Planet of the Spiders
Christmas on a Rational Planet
Alien Bodies
Dead Romance
Interference: Book 1
Interference: Book 2
The Compassion/TARDIS arc
BBC Books
The first ever full-length
two-part Doctor Who novel

Author Lawrence Miles Cover image Cover image
ISBN 0 563 55580 7 and
0 563 55582 3
Published 1999

Synopsis: The third Doctor, the eighth Doctor, Sam Jones, Fitz Kreiner and Sarah Jane Smith discover that the past, present and future are being manipulated, with ghastly consequences for all involved.

Reviews 1-20

A Review by Finn Clark 1/8/99

NO SPOILERS! NO SPOILERS! Trust me, I'm going to be incredibly careful on this. If it's not in the blurb, it won't be in the review. Cross my heart and hope to die! This doesn't leave much for me to say, especially since the most enjoyable Interference discussions will probably involve "what the fuck's going on there?" but...

Sigh. I know, I know. No one's reading this, just to be on the safe side. So for the benefit of everyone who's already read Interference (and their dog), here goes...

Goes into bookshop, emerges with two-part novel. Hah hah, I own Interference! Opens it up, looks at the font size... bugger me, there's a lot of it. The idea of reading this monster is slightly daunting. Eventually does so (though this would have taken considerably longer if the author hadn't been Lawrence Miles.)

Opens volume one, starts reading...


Reads book one. Feels slightly nonplussed. That was a bit so-so. Alien Bodies was a dazzling explosion in a paint factory, but Interference Book One seems a bit, well, colourless. It's low on incident. It answers none of its own questions whatsoever. The famous Lawrence Miles imagination feels stretched a bit thin, as if giving himself so many words has diluted down the idea-quotient.

In some ways, it's business as usual. As we all know, Lawrence hates the usual paraphernalia of Doctor Who, its doomsday devices, alien invaders and pulp adventure cliches. He can't entirely avoid them, but he isn't a fan of them. Gritty machismo is la mpooned. Unfortunately, one is sometimes left wondering exactly what he's putting in its place.


And upon finishing the whole thing, I realised that all of the criticisms above miss the point entirely.

As it says on the tin: this is a novel in two parts. It's not (repeat, not) Shock Tactic and its sequel The Hour of the Geek. If it had been published in one volume, it would have taken me a month to make myself get around to reading it... but I think I'd have enjoyed it more.

The first half doesn't stand on its own. It's not meant to. The pacing would be awful, the structure unspeakable. Approaching the end of a book automatically makes one look for the grand climax. One has expectations of a story based on how much of it is left: "I'm half-way through, so the plot should have developed like so."

Interference Book One, however, is almost all build-up. The pay-offs come in Book Two.

This is a mature book, nothing at all like the juvenile runarounds one is generally offered (or even the true children's adventure that IMO almost all the very best Who aspired to be). It has grown-up themes. It operates several levels of sophistication above Yet Another Wheeling-Out of the Daleks. It's extremely dry, sometimes even a bit too much so. It's a complete headfuck. But is it any fun?

Um... yes. No. Oh, hell.

It's good, though I'd recommend reading Dead Romance too (and preferably first). But the playfulness we saw in Alien Bodies is absent. Lawrence is getting serious.

Down to brass tacks.

It's got Sarah-Jane Smith. (I can mention that, it's on the back cover.) Good-good.

But it's also got Sam. Ominous? Nasty twitchings from experienced 8DA readers? Thankfully not. In my opinion, hands-down, this is the best use of Sam Jones that we've seen, by several light-years. As Lawrence says in the introduction, this is a very political book; not in parties, Tory versus Labour, but on a more visceral level of How Things Work.

It's about ape-thinking, me-and-my-tribe gruntings in the modern media age. Lawrence is saying some startling sophisticated things, especially given that this is Doctor Who. He's not content just to present us with Sam Jones and Her Opinions. He dissects them. He puts them under the microscope. He gives a guided tour of the young lady's foibles and idiocies... which, for the first time ever, made me like her.

In my eyes, at last she was a rounded human being. Not a cardboard cut-out with 'Greenpeace' spray-painted there, but a real woman with whom I could empathise. I'm a Sam-hater, subscription paid and a Kill The Whales badge on my lapel, but by the end I was cheering her on. The defining feature of Sam Jones is her politics, but until now there hadn't been a thoughtful word written about them.

