Time Hunter
The Winning Side

Author: Lance Parkin
Telos Publishing
RRP £7.99 (paperback), £25.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 35 9 (paperback)
ISBN 1 903889 36 7 (deluxe hardback)
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Emily is dead, murdered by an unknown assailant. Honoré Lechasseur is called to identify the body, but who else should arrive at the mortuary but Emily! The pair find themselves caught up in a plot reaching from the future to their past, with their very existence, and that of the entire world, at stake...

This is the first in an ongoing series of adventures, part detective story, part science fiction, featuring Honoré Lechasseur and Emily Blandish, following on from their impressive introduction in the Doctor Who novella The Cabinet of Light. Taking into account the fact that some readers might not be familiar with the previous book, author Lance Parkin subtly brings us up to speed with the peculiar lives of the time-sensitive "fixer" Lechasseur and his amnesiac associate.

At just 80 pages, this book is short, but sweet. Unencumbered by an introduction of the type that prefaces the Who novellas, which sometimes build up the stories a little more than they deserve, The Winning Side efficiently gets on with its task of telling a good story. Parkin begins by killing Emily, then presents Lechasseur with the mystery of how the woman can still be alive, then goes on to establish the series' sci-fi credentials by hurling the pair into an Orwellian future, complete with all-seeing television screens and euphemistic terms such as Conversation Room.

Like the BBC Doctor Who novel History 101, The Winning Side concerns itself with Orwell's fears about government manipulation of the media and therefore of history itself. The erasure of all conflicting viewpoints in order to create a "definitive", authorised version of the past is something to be feared and condemned, as Emily discovers.

While Lechasseur remains his complicated but level-headed self, Emily comes into her own in this book. With Telos obliged to cease their publication of Who fiction, Time Hunter is being groomed as a substitute. Emily is essentially the companion to Lechasseur's "Doctor", but she is actually the more mysterious of the two. Like the Doctor's original companion, Susan, her knowledge of the world is advanced in some areas but surprisingly ignorant in others, suggesting that she may be from another time, possibly even from another world.

The novella comes to a rather sudden halt, but nevertheless it marks an impressive start to the series - it certainly won me over.

Richard McGinlay

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