Doctor Who
The Monsters Inside

Author: Stephen Cole
BBC Books
RRP: 6.99
ISBN 0 563 48629 5
Available 19 May 2005

The TARDIS lands on Justicia, a prison camp stretched over an entire solar system, where Earth colonies dump their criminals. While Rose is incarcerated in a teenage borstal, the Doctor is trapped in a scientific labour camp. Their lives are further complicated by the presence of some old enemies...

SPOILER ALERT! If you don't wish to know the identity of the old enemies in question, stop reading now, though to be honest it really isn't that difficult to guess given the book's title...

It's a good job that this new series of Ninth Doctor novels puts the word "by" before the author name on the front cover, otherwise some people might mistakenly think this book is called The Monsters Inside Stephen Cole! In fact, the "inside" bit of the title refers in part to its prison setting, which is noteworthy in itself in that it marks Rose's first trip to an alien planet - or rather several alien planets - following a series of Earthbound television adventures.

The companion comes across well. Her wonderment at stepping on to alien soil is akin to her reaction to her first trip through time at the start of The Unquiet Dead. Rose proves to be just as spirited and independent in this alien environment as she has proven to be elsewhere.

The title also refers to the human-impersonating habits of the returning monsters of the piece, the Slitheen - or, to give the species its proper name, the Raxacoricofallapatorians - from the two-parter Aliens of London/World War Three. Cole makes good use of them, developing the idea of their family-based power structure, thus likening them to the Mafia. However, it is something of a coincidence that the Doctor bumps into the very same family that he encountered before. The Raxacoricofallapatorians' disguises are seen to have improved significantly over the five centuries that have passed since World War Three, though they still fart a lot.

Yes, that word turns up frequently. Is it really acceptable these days to use the word "fart" on a television show that kiddies will watch and now in a book that kiddies will read, or am I just being terribly old-fashioned? Answers on a postcard, please.

But enough hot air about flatulence. What is rather more refreshing is the wide-ranging planet-hopping adventure that unfolds between the covers of Cole's novel. From a food fight in a teenage borstal to a toffee-pudding-textured alien life form, there's plenty in here to entertain fans both old and new.

Richard McGinlay

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