Oh, and she also works on a more ordinary level. Interference has one scene which quite simply contains the wittiest Sam-Doctor dialogue ever written. For that page or two, at least, Sam sparkles.

What about the other regulars? Um... I don't think there's very much I can say without giving away spoilers. The Doctors aren't very differentiable, unfortunately. Having them both on the cover(s) was a big help, since I could quickly flip there to give myself a quick fix of whom I was theoretically reading about.

Though having said that, its use of the Third Doctor (and its comments on his era) were more than interesting. I won't say more.

Drastic things happen. You knew that, but it needed saying anyway.

Should you read it? Well, yes.

It's a big, important book with outrageous continuity-busting. By the time you finish it, you'll feel as if you've been whacked in the face with a very large plank. I'm still trying to get my head around its revelations. It sets up the coming 8DA story arc. It might have been an easier read if it had a slightly lighter touch.

But Lawrence isn't interested in "easy reads", is he?

Supplement 9/2/03:

It's like an anti-matter twin of The Eight Doctors. Both were much-hated important event books, the poll in DWM 292 giving Interference an all-time low score of 43.2%. Both, for many fans, torpedoed their authors' reputations. Both are packed with continuity, often Gallifrey-related. Both have complicated plots which go back and forth in time, linking up with themselves in all kinds of odd ways. Admittedly with The Eight Doctors that was probably an accidental consequence of the continuity overload, but Interference harks back to the beginning (Coal Hill School, I.M. Foreman) as well as starring the 3rd and 8th Doctors (who's having memory problems, as in The Eight Doctors), Sam Jones (two versions), Fitz Kreiner (ditto), Sarah Jane Smith (ditto), K9...

Even Interference's cover (book one) echoes that of The Eight Doctors. The biggest difference, of course, is that Interference is absolutely fantastic.

Firstly, it's not too long. If you go in expecting the pacing of an ordinary BBC Book, you'll be wildly disappointed... but this is the first 623-page Doctor Who novel. It doesn't matter that the 8th Doctor is out of it for over half the novel (i.e. most of book one and a fair chunk of book two). Interference is as much a Sarah Jane novel as a 3rd or 8th Doctor one, and she's great. Mad Larry has more than enough mad ideas to fuel his opus; back in 1999 we were disappointed because the invention wasn't as non-stop as in Alien Bodies, but what did we expect?

I think I agree with Lawrence; this is a better novel than its more feted predecessor. It's less lively and funny, but its scale is awesome and it doesn't fall apart at the end. It's 623 pages long, yes, but anyone who sees that as a flaw probably shouldn't have started reading in the first place. You don't worry about how far you've got until the end; you just settle down into the story and relax. It's completely in control of itself and perfectly paced... how many ordinary Doctor Who novels can make that claim?

Of course a big part of Interference is its revelations and surprises, so I was interested to see how well it would hold up to rereading. To my surprise, it's better second time around. The scenes with Kode, Compassion and Guest become more interesting, for a start. Sarah's memories foreshadow the famous paradox. And Fitz's story is so horrible that knowing about it in advance only makes it even more chilling. (Between this and Revolution Man, I'm starting to think dark thoughts about everyone's favourite slacker.)

It's sometimes very funny. The Kalekani joke (b1-pp75,76) is amusing enough, but it's even better if you still remember it on b1-p237 or b2-p235. I laughed at Sarah's threat to K9, and also at the principled Remote.

Continuity is everywhere, but it's often subtle. There's a link to Damaged Goods (b2-p202), but you'll never spot it if you haven't read that book recently. Sarah phones up Jeremy (b2-p32), which may surprise anyone who remembers Instruments of Darkness, set in 1993. If both of 'em were indeed Fitzoliver, there may be a story in that. We learn that UNISYC was founded in 1995 (b2-p158) and that it's the UN's alien research wing (b1-p115). We even get a list of US presidents and UK prime ministers (b1-p141), though I bet it'll get contradicted eventually.

Oh, and anyone writing Ogrons must read the chapter that starts on b1-p187. Lost Boy isn't a comedy Ogron (as with Gareth Roberts) but he's cool anyway.

