Messingham, Simon


1.5 out of 5

(2 books)

Doctor Who: The Doctor Trap

An original adventure featuring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Donna.  When Donna is kidnapped, the Doctor is lured to Planet 1 where he is intended to become the target of the universe's most ruthless and deadly sport hunters.

Franchise-based fiction is usually somewhere between 'okay' and 'good', with familiar characters and scenarios being expanded on for the benefit of people who are already fans.  Then, every once in a while, a franchise novel transcends its nature as merchandising and becomes a genuinely good book in and of itself, whilst also delivering lots of what fans want.  This book falls into neither of those catagories.  Because sometimes franchise fiction is just garbage, where those familiar people and places are badly mishandled and where the original elements are badly conceived and poor executed.  That's the catagory that this book falls into.

The blurb at the top sets the stage for a derivative but potentially enjoyable story of the Doctor staying one step ahead of trophy hunters in a Most Dangerous Game sort of way, but this book soon chooses to ignore its own premise and dive off the deep end into a rambling, nonsensical series of plot misdirections involving characters pretending to be duplicates, actual duplicates and robot duplicates pretending not to be duplicates at all.  Messignham throws everything at the wall and not only does nothing stick, but the mish-mash pile of slop it leaves behinds is all but unrecognisable as a Doctor Who adventure.

Really, just do yourself a favour and don't read it.

1 out of 5


Doctor Who: Zeta Major

A Past Doctor Adventure featuring the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and his companions Tegan and Nyssa.  A sequel to the televised story 'Planet of Evil' (novelised by Terrance Dicks) in which the next incarnation of the Doctor re-encounters the Morestran Empire two millennia after their last meeting.  Here the Doctor and his companions discover that the Empire, whose power is split between church and state, has been building a vast Energy Tower which, when activated could endanger the entire universe.

An author whose other work I've loathed writing a sequel to a TV story I never liked, featuring my least favourite Doctor and some of my least favourite companions.  With all those prejudices in place, it's safe to say that this book needed to be really, really good in order to win me over.  It wasn't.

The vast majority of this book it tedious.  The familiar characters do very little of note and the new characters are so ill-defined as to be totally unengaging.  Messingham has tried to develop some complexity with the internal politics of the Morestran Empire, but it all comes off feeling like a poor imitation of Frank Herbert's 'Dune' books.  I really struggled to get through this book and was immensely relieved when it was finally over.

The one redeeming factor it did have was the fact that I enjoyed the concept that not only has the Doctor's previous encounter with the Morestrans entered their collective mythology, but that he is not seen as a particularly benevolent figure in that mythology.  I did enjoy the scenes where characters realised that the Il Dottore they learned about in church is the same individual standing in the room with them.

2 out of 5


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