Doctor Who
The Domino Effect

Author: David Bishop
BBC Books
RRP 5.99, US $6.95, Cdn $8.99
ISBN 0 563 53869 4
Available now

The Doctor, Fitz and Anji arrive in Edinburgh in 2003, but it is not the 2003 they were expecting. The British Empire still exists, terrorism is rife, and the computer hasn't been invented. The stakes are higher than ever before as the Doctor struggles to restore Earth history...

I was unavoidably reminded of the classic New Adventure, Timewrym: Exodus as I embarked upon this novel. Whereas the Seventh Doctor and Ace discovered a Britain under Nazi occupation, the Eighth Doctor, Fitz and Anji find a 2003 that more closely resembles 1953 in terms of its technology and culture. In fact, this whole "distorted timeline" story arc, which began with last September's Time Zero, is more than a little reminiscent of the "alternate universe" series of New Adventures.

Having said that, you might have expected the TARDIS travellers to be on the lookout for alterations in the timeline by now. Yet Anji readily leaves her companions in Edinburgh, intending to resume her former life, and is extremely slow on the uptake when she fails to register the more sinister overtones of oddities such as the prevalence of 1950s fashions, the blank looks that her credit card elicits, and the lack of automated train ticket machines. The author explains that Anji's lack of attention is down to her being rattled by the blatant racism she experiences, but still...

Imperial Britain in 2003 is a grim location indeed. Knowledge of advanced scientific principles is ruthlessly suppressed by the state and police brutality is widespread, as Fitz discovers to his misfortune when he is arrested as a suspected terrorist. He is innocent, of course - not that his mockery of a show trial allows him any opportunity to defend himself. As with the recent Kaldor City audio release, Hidden Persuaders, there is an element of political satire in the Prime Minister's "war with terrorism".

Some particularly harrowing scenes follow. Whereas in Bishop's previous novel, Amorality Tale, the police were corrupted by an alien drug, here the violence is carried out by ordinary human beings. Nevertheless, as with his previous novel, Bishop's narrative remains irresistibly readable.

There was a long gap between the author's first Who novel, Who Killed Kennedy? and Amorality Tale. Let's hope he will keep his books coming on a more regular basis from now on.

Richard McGinlay

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