Not all of the reinvention is entirely welcome. I wasn't wild about the Doctor's explanation of why he doesn't topple Robert Mugabe, prevent famine in Africa and bring world peace, though I can see Badar's point and it's not a bad one. (One might suggest that since the book makes such a big deal about real-world brutality, Saudi Arabia makes far less impression on the reader than it should, all things considered.) Similarly I wasn't a fan of the biological speculations on b2-pp74,75, though those were only speculations.

Random strange observation: Interference's events tend to take place in the periods of Lawrence's previous books. The book two Anathema scenes are set in 1799, the year of Christmas on a Rational Planet. There's also a subplot in 2596, which was then the "present" of the Virgin Benny books and thus the setting of Down and Dead Romance. (Though in fairness I don't think any other Mad Larry books to date have been set in the 38th century.)

Forget the vitriol you may have heard (or indeed uttered). Interference isn't a violation of Doctor Who. In this post- world, we can reread it with a cooler head and less fevered emotions... and it's bloody good. No, it's better than that. It's a landmark in Doctor Who, still the most important 8th Doctor novel to be published by BBC Books. Give it another chance.

It's so bloody big by Mike Morris 27/8/99

Oh boy. Oh cripes. I don't usually review novels, as I haven't bought any since Beltempest (I'd like to pretend that this is a principled protest at the quality of the EDA's - sadly, I just haven't been able to afford any recently. Such is student life). But when I heard about this great big two-part thingumajig, and I happened to get my grant a week later, I figured why not? And oh boy, am I glad I did. I think...

First of all, credit where credit is due. The BBC range has always been a bit more traditional and safe than Virgin, but not here. They deserve plaudits for (finally) having the guts to do something challenging, and for bringing out a two-part novel. Perhaps I'm being a bit over-demanding when I say that, having come so far, they might have come a bit further and released the thing as one big, six-hundred page book for a tenner or thereabouts. The fact that I had to trawl all over Dublin (no shop seemed to be able to sell both books at the one time!) looking for two parts of the one book is a minor quibble, and principally related to not living in the UK. The fact that there is no narrative reason for the two books to be split into two is more serious. The result is that Book One felt a little - well, dull isn't the right word, but as I neared page three hundred my mind was telling me to expect a finale of some sort. And there isn't one. It's okay, I kept saying to myself, I'm really only half-way through the book. But something felt wrong, you know? It was a vague fault that could have been rectfied very easily, and as such a big irritant.

Okay, on to the story itself. Um, er, ah. It's a difficult one to review without spoilers. Often this means a bad book, but not here. There are twists, but they don't substitute for good writing. In fact, the basic plot is pretty simple, it's the incidental stuff that really hits you.

First of all, Sam. I agree with everything said by Finn Clark. She's never been done better in any book I read, including Seeing I. In Alien Bodies, Lawrence ignored her, which made me worry a bit about her being so heavily involved here. I was wrong. She's great here, absolutely brilliant - she's witty, and genuine, and real, and so much more than a teenager with a Greenpeace T-shirt. It's a pity she - oh bugger, I can't say that, can I? Bloody spoilers...

Then there's the Eighth Doctor. Again, I've always found him a bit faceless from the start, with a few notable exceptions - and when he was given a character, it often irritated me. Not here, not least because of the clever comparison with the Third Doctor. The Third Doctor I'm a little more reserved about - at times, I had difficulty distinguishing the two (I wasn't entirely sure which Doctor I was reading about in one scene). However, the device of thrusting him into an Eighth Doctor-type adventure - sans cosy arch-villains, sans Venusian Ailkido, avec brutality - is brilliant. The Eighth Doctor, to be honest, doesn't do an awful lot, but is never absent from the novel. Terrifically done.

Fitz - well, it's kind of difficult to say anything without giving stuff away, and anyway it was my first time reading about him. But I will say this - the stuff that happens to Fitz... oh wow.

Sarah Jane Smith is... well, Sarah Jane Smith. It's striking how confident, rounded, likable and well-adjusted she is, which seems a little out of place these days.

