Sonic Screwdriver #84
Hmm, many years later I’m not sure how to interpret this review — Gary Russell’s work has largely left me under-inspired (Shadow of the Scourge being a prime exception). He came to symbolise, for me, the "ultra-trad" in the "rad vs. trad" battle. Now I don’t know if this reasonably favourable review agrees with my current view or not. Guess I’ll have to re-read it sometime!
The Peladon stories have always held a fond place in the history of Doctor Who. Maybe they are a good summary of what Who is: lots of corridors, a variety of aliens, including the old favourites the Ice Warriors, the monster in Aggedor, tradition versus progress. Legacy is, once the first hundred pages are past, a generally enjoyable read that continues the tradition.
When I got Legacy at the beginning of April from Kate Orman for my 21st birthday (hey, I can name-drop if I want!), I thought I was getting it just a week or two earlier than everyone else in Melbourne. As it turned out, it was more like a couple of months (though apparently Alternate Worlds got in a very few copies).
This story is set fifty years after The Monster of Peladon — Aggedor really is a thing of the past by now, but many other favourites are most certainly not: first, it was great to see the return of Alpha Centauri. Alpha (long life spans can put a spin on a character!) is normally at its hilariously tittering best, but watch for when Alpha gets angry — not a pretty sight indeed! You certainly find yourself cheering this eventual outcome!
We also get the return of the young King unable to restrain the actions of a fundamentalist High Priest (well, Priestess this time, for some variety) and the miner Chancellor. The Ice Warriors are back well and truly — but whose side are they on? All very familiar concepts — arguably too familiar concepts…
The first hundred pages are a real drag. The setting up for the story is painfully slow and obvious. The first thirty-odd pages just give historical accounts of events — interesting, I guess, and not too badly written, but when they don’t actually add anything to this novel, you have to wonder what the point is? The Federation is, to put it bluntly, boring. It may be nice to know the set-up, but again, it adds nothing to the plot. Ace is given an important role by the Doctor in this story — unfortunately, it too is far from the main action and really not too interesting.
The fun starts later, and while it lasts, is really very good. We have a real mystery story — lots of characters, with lots of motives and background, lots of scenes where "someone stands in the shadow seeing someone do something" – leaving you to guess as to the real story. Unlike some of this book’s counterparts, however, we get a proper resolution and explanation at the end.
Much of the fun of this novel is the Ice Warriors. This is especially so because of how the Doctor and Benny react to them. The Doctor is very mistrustful of them, to the point of irrationality. Professor Summerfield has spent a good portion of her life doing archaelogical studies of them, and is fascinated on meeting the real thing. The Ice Warriors are charming, plotting, helpful, hindering creatures taken completely seriously. They are not just monsters, as Philip Martin (Mission to Magnus) would have us believe, but a fully developed race of alien creatures. Benny’s flirtations with them — and I use the word quite literally — are a highlight of the novel.
It’s a pity this novel uses yet another Ancient Artefact That Threatens The Entire Universe. Not every New Adventure has to be universe-spanning, surely? The Diadem is hardly an original idea anyway — for goodness’ sake, the name itself isn’t even anything exotic: ‘lightly jewelled circlet’ my dictionary says, and so it is.
Don’t let me put you off — there’s a couple hundred pages here of Ice Warriors, mystery, Alpha Centauri, and lots of different ways to die on Peladon here. It’s basically a fun, lightweight NA — and that isn’t really that bad a thing now and then.
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
This page last updated by David J Richardson on Wed, 20 Apr 2005.