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Review — Blood Heat

First Published:
Sonic Screwdriver #81

Publish Date:
December 1993

My comments on TurboAce near the end still stand strong — for a while, no one liked her but in the last year or so before Set Piece she became eminently likable again.

When I first heard of Blood Heat’s general plot-line a number of months ago — an alternate universe in which the Silurians succeeded in conquering the world — I found myself greatly looking forward to it. I have always been a great fan of the story The Silurians (aka The Cave Monsters), and here was a chance to recover their stature, lost by their cipher monster characters in Warriors on the Cheap. So did they? Well, on the whole, I must say yes. Unfortunately, the book itself has quite a few struggles as I see it.

Basically, it re-used too many plot elements from the past. Fair enough to include the Brigadier, Liz and Benton — but why Jo Grant? Superfluous, un-recognisable, I felt nothing for her when she died. What was new in the Sea Devil attack on the submarine, the umpteenth return of Manisha, Ace falling for someone who promptly dies, or the miraculous, almost glib, use of the TARDIS to save the day?

If you have read The Triffids or Terry Nation’s Survivors (both excellent pieces of work), you will find the Earth sans humans a familiar place. And yet, perversely, I found it all strangely attractive. Certainly, after the first fifty pages, there is no lack of action (though the initial scenes of the TARDIS breaking up — hey, that’s new! — seemed totally irrelevant to this book, and were mighty annoying due to the delay they presented in getting us into the real action). The characters are well-defined, with nice contrast to both Humans and Silurians — individuals either hell-bent on peace or war. It is especially nice to see the opinions of Morka, the young war-maker from The Silurians, regarding "the mammals" changing. The "good" guy, the Brigadier, on the other hand, has a far more difficult transition. Other characters split along predictable lines — Benton the soldier ever-loyal to the Brigadier, Liz the scientist wanting the truth to out. Ace seems to go both ways — ‘Peace. It’s the only way’ followed shortly by an attempt at cold-blooded (sic) murder of Imorkal.

The Silurians certainly have gained their credibility back. No longer do their third eyes flash inanely with their speaking — they are once again tools and deadly weapons. These are real creatures of menace, but also of intelligence. Their more harmonious link with Nature seems, by human terms, to be at contrast with their great scientic and engineering talents — to vaporise a foot of soil and melt the rock over all of Wenley Moor is no small feat. In fact, the only thing under-cutting them is the shocking picture on the cover: Presenting the Silurian with Child-Bearing Hips. I look at Colin Howard’s sensational artwork from the back cover of The Frame #17 pinned to my door — and truly, ever so self-consciously, say ‘There should have been another way’.

A quite annoying characteristic of this book was, to me, the virtual avoidance of the characters of the Doctor and Benny (not that Benny is really used to better treatment!). Admittedly, we already had more than enough characters in this book, but after Birthright and Iceberg a story uniting the Doctor and his companions seemed in order. Having said that, I did find Ace to be her most appealing since her return to the TARDIS in Deceit. She may be a real bitch, but she’s a likeable and absorbing one — and you better enjoy it, ‘cause you’ve only got fifteen (!) more New Adventures with her!

Hopefully, the release of Blood Heat, followed shortly by the newly-colourised video of The Silurians, will see a resurgence in the popularity of the original owners of the Earth, second only as my favourite recurring villains to the Cybermen. Ultimately, Blood Heat falls down because of its familiarity, its reluctance to tread new ground — but it also scores because of it. It is nice to revel in Doctor Who’s past now and then — but do it too often, and there will be no future.

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.