THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

The Infinity Doctors
The Three Doctors
The Five Doctors
Virgin Publishing
Cold Fusion

Author Lance Parkin Cover image
ISBN# 0 426 20489 1
Published 1996
Continuity Between Castrovalva and
Four to Doomsday
plus
Return of the Living Dad and
The Death of Art

Synopsis: The fifth Doctor lands on a barren ice world, where he discovers the only things standing in the way of a horrific civil war is a batallion of Earth Adjuticators. As his investigation continues, the Doctor discovers that his past, present, and future may collide on this mysterious world.


Reviews

A Review by Rueben Herfindahl 5/8/99

Although it says nowhere on the binding, this is a multiple Doctor story with both the 7th and the 5th Doctor. As such it does not shine until the very end when the 7th Doctor has the 5th knocked out right before he realizes the 7th Doctor remembers everything that had transpired.

As far as an enjoyable story goes, it works fairly well. The parts with the 5th Doctor were great, some of the 7th Doctor parts were classic as well. I did not ,however, understand them as well, as I have not read a great deal of the New Adventures. (According to the back cover blurb this takes place between Kate Orman's Return of the Living Dad and The Death of Art. If I had read the New Adventures up until that point, it probablly would have helped my understanding of the novel.

This is one of those books that brings up alot of questions. The ending few chapters in particular. Some may frown upon introducing questions in the books, I do not. I believe that is what made Syl's last two years on TV so enjoyable.

Confusing, yes. But enjoyable and extremely interesting. A recomended read.


A Review by Shaun Lyon 30/8/99

I've been reading Virgin's New and Missing Adventures series since they premiered with Timewyrm: Genesys and Goth Opera. I think I've read most of them (with select few exceptions). And in all that time, even after his cold manipulation of Ace in Love and War or his bickering with Ace and Benny in subsequent volumes, I've never felt disdain for the Seventh Doctor. Until now, that is.

Don't get me wrong... Lance Parkin's Cold Fusion is a winner. It's a Fifth Doctor story with Tegan, Adric and Nyssa, and takes place immediately after Castrovalva -- and it's the first full-blown Missing Adventures Doctor-crossover novel, with the Seventh Doctor, Roz and Chris along for the ride. Parkin's writing has perfectly captured the characters of Tegan and Nyssa to the point that I almost expected to hear Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton reading along with me. The Fifth Doctor ("Bland" as the Seventh puts it, asking Adric which Doctor he's traveling with currently, "boggle or bland?") has never been better, still retaining the casual innocence that Peter Davison gave him with all of the weight of the universe's problems on his shoulders.

But by the end of the book (yes, I'm jumping ahead in my review here!), the Seventh Doctor has been playing a game with everyone all along... including his own fifth incarnation! Roz and Chris help him, albeit mostly unwittingly (that is, until Chris clubs the Fifth Doctor on the back of the head so that he, Roz and the Seventh can slip away). This ending is as abrupt as Earthshock or Resurrection of the Daleks -- it just ends without a goodbye scene or any of the Fifth Doctor's current companions in sight. For a book that was running 100% until the last few pages, I was awfully disappointed.

Okay, now let me backtrack, because this book is well worth reading. The Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Adric and Nyssa arrive on an unnamed ice planet (which goes unnamed throughout the novel), which is settled at the equator and little else. The planet is run by the Scientifica, a technocratic society allied with the Earth Empire, but there is a more-than-substantial presence of Adjudicators on the planet. Tegan and Nyssa get a hotel room where they run into a man who claims to be "Bruce Jovanka" with a bad Australian accent, while the Doctor and Adric enter the Scientifica's complex and encounter three very diverse characters: Whitfield, the woman who runs the Scientifica; Tertullian Medford, the primary Adjudicator on the planet; and a badly decaying woman who the Doctor subsequently learns is Gallifreyan when she regenerates and nicknames "Patience" (she was previously known as only the Patient). While things turn sticky for the Doctor and Adric (they're ambushed by a beautiful black woman on the skitrain tracks, then arrested for being alien spies -- par for the course for the Doctor, right?), Tegan and Nyssa run into their own troubles with the husky blond "Bruce". And all the meanwhile, a little man is elsewhere on the planet, investigating a strange machine found buried in the subterranian soil...

