Doctor Who
The Last Resort

Author: Paul Leonard
BBC Books
RRP 5.99, US $6.95, Cdn $8.99
ISBN 0 563 48605 8
Available now

The Good Time Travel Company is the franchise to end all franchises - literally. Tourists can choose from destinations such as ancient Egypt and the Wild West, all equipped with luxury hotels and theme parks. But the Doctor knows that such irresponsible holidaymaking could destroy the very fabric of reality...

Time tourism resulting in bizarre side effects? Numerous passages of text more or less repeated just to drive home the weirdness? This sounds more like the sort of thing Steve Lyons would write, rather than the earnest Paul Leonard. But the wackier elements of the Good Time Travel Company are played down (in any case, Doctor Who has ventured on such a vacation before, in Delta and the Bannermen). The holidaymaking is merely the starting point for some mind-numbing duplication of characters.

You see, the normal laws of time no longer apply. There is no limit to the number of occasions a person can travel into the same time zone and effectively replicate his or herself. People who bump into themselves don't explode like the Brigadier nearly did in Mawdryn Undead - although they may fall victim to the temporal apartheid that is enforced by the Time Police. It might be a good idea to take notes as you read this book, to try and keep track of the various doubles that weave in and out of the narrative, but I think the author intended a certain degree of confusion to remain.

Due to the number of duplicates running around at any given moment, Leonard chooses to write the Doctor out during the first half of the novel, which is dominated instead by Fitz and Anji. It is a credit to the BBC range editors that these made-for-prose companions are sufficient to carry so much of the story. They are joined by a couple of independent time travellers called Jack and Iyeeye - or rather several versions of them. It is with the character of Iyeeye, a brave Leela-like savage, that we see the familiar Paul Leonard style shining through. Her world is a tangibly alien environment, even though it is an alternative version of Earth.

There are points during the reading of this book that leave you thinking, "What the hell is going on?" But in the end, I think, the trip is worth taking.

Richard McGinlay

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