Doctor Who
The Infinity Race

Author: Simon Messingham
BBC Books
RRP 5.99, US $6.95, Cdn $8.99
ISBN 0 563 53863 5
Available now

The watery world of Selonart plays host to the Trans-Global Regatta, the ultimate sporting event. But the Eighth Doctor has his own race to win. Stuck in a parallel dimension, pursuing his antagonist Sabbath, he must uncover a plot that could devastate the planet - or even affect the whole of time...

A neat contrast to the dusty world of last month's Heritage, Selonart is a fascinating environment. Its frictionless waters are perfect for racing. Although devoid of indigenous life, the planet has somehow affected the development of the offspring of the earliest human settlers, who possess a strange affinity with the water and its currents. The Trans-Global Regatta attracts hordes of wealthy and unscrupulous racers, who are quite willing to exploit the natives (and Fitz) for their own ends.

The planet's governor, Marius, is a classic type of Doctor Who character. A vain and cowardly man, easily manipulated by Sabbath, he would not have seemed out of place in one of Malcolm Hulke's scripts.

Similarly evocative of the Jon Pertwee era, Sabbath is now firmly established as a recurring villain, analogous to Roger Delgado's Master. Having appeared in four consecutive Eighth Doctor novels, his omnipresence is akin to that of the Master during Season Eight. And, like Delgado's Master, he too finds his alien allies rather difficult to control. The author reminds us how dangerous this man is by having him bring about the death of someone that I assumed was going to be a major character. The villain adopts a disguise, but his personality is so strong and distinctive that there is no need for the author to alert the reader as to who Sabbath really is.

Messingham's novel is also notable for its enjoyable first-person accounts, told from the perspectives of the companions Anji and Fitz. Anji's caustic commentary is particularly enjoyable.

On the downside, the exciting and intriguing plot runs out of steam before the end. And the alternate timeline setting, which was so carefully established in Justin Richards' Time Zero, has very little bearing on this story. The author also fails to explain where a certain sea monster came from.

For the most part, though, the novel races along very nicely indeed.

Richard McGinlay

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