If you've ever read the New Adventures, you're way ahead of me -- our characters are reunited then separated and reunited again, we find out exactly who the little man, the black woman and the husky blond fake-Aussie are (duh!), and then all hell breaks loose. Again, pretty standard for a Who novel, but this one's done with flair and style, and the interplay between the Fifth and Seventh Doctors is very curt and impertinent. (You get the point that the Seventh Doctor didn't care much for his last two incarnations in these novels!)

Cold Fusion is well executed, with a convoluted plot involving an alternate timeline, a group of freedom fighters who are anything but civilized, a rip in time caused by a badly malfunctioning TARDIS, and another look inside the Earth Empire and its Adjudicator system, something we've seen quite a lot of since Roz and Chris (nee Adjudicators Forrester and Cwej) joined the Doctor in the NA Original Sin. The only time I think it falls apart is in making the Seventh Doctor more sinister than ever before, and when I finished the book quite upset at him, I realized that it was yet one more mark against the character -- a character that spent three years on television as the loveable, laughable Sylvester McCoy. That said, Parkin's portrayal of the Fifth Doctor is right on target, and his Tegan and Nyssa are the best ever (I suppose Adric is okay too, but I never liked him -- though his team-up with Roz for much of the book works well, I guess.)

Definitely a good novel, and well worth the read -- one of the highlights of the year in Missing Adventures. I just wish it weren't so damn difficult to accept the ending!


A Review by Sean Gaffney 20/9/99

This book really needs to be reviewed as both a book and a meta-book. It works on both levels, quite separately.

PLOT: Simply complex, it doesn't really seem to play much of a role until the end. The way it is solved is a tribute to Lance's understanding of both the fifth and seventh Doctors.

THE DOCTOR (Davison): Very much in character, looking bewildered a lot of the time, yet with the strong moral fibre we know the Doctor has. We also see a bit of the reason why so many people tended to die when Peter was around.

THE DOCTOR: (McCoy): Perhaps a little more serious in this book, but that was to play a contrast to our young, vibrant Doctor. Not a very big role, but pivitol, and knows (of course) what's going to happen.

ADRIC: Smug, annoying, but in three dimensions this time. Kudos to Lance for not making him nice.

NYSSA: Great, paired with Cwej, who she is very sinilar to. Gets more to do than most Davison stories.

TEGAN: Perhaps a little too accepting (it seems as if she's been with the Doctor longer), but other than that, fine.

ROZ: Nice contrast to Adric, but doesn't get a lot to do.

CHRIS: Excellent, doing all of the Chris things, lots of action. Pairs well with Nyssa.

OTHERS: Adam reminded me of John Sessions (as many gits are wont to do). The failing romance between Lian and Juno was especially nicely done.

STYLE: In terms of actual writing, it was very quick (perhaps a little too quick), and everything seemed coherent. In terms of metatext, this is one of the best in the Virgin line, with refs galore, dropped hints, and a bit of the Other to boot.

There are so many great quotes I can't even begin to count them. I loved "I've seen Blake's 7", and Adric in the Adjudicator uniform asking how he looked.

OVERALL: The book seemed fairly light in terms of actual plot, but the metatext more than makes up for it. Cool beans.

9/10.


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 24/3/01

This book is unique in that it is the first Doctor Who crossover novel. Thankfully it works as well.

PLOT: Well the obvious question would be what plot? It doesn`t kick in until the end, but credit to Lance Parkin even if it poses just as many unanswered questions.

THE DOCTOR: Well the Fifth is spot on; all bewildered, with breathless enthusiasm. While the Seventh is certainly in his "Virgin Era" persona. For starters he doesn`t appear a great deal and cares less for his other self.

COMPANIONS: Nyssa and Tegan are great, Roz doesn`t do much. Chris Cwej works better with Nyssa here than Roz and Adric (complete in Adjudicator gear) is actually raised up a notch to three dimensions.

OTHERS: There's something of a romance, albeit failing which held my attention, but with so many regulars competing for space, its easy to forget who's who.

OVERALL: Low on plot, high on characterisation. High for trying to be something different and well written too. Recommended reading,even if like me you`re not a big fan of the NAS. 8/10.


