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Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who


Author: Daniel Blythe
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $11.99
ISBN: 978 1 84607 759 3
Available 03 September 2009

Hyperville is 2013’s top hi-tech 24-hour entertainment complex - a sprawling palace of fun under one massive roof. You can go shopping, or experience the excitement of Doomcastle, WinterZone or Wild West World. But things are about to get a lot more exciting - and dangerous... What unspeakable horror is lurking on Level Zero, and what will happen when the entire complex goes over to Central Computer Control? For years, the Nestene Consciousness has been waiting and planning, recovering from its wounds. But now it’s ready, and its deadly plastic Autons are already in place around the complex. Now more than ever, visiting Hyperville will be an unforgettable experience...

The old adversaries faced by the Time Lord in this book are not actually ones that David Tennant’s Doctor has encountered before, though they did help to launch the new series with Rose, back when Christopher Eccleston was the star of the show. The adversaries are, of course, the Nestene Consciousness and the Autons, and this time they can take on a range of new forms as plastics have become ever-more versatile, including clothes and even fake snow, though the traditional shop-window dummies also feature heavily. The autonomy angle (see what Daniel Blythe did there?) has been done before, most recently in Brave New Town, but the author puts a sufficiently original spin on his story.

His embellishments, apart from the obvious consumerism slant, include allusions to celebrities associated with reality TV and other types of almost Auton-like “manufactured talent”. Hyperville boss Sir Gerry Hobbes-Mayhew, like Sir Alan Sugar, is a plain-speaking business leader who’s training up some apprentices. Like Posh and Becks or Cheryl and Ashley Cole, Shaneequi and Paul Kendrick are a married couple comprising a pop singer and a star football player.

As in The Taking of Chelsea 426, the Doctor is aided by a pair of teenage siblings, the decidedly chavvy Chantelle and Reece Stanford, though he spends more time with a grown-up, the resourceful if rather bland Kate Maguire. Chantelle and Reece’s mother, Tricia, is not unlike Jackie Tyler, and ends up finding herself in some comparable situations. The introductions of some of these characters are a little clunky, and Blythe’s characterisation of the baddies’ underling Max Carson is uneven, but the story gets more readable as it unfolds.

Whether you purchase it from a hi-tech 24-hour entertainment complex, a pokey little specialist store or even online, Autonomy is worth a look - though you might not want to pay with plastic...


Richard McGinlay

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