Doctor Who
Companion Piece

Authors: Robert Perry & Mike Tucker
Telos Publishing
RRP 10.00 (standard hardback), 25.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 26 X (standard hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 27 8 (deluxe hardback)
Available now

The Seventh Doctor and his companion Catherine find themselves on a far-flung world where Time Lords and their associates are persecuted as witches and warlocks. The Doctor is arrested by the Inquisition. His only hope for rescue lies with Cat, but she has her own demons to face...

Sylvester McCoy's Doctor seems to be getting a lot of new assistants lately. In the webcast drama Death Comes to Time (a coincidental similarity to which is apologised for in an authors' note at the back of the book) he was accompanied by Antimony. Later in 2004, he will be joined in his Big Finish audio adventures by Hex, played by Philip Oliver. As Companion Piece commences, he is already travelling with Catherine, or Cat for short.

Unfortunately, despite the crucial role Cat plays in the novella (as its title would suggest), Robert Perry and Mike Tucker don't quite manage to set her apart from the Seventh Doctor's previous companions. She is brave and likes to leap into action in the Time Lord's defence, just like Ace, and she suffers from a vice, in this case smoking, as opposed to Benny's drinking. She seems to exist solely to provide a dramatic ending to the story.

The book also deals with religion, in particular the less pleasant aspects of it: xenophobia, intolerance and persecution, as demonstrated by a futuristic version of the Holy Inquisition. The setting may be the 28th century, and the instrument of torture a device for bringing on regenerations in Time Lords, but the fearful and angry mobs, the burning pyres and the dank dungeons all hark back to much earlier times. In these days of hostility and suspicion towards fundamentalism in the Middle East, it's well worth being reminded about the cruel acts that have been committed in the name of Jesus Christ.

In order to demonstrate that they are not against faith per se, just certain manifestations of organised religion, the authors also throw in a "nice" religious character: the elderly Patriarch Julian, though he does come across as being the exception rather than the rule.

Companion Piece is far from God awful, but I have read better, both from Telos Publishing and from Perry and Tucker.

Richard McGinlay

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