A Review by Kimberly Johnson 17/9/01

The writing style was okay but I found the book to be disappointing. I'm a fan of the 5th Doctor and even though the 7th Doctor had a small active part, it seemed to be a 7th Doctor novel. I'll try not to give too much away but I should give a few examples to illustrate my conclusion.

First of all, I should explain that I've only started reading Doctor Who novels. In fact, this was only my second (the first was Superior Beings). It seemed that to fully enjoy this book, I should have read the other 7th Doctor stories with the Chris and Roz characters. The first down hill turn the story made for me was at the Imperial Hotel. There were many (too many) contrived coincidences in the story and this was the first. While in the hotel, Nyssa and Tegan began to behave like teenage girls spying on the hunky high school football star. The action at the hotel ends with Tegan's arrest and Nyssa escaping with Chris.

This leads the second problem with the novel, the author had to do some extreme bending and twisting to the get the characters paired off for the middle portion of the book. For instance, Nyssa runs off with Chris but conveniently fails to ask about Tegan (who was arrested). If she had, the natural sequence of events would have been that she would have tried to get Chris to break her out, which would have tangled the plotline. Another example of this problematic forced separation is that the 5th Doctor takes an order from Adric. The Doctor, Adric and a mystery woman try to escape a government complex. The woman is the first to go through an opening but there is only time for one other person to go, Adric tells the Doctor "Go!" and he does. I was floored that Lance Parkin actually had the Doctor (especially the 5th Doctor) abandoning one of his companions and escaping.

The 5th Doctor's companions and the 7th Doctor's companions are forced together, none knowing that other the person that they are with has any connection to the Doctor, and yet they work together and share information as if the characters knew the same information as the reader.

Warning Spoiler below:
Lastly, it seemed that the book would have better without the mystic time aliens aspect. The concept of mixing 'real' magic and science seemed a total betrayal of Doctor Who. The 7th Doctor appeared to completely accept the existence of magic (and he actually calls it magic), incantations and the power of runic symbols. The introduction of these theories has been done before but the Doctor always implied that there was a scientific and measurable explanation for it. In the televised episodes, it was clear that the Doctor sneered at "superstitious rubbish", so his turnabout in this novel was quite a shock.

It's not terribly bad, but I wouldn't recommend it.


A Review by Finn Clark 25/3/02

I really enjoyed Cold Fusion in 1996, but on rereading I realised almost none of it had lodged in my mind. Odd. Normally being forgettable is bad. This warranted further investigation.

This book is... well, it's not very good. It's fun and there's plenty of ideas in there, but it doesn't hang together as a story. You've got a freezing planet o' robots, run by science Nazis with Adjudicator sidekicks and a terrorist movement headed by a bloke called Adam. You've got two Doctors and five companions. You've got shitloads of Old Time stuff, tying in with Lungbarrow and The Infinity Doctors. You've got the Ferutu. Puddings are being over-egged. Cramming in all this stuff means the book can give centre stage to none of it, resulting in a story that doesn't so much go places as teeter over a precipice.

What's more, the prose is oddly stilted in places. The narrative viewpoint does weird things, sometimes taking us inside the characters' heads (Adric or Roz) but occasionally staring awkwardly at its cast like bad fanfic (the fifth Doctor, Chris Cwej).

Sometimes it feels like a Gary Russell novel, with in-jokes and fanwank proliferating like they're going out of fashion. (Guess what - they did!) I don't want to read about Davison's hair length, thank you. Sometimes it feels like a John Peel novel, with Lance showing an understandable fondness for dressing Tegan and Nyssa in skimpy costumes and putting them in innuendo-laden situations. Sometimes it feels like A History of the Universe, with history patches telling us how we got transmat technology from the Arcturans (p216) or Dellah being namedropped (p200).

And sometimes - when Adam's on-stage - it feels like a John Wyndham novel. I'm not talking about classic Wyndham, but preachy Wyndham where he creates characters to use as walking info-dumps. Adam is an exposition machine and little more. At least John Wyndham allowed people like Coker some personality.

Okay, that's the bad stuff out of the way.

The individual elements are all good in themselves. What we see of the world is tantalising, offering something more sophisticated than the usual sci-fi utopia. The Ferutu get bugger all to do, but they're a great idea. And the two TARDIS crews are the engine of the book, keeping us happily reading about their interactions even when there's no baddie or plot to move the narrative forward. Chris Cwej is rubbish, the worst he's ever been, but Roz and Adric (yes, Adric) are superb. We've seen before that the best TV companions often translate poorly to the novel format; here's that phenomenon again.