Thing is, though, there's a lot more going on here. This is a book full of wit (an early joke involving the space-time telegraph is a good example), humour, and ideas that are so absurd they're magnificent. It's also written in a style that is never dull. POV is brilliant, particularly from the incidental characters like Llewis. The style is clever, tongue-in-cheek, magnificently smart-arsed, a straight dramatic style underscored with a gentle humour. I found this book incredibly easy to read. Even the long expository passages, usually a sign of poor writing, are wonderful, and I'm very sorry to hear about Lawrence's departure from the range. But, having said that, I can't help thinking he's a little too good to be writing genre fiction.

It's impossible for me to go into specifics without giving the game away. But this book is wonderful, completely fucks around with continuity and leaves you re-evaluating the series, and completely fucks up your head while you're at it. You can get annoyed about this if you like, but why bother? Why not just enjoy what you're reading, and dump as many preconceptions about Doctor Who as you can?

It's also got disturbing ideas about morality, about where we derive our morality from, about how little and petty we all are, about how acquiring a new type of missile is not altogether dissimilar from owning a rare Plastoid Menotera/Venom Grub badge. It's about politics, and one-upmanship, and the cynicism of the elite. It's rather depressing, in that way, but it's never anything short of thought-provoking.

It's... it's big.

I don't really need to tell anyone that this is essential reading, and is something of a pivot point for the EDA series. Buy it, read it, and spend the next week or so digesting it.

This book is a marathon, make no mistake. But never has running a marathon been so downright enjoyable.

K-9 and Company: The New Adventures by Graeme Burk 3/10/99

First the part where I eat crow. (This should not be a surprise to anyone-- I do this frequently). I actually enjoyed Interference. Really enjoyed it.

The above statement will be qualified, but nonetheless linger on it. This from the person who categorised Alien Bodies as "cynical, mean-spirited and too obsessed with its own cleverness". And I enjoyed Interference, a book which initially seemed like Alien Bodies on steroids.

What a difference reading a few non-Who related books makes. I started reading Interference up until one of the Doctor's conversations with Badar and by that point threw it across my sofa. I don't think it was so much Interference that did it, but rather reading Interference immmediately after Autumn Mist and Unnatural History. I don't really know if the idea that Sam-is-lame-because-of-her-biodata is demonstrates arrogance, stupidity, or desperation on the part of the authors and editor in the range, and frankly I don't care. Nor was I wild about the whole theme of why the Doctor can interfere on Varos but not Northern Ireland. More on that in a minute, too.

Fortunately I felt refreshed after reading a biography of Francois Truffaut and Simon Winchester's excellent The Professor and the Madman (people should read this-- it's brilliant). And sufficiently divorced, mentally speaking, from Unnatural History and Autumn Mist, I found I loved this book. Finally, we have what was promised to us three years ago with the original extra-sized So Vile A Sin "lost" on Aaronovitich's hard-drive. We have the extra-sized, really big, epic Doctor Who novel we've wanted for years. And I loved it for that reason. As the sprawling plot expanded, I got more excited to the point where I read Book Two over a single sitting-- the first time I've done that since Bad Therapy. Many have criticised the paucity of the story, and I can see where they would be justified but it seemed somehow appopriate here.

I also loved it because it's the first Lawrence Miles novel that has displayed some affection towards Doctor Who itself. I could be forgiven by many if I said of Alien Bodies and what little I remember of Christmas on a Rational Planet that I thought that Miles was cynical about Doctor Who. And he does continue that cynicism a lot in this book-- in more manageable doses-- but at the same time he positively revels in the series quirkiness, and the TV series' quirkiness at that. And for a few scenes anyway, the Doctor-- in both incarnations-- actually are very nicely done.

Actually, my big complaint about Miles work generally is that while he may like (and with this novel I'd even use the term "has affection for") the Doctor Who universe, when it comes to the Doctor, he seems profoundly ambivilent at best, and profoundly mean-spirited at worst. Alien Bodies barely concealed his contempt toward the Eighth Doctor. Like Alien Bodies, both Doctors are pretty damn ineffectual in Interference. But for the most part Miles sidesteps this by basically giving over all of Book One and a fair whack of Book Two to Sarah and Sam. And to my utter astonishment, Miles is utterly brilliant at writing for Sarah. And he's written the best K9 ever. Sarah is having the best adventure of her life in this book. I eagerly awaited every new scene featuring her. Even though Miles tacked on some of the nonsensical revisionism about her in Book Two, I was still thrilled to bits that she was there. If Lawrence Miles' Vogel-like ego ever deigns to write Doctor Who again, he shouldn't do the daleks-- although I'm a lot friendlier to that notion now-- he should do a K9 and Company novel.

