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Review — Dancing the Code

First Published:
Sonic Screwdriver #90

Publish Date:
May 1995

Heh, a positive review of a Missing Adventure from me — wow!

If the role of the Missing Adventures is to capture the spirit of the era for which each book is written, Dancing the Code is a winner. If it is to deliver fast-paced, engrossing stories, Dancing the Code is once more a winner. And if we’re going to judge them by the front cover artwork, well, there’s simply no contest. On all these counts, Dancing the Code is a classic.

Unlike some Missing Adventures so far which seemed like transplanted New Adventures, Dancing the Code is unmistakably Pertwee: lots of UNIT, the third Doctor creating gadgets, Jo showing off her espionage skills, politicians getting in the way, and an alien race clearly thought out and defined.

Paul Leonard’s previous book, Venusian Lullaby, was noted for its detailed description of the Venusian society. This book is no less detailed: both for the country of Kebiria and the insect-like Xarax menace. Both are credible and well-rounded. There is an authentic feeling to the book; it is easy to imagine the flow of events in this book happening in real life. Dancing the Code could easily be filmed as a Pertwee story, budget permitting. But it just as easily could be a big-screen movie in the style of Clear and Present Danger, or a particularly involved X-Files.

Indeed, Dancing the Code seems most like an international thriller. Kebiria is wracked by civil war, and then the alien force steps in to make things all the more complicated. The civil war is far from glorified or simplified; dark, gritty reality is the situation here. Consequently, all the individual threats to our regular characters (the Brigadier and Benton get solid roles), as well as the secondary ones, seem so much more threatening. Enemy soldiers can shoot and kill in this story…

The writing style is fast-paced but personal, getting into the minds of many a character. This is particularly so when characters are succumbing to the effects of the alien presence. Indeed, this raises the only major complaint I have about this book – lines like ‘…honey honey good good sweet sweet honey to be honey dancing to be sweet sweet…’ grow mighty tiresome when they’ve come up a few score times!! Yes, they are very descriptive of the mind-set of the Xarax, but really! Maybe Paul Leonard felt he had to keep an annoying facet in each of his books (in Venusian Lullaby it was the confusing list of names and Venusian terms).

But overall, you’ve just got to grab a copy of this one. Paul Leonard has two more New Adventures in the planning, and we can just hope they’re as good as Dancing the Code.

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.