In a way, the skimpiness of the plot works well. You could put these five characters on an uninhabited rock and spin a book out of their interactions; indeed, that's nearly what Lance has done.

The Old Time stuff out-Lungbarrows Lungbarrow, giving us a clearer picture of the Other than I've seen anywhere else (p143) and a long, albeit coy, look at the Doctor's wife. Unfortunately this is the cause of the worst continuity sequence I've ever seen, at the end of Part Two. Lance is so intoxicated with his Other nonsense that he forgets to cater for those who've been there and done that. This is another important book that's been generally forgotten (like most of the MAs, alas), but that doesn't mean its revelations make good reading.

Cold Fusion is an enjoyable book, but it's really not very good. I've often written such words, but to Lance's credit at least he's invented a new way of making a book rubbish. There are worse sins than idea overload.


Cold Fudge Sundae by Jason A. Miller 27/11/03

Here's a book with everything in it. You got your multiple doctors, check. Montage of scenes from The Mind of Evil, The Brain of Morbius, and The Creature From the Pit (!), check. Obscure continuity references, check: members of an alien race referred to in passing in Time-Flight, and lyrics from a song once recorded by Jon Pertwee.

So. What's Cold Fusion about?

Buried deep in an interview on the BBC Doctor Who Books website, Lance Parkin reveals that the germ of Cold Fusion was the war in Yugoslavia. At its heart this was a book about the Fifth Doctor ("Bland") fighting in a local war... and opposed by the Seventh Doctor (the "Dark" one) masterminding the other side. Great idea! However, it doesn't really play out here. Cold Fusion is consumed by flashbacks, by references to past and future Gallifreyan history, and by any number of "Oh! Look how clever" moments. The novel is consequently much darker than the dark comedy left on the drawing board.

Cold Fusion had me scratching my head. The book is seven years old, and subsequent developments in the book lines rendered its revelations moot. I searched the Internet for commentary about just what it all means, but apart from the interview with Lance, couldn't find any.

This is the plot, all spoilers: The Fifth Doctor, before the death of Adric, lands on a 30th century Earth colony, where the scientific ruling elite is threatened by terrorists, and undermined by the descendants of UNIT. Lost beneath the snow is a TARDIS from ancient Gallifrey. The pilot -- Patience -- is still alive, and regenerates. We learn she's the wife of the Other -- one of the creators of Gallifrey who vanished into history to enter the Doctor's own timeline. Meanwhile, the journey of Patience's TARDIS unleashes the Ferutu -- Time Lords from the end of an alternate Universe. In order to save the web of time, the Doctor must send the proto-TARDIS home to ancient Gallifrey. However, the Seventh Doctor, shortly before the death of Roz, outwits his earlier self, and uses the proto-TARDIS instead to destroy the Ferutu and their universe. Most of the colony is wrecked, and Patience is killed by UNIT. Roz knocks the Fifth Doctor unconscious so the Seventh Doctor can make his getaway.

Deep, deep stuff. Any one of the three stories here is interesting, but not all together. The colony story sort of just fades away, both sides thugs, Lance's pointed political asides disappearing into the ether. I came away with a loathing for the Seventh Doctor... who really wasn't about the things he did in this novel. The Ferutu remain inscrutable, not tragic.

The black, black comedy intrudes. There are two very funny moments of 30th century hijinks: the Doctor disarms a "war-droid", which rattles out a string of hilarious operating instructions. Later, we learn that robot labor speaks in working-class accents and govern themselves with dilatory union tactics. Both these moments are laugh-out-loud funny. They're also followed by brutal deaths just paragraphs later. Maybe that sums up Cold Fusion in a nutshell. It's got these great ideas, but just doesn't know where to put 'em.

Cold Fusion is sad, sad, sad. There's a lot of death -- maybe the highest body-count ever in Doctor Who, apart from what was implied in Logopolis. But the end of the Universe in Logopolis was balanced by themes of rebirth. Cold Fusion is ambitious, and weighs on the mind when it's all over. However, as dark as it is, what does it all mean? What's it all for?