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Review — Beyond the Sun

First Published:
Sonic Screwdriver #105

Publish Date:
December 1997

Luckily the editors agreed with me on Tameka and Emile, and had them return many a time. Also note my preacher-like spiel to convince the readers to give the then-young series a chance.

With Beyond the Sun, the Benny New Adventures have well and truly arrived. Those of you who have read Matthew Jone’s previous effort with Bad Medicine will recognise his dedicated detailing of characters, and it continues in this tome — indeed, is vastly improved upon.

Interestingly, in some ways this book follows the style of classic Who in that Benny properly adopts the role of the main character accompanied by several companions — in this case, two of her students, goth Tameka and insecure Emile. This is further illustrated when she has to write a personal code of ethics: it results in a parody of Terrance Dick’s "never cruel or cowardly" description of the Doctor.

The basic story regards some artefacts that a race known only as the Sunless are pursuing. These would, apparently, provide the cold emotionless Sunless with powers "beyond the sun". One of the these artefacts is discovered by Benny’s ex-husband Jason Kane, and it is his prompt disappearance that leads Benny and Co. into the fray proper.

Most of the story then takes place on a prohibited world called Ursu. The populace there have a vastly different biology and society structure. There, families of Eight are birthed from Blooms, large clam-like structures whose origin are unknown. What’s more, the members of the Eight are physically dissimilar — all vaguely humanoid, but of different colours, sizes, genders, and species. Other differences include selfish love of individuals being an unknown, which provides for some very awkward moments.

Ursu is currently dominated by the Sunless, though few can fathom why and it is only later on that we discover why this old and driven race has become what it has. The story ends on their harsh planet as secrets unravel and artefacts "beyond the sun" are revealed.

But the primary reason for reading this book is the magnificent characterisation and in-play between the various characters: Tameka and Emile, in particular. Tameka, to put it bluntly, "shats" all over companion Sam Jones from the BBC New Adventures. One wonders how the mild Eighth Doctor would cope with her occasionally violent streak, however… A gorgeous Hispanic with an acid tongue and dedication to her make-up being just right, she is just so fun! Her by-play with the younger and insecure Emile is unequalled, though as events being more harrowing (and trust me, they get very bleak indeed…), they get well past initial perceptions of each other (no, that’s not code for "they live happily ever after"!). Both develop markedly and believably throughout the novel, something that many another book (Who or otherwise) does not achieve. We’re not talking about the Missing Adventures here, after all…

While he spends much of the story "doing a Turlough" (ie. locked up and out of sight), I even half-liked Jason Kane. The writer must be doing something right!

So, in summary, to see a brilliantly-written book that just accentuates how the Benny books currently leave the BBC New Adventures in the dust, go get Beyond the Sun now!

End of Review

Here’s the list of the Doctor Who reviews available here:
Benny Adventure: Beyond the Sun
Benny Adventure: Deadfall
Benny Adventure: Ghost Devices/Mean Streets/Tempest
Benny Adventure: The Sword of Forever
Fanzines: Mag Bag #1
Fanzines: Mag Bag #2
Fanzines: Mag Bag #3
Fanzines: Mag Bag #4
Fanzines: Mag Bag #5
Fanzines: Mag Bag #6
Fanzines: Mag Bag #7
Fanzines: Mag Bag #8
Fanzines: Mag Bag #9
Fanzines: Mag Bag #10
Fanzines: Mag Bag #11
Fanzines: Mag Bag #12
Missing Adventure: Dancing the Code
Missing Adventure: Downtime
Missing Adventure: Invasion of the Cat-People
Missing Adventure: Lords of the Storm
Missing Adventure: Scales of Injustice
Missing Adventure: Shadow of Weng-Chiang
Missing Adventure: System Shock
New Adventure: Bloodheat
New Adventure: Death of Art
New Adventure: Dimension Riders
New Adventure: Eternity Weeps
New Adventure: Falls the Shadow
New Adventure: Legacy
New Adventure: No Future
New Adventure: Sleepy
TV: The Curse of Fenric
TV: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
TV: The Happiness Patrol
TV: Season 25 Review
TV: Season 27 Review (the 2005 return)
TV: The Twin Dilemma
→ Or just head back to the Doctor Who Index

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This page last updated by David J Richardson on Wed, 20 Apr 2005.