture)
undermines the profound implications of a tangible god.
it becomes clear how an unpleasant yet pitiful character called
Cauchemar has become a veritable fly in the ointment of the
Creator's planet. Cole's symbolic use of flies effectively
demonstrates Cauchemar's corruption - both in terms of the
corruption of his mind and the literal disintegration of his
body, which he has prolonged by artificial means, like the
similarly revolting Magnus Greel in The Talons of Weng-Chiang
or the Son'a from Star Trek: Insurrection. The fly
imagery, together with Cauchemar's origins and his use of
zombified human minions also bring to mind a couple of Who
novels written by Gareth Roberts back in the Virgin Publishing
era - The English Way of Death and The Well-mannered
to its sombre tone and the aforementioned problems with its
introduction, this book is hard work to get into and frequently
heavy going thereafter. But, like the lives of the Creator's
favoured followers, the effort is ultimately rewarding.