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Review — Invasion of the Cat-People

First Published:
Sonic Screwdriver #92

Publish Date:
October 1995

Gary Russell, the modern-day Terrance Dicks: can write very good stuff, normally doesn’t.

There’s been some shocking mistakes and errors in Virgin’s series of New and Missing Adventures. Maybe page 107 of The Left-Handed Hummingbird, the infamous "visitor’s ass" typo, should take top place. Some people would call some entire books errors. But some of the best ones around can be found in Gary Russell’s new book, Invasion of the Cat-People. Indeed, the first one occurs a grand total of, well, one word into the book. Oh dear – or, as we get inflicted with later on, oh my giddy aunt.

Did you know that 3978 BC was 40,000 years ago? That’s what this book claims! The statement that Polly will ‘cook in the weather’ of Sydney and faces imminent skin burn could make sense – if it weren’t July! (Sounds like the time an American friend seriously asked me if we celebrated Christmas on June 25…) And as for the problems regarding continental shift – well, read the book and then have a good laugh. There’s a few more doozies which I’ll pass over for now. To the book itself!

It concerns, logically enough, the invasion of the cat-people. Except that there have been two invasions, separated by 6,000 years. The first failed catastrophically, leaving just a reconnaissance team on the Earth. Behind the scenes, they have worked on the Earth through to the current day. The story starts for our heroes in 1995 England, before shifting to Australia, ships circling around the world and Arabia and Australia in the far past, and then to places of the mind only.

The cat-people are quite cool villains, and the by-play between them is quite nasty at times. There is a nice reference to them being distantly related to the Cheetah People of Survival. An interesting concept is the cat-people’s use of sound – purring for these cats is an essential, as different sounds can have grossly different effects. Unfortunately this gives another use for the word "Hummer" – so what are going to call The Left-Handed Hummingbird now?!

This book is set after Power of the Daleks, and sees the first return of Polly and Ben to London – but three decades after when they left. The ensuing confusion and cultural changes make up a decent chunk of this book. It’s realistic, I suppose, and is an issue rarely looked at before in this depth, but seems more likely to be a fair chunk of padding…

The book is also particularly relevant to Australia, with a large chunk of its plot and characters having their origin here. In this aspect it is actually quite annoying – I know Gary Russell has been out here several times, but some gross inaccuracies (or, to be more precise, unrepresentative samples) really grate. This Australia is one of travel brochures and stereotypes. What a waste.

So, what do I think overall? I think it just continues a run of mediocre Missing Adventures. After a great start, the series, for me, has fallen into a heap of pastiche and formula. Dancing the Code is the only Missing Adventure to grab my attention in the past eight tomes. They’re not necessarily bad, not necessarily hard to read, but just generally mediocre and not challenging. Carn the New Adventures!

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.