THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

The Dimension Riders
Virgin Books
Infinite Requiem

Author Daniel Blythe Cover image
ISBN# 0 426 20437 9
Published 1995
Cover Barry Jones

Synopsis: On Gadrell Major, Earth soldiers tangle with the forces of the advancing Phractons. Bernice faces death with only a hologram of the Doctor to help, while the Doctor himself must deal with the trinity of Sensopaths.


Reviews

A Review by Sean Gaffney 11/8/99

Time to look at Infinite Requiem. Well, The Dimension Riders was one of those books that I remembered more for the books around it. I constantly find myself rereading Blood Heat, Hummer, et al., but Dimension sorta sits on my shelf. I was hoping that Infinite Requiem would change my opinion.

And, for the most part, it did. As with Dimension, characterization is the key here, and there is far less emphasis on pseudo-technology (though what there is is done very well). The three times were handled well...again... Dan, stick to one place next time!

The villains were excellently drawn, and really had me turning the pages. The violence and deaths all fit within the story and were well presented...

All expect for the last two pages, which is why I'll think twice about re-reading this one.

I'm all for the idea that sometimes death in Doctor Who is necessary to prove a point about human foibles, or the futility of our brief existence. However, the last two pages left me depressed because, despite all that, it did seem unwarranted. There had been so much death, so many ways of saying that "war is bad", did killing Suzi and Cheynor really need to be there to further drive the point home? What would have been the harm in letting them live?

So, minus two for the last two pages,

7/10.


A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 25/5/03

Infinite Requiem was a book that I thought had a very strong beginning with a lot of potential set up early on. Initially, I enthusiastically turned the pages, extremely curious as to what was going to happen next. By the time I got to the end, I was somewhat disappointed and had ended up simply not caring what any of the characters did. The process of getting from one reaction to the other was so gradual that I really didn't notice it happening at all during my first read. But each time I picked the book back up after taking a break, it was with less eagerness than I had felt before. I can't describe any specific plot-point or event to say that this is where I got fed up; it just seems to be a case of too much build-up and not enough pay-off.

The beginning has a large portion focused upon events taking place on modern-day Earth, and it was these sections that I found most enjoyable. As the book progresses, the attention shifts towards future and outer space settings. The farther away the action drifts from Earth, the less interested I became in the events that were unfolding. By the time the story has reached the part where everything takes place in the distant future, on a far-away planet, in some strange virtual reality thingy (or whatever), I had just gone completely past the point of caring. This really is a shame, as Blythe tells the modern-day Earth sections with real heart. Once that setting is abandoned, the book becomes much poorer for it.

There are a few other things about Infinite Requiem that I enjoyed. The Phractons are quite an interesting creation, feeling like proper aliens and far more worthy of attention than the vastly overrated and boring Chelonians. I also liked the follow-ups pertaining to events in the previous adventure, Set Piece. One gets the impression that Kate Orman sent Blythe a checklist of all the bodily injuries that the Doctor and Benny had suffered in that book so that he could go through the bruises one by one. Blythe handles the sections dealing with the recent departure of Ace as sensitively and maturely as one would hope for.

There are also a few things in the narrative, their reason for inclusion being one that I just couldn't fathom. Benny finds a holographic projector that displays a simulation of the Doctor, and this projection becomes a running plot-strand in the story. Why is this in the book? I don't know; it doesn't add anything and only becomes annoying as the pointless distraction keeps getting pulled out. A character from Blythe's previous NA (The Dimension Riders) comes back. Why? I don't know; he's an all-right character, I suppose, he just doesn't strike me as being interesting enough to merit a return appearance. The narrative goes to great lengths to expound on the familial relationship between two of the characters. Why? I don't know; I suspect that the story was going somewhere with this, but it just ended up being angsty and misplaced.

This isn't a particularly awful story, it just has an unfortunate inconsequential feel. Certain parts read as though they weren't thought through as fully as they should have been, as if the author came up with some potentially great ideas but never got around to integrating them properly with each other or with the story. I wouldn't mind seeing Blythe return to the Doctor Who book range. If he weren't attempting to squeeze too many science-fiction concepts into his work, I think he could produce something fantastic.


A Review by Finn Clark 1/9/04

I've always rated Daniel Blythe's NAs. As with Paul Leonard, it's not his plotting but the quality of his writing that makes his books memorable for me. Thanks to this factor, I enjoyed Infinite Requiem even more on rereading than I did the first time in 1995.

However it's a good thing I like the writing so much, since the plot's hardly worth writing home about. Infinite Requiem isn't as bad as The Dimension Riders, but its villains come so close to being utter bollocks that I might have suspected parody from another writer. Isn't this the bad guy from Blood Harvest? No, of course it's not, but you'd be forgiven for thinking so. It's a gestalt entity with three splintered personalities, but otherwise it's your basic psychic superbeing who's being evil simply because he thinks it's fun. Ho hum. Anyone writing about such bad guys had better start hitting their bootstraps if they don't want their novel to stink like last week's fish.

Also the action-packed climax, um, isn't. It's practically on a par with The Daemons, so it's lucky that that's blatantly not what the novel's interested in. Many novels take a few pages to unwind after beating the bad guy, but Infinite Requiem keeps going for another twenty pages and three more chapters. It's not padding, either. This is what the book's really about. I found it charming, though you couldn't accuse it of having a happy ending.

It's another distant-future story. Lance Parkin's History of the Universe (1996 edition) suggested 100,000 AD, but you can add another couple of noughts to that figure. p83 says it's "beyond Common Era of Earth Calendar" and p201 says it's "millennia after the death of [Earth's] solar system". What's more, something dreamlike and alien about the Pridka Dream Centre really convinces you that you're in a distant post-human future, unlike most such stories (The Ark, Frontios, Hope, The Well-Mannered War and more).

Other plot strands take place in 1997 and 2387, with all three eras coming across convincingly and realistically. However the primary focus is on the characters and their problems. This is writing with heart. It's humane and deft, occasionally managing the odd whimsical turn of phrase, so for once the result is a book that transcends its formulaic Whoish plot and becomes more than just another adventure. There's a hefty body count and a bleak final twist, but despite this somehow this novel feels warm and optimistic. Again I was impressed.

There's even a sense of humour! It's sufficiently deadpan that I didn't even notice it on first reading, but if you look carefully you can find a few moments of blackest humour. There aren't many, admittedly, but for me that kind of thing can make all the difference.

There are plenty of continuity references, but most of them feel natural rather than shoehorned. That doesn't sound difficult, but check out the other Virgin NAs of this era. Again I'm impressed! If we leave aside the many nods to other stories, there's a mention of Draconian chess on p185 and a glimpse of the Caxtarids on p173 (an alien race who've appeared in a number of Kate Orman novels, particularly Return of the Living Dad and The Room With No Doors).

Overall, I found this to be a real treat. Infinite Requiem isn't a particularly well-remembered novel, but I got more from it than I did from many NAs of loftier reputation. As an adventure it's fairly mundane, but it would be a dreadful mistake to judge it as just an adventure. This is a true novel - intelligent, well written and massively under-rated.