Sonic Screwdriver #91
I wonder how much quainter this piece is half-a-dozen years and more later, now that the Internet is so well established?
To the casual observer, it would seem the only thing worth discussing about System Shock is its cover. The computer-generated cover by Martin Rawl has been the subject of much derision, though if you just ignore the Doctor and Sarah, it actually looks very cool. As for the actual text of the book: well, it’s solid and readable, if not exactly inspired.
First, I’ll get a few things off my chest: if I see another mention of the Fourth Doctor’s "bulging eyes", I’ll scream. Sarah Jane exceeds her own level of self-imposed stupidity. The tech-speak of the Voracians becomes very tiresome by the end of the book, even if it does fit in, as does the repeated disgust the Voracians feel with eating. And Harry Sullivan is portrayed intelligently, thus depriving us of out traditional bashing-block.
Now I’ll actually go on to explain all I just mentioned – yes, Harry Sullivan returns, a few decades older than before. He’s gone up in the world now, and hold an influential position in MI5. Harry gets a really good go in this story, which is a refreshing change.
The villains of the piece, who (surprise, surprise!) are aiming to take over Earth, are the Voracians. They take human form for much of the story, concealing their lizard/electronic components. Their early cunning and infiltration of key posts is skilful – their "staging" of a terrorist seizure of a building is brilliant. When you have the ability to control anything electronic, there’s also much potential for neat ways to knock off enemies – much fun erupts here. The little presentation they put on for their hostages when they take over Hubway is quite hilarious – putting up a slide that says:
Demonstration of° Strengthcoupled with
° Elimination of° Greatest immediate threat
° Possible risk element in plan (armed and trained)
is not exactly standard procedure!
Unfortunately, they end up apparently as impotent as the terrorists they manipulated early on, little more than a bunch of hoods that the Doctor gets to make fun of. The revelation of their "evolution" is a shock, however, and their computer "virus" Voractyll is quite cool.
The whole thing smacks of a international thriller. Unfortunately, the book just doesn’t quite grab you enough – despite some really neat ideas and some really nasty traps sprung on our various heroes, I just found it missing, well, something. For a casual read, it’s fine. Just don’t expect anything too literarate.
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.