Sam gets a great send-off all told. In ways I was disappointed with it, because she I wish she had more to actually do in Interference-- she spends a lot of her time reacting to various things, and even if she does get The Big Moment departing companions often get in their last stories, I wish the character had learned more this adventure-- or perhaps, hadn't learned in such a subtle way. But the Coda at the end more than makes up for this.

The story itself was very enjoyable-- especially on earth. This is how late '90s earthbound Doctor Who should be done. Weird, crusading (I found the subplot about weaponry and torture instruments almost journalistic), post-modern, funny, fast-paced.

Most of all, I actually enjoyed Miles' storytelling techniques. In spite of its paucity, it's a well-written work with accomplished prose and and an intricate sense of structure and pacing miles ahead of anyone. True, he didn't end Book One with an appropriately built big event, but where he left it and how he wrote about it at the end made it work as a separate work even without a cliffhanger And the tone of the book wasn't so obsessed with it's own cleverness, as Alien Bodies was.

The actual story surrounding the Remote gets a bit ridiculous in Book Two, but in Book One, the Remote are totally captivating. And-- this is the weekend for surprises-- for the first time I was actually interested in Faction Paradox, ever.

All this said, I do have some king-sized problems with these novels.

First of all, there's the Eighth Doctor plot-thread. I don't want to give too much away, but if you didn't like certain aspects of Seeing I or Just War, you're going to like Interference even less. We've seen the Doctor tortured before but this isn't the usual Hurt/Comfort fanfic-turned-novel we've seen Orman and O'Mahony write. I'm not sure if I agree with Miles' premise that the Doctor couldn't stand up to real-world violence and brutality. I think it's a bit cynical of him to try and mix the two together, frankly. No the Doctor isn't real and it's not real to be able to escape all the time. But that's the point. He's not real. We know that real people can't escape from brutality. The fact that the Doctor can is why we follow his adventures.

This ties rather messily into my second, more philisophical beef with Interference, which is the whole discussion of why the Doctor doesn't get involved in human rights violations on earth. I'm a bit affronted with the need to try and ask the question in the first place. Tom Baker once said of Doctor Who that it needed to be just a couple of steps removed from reality, otherwise it doesn't work. Challenging this conceit isn't particularly new-- fanzine writers have done it for decades-- but it's not particularly clever either. From the perspective of the TV series, I think it takes away from the magic and charm you need to suspend your disbelief for the series. It's rather like the graphic novel Arkham Asylum which points out that the Batman is probably as nuts as the Joker-- you can de-romanticise things, but what's left when you do so? That the answer to this question-- and indeed to much of the discussion of politics in Interference-- boils down to aesthetics bothers me. Partially, because as John Binns pointed out in his TV Zone review, there's no room to express other perspectives.

But all this bothers me on a deeper level than that. I've done a lot of reading on Latin America and read about abuses of human rights so horrifying that I won't trivilialise them by describing them in a review of an SF novel. The fact is, even though I was glad to see Miles giving the DTI a run for its money, I want Doctor Who to remain two steps removed from examining that sort of human cruelty and suffering. I think it cheapens the memory of the dead, the disappeared and the tortured to ask why doesn't a fictitious Time Lord in a Police Box come to save them all. It's the same thing as when one woefully misguided author suggested that a proper Comic Relief Doctor Who would have the Doctor solve famine in Africa cheapens the suffering of millions. Maybe that's basically a traditional Doctor Who-should-stay-escapist-fiction position, but at least it's an informed one.

But the thing that bothers me about Interference is a big one. It's what's bothered so many others-- the Third Doctor's segment on Dust. While in Book One it was actually quite intriguing--and Foreman is a wonderful addition to the mythos-- the way it ends...It's not the just the revisionism, but the way it happened. It left a bad taste in my mouth, I'm afraid, for reasons I'm happy to discuss in a spoilered discussion. A shame since so much of the two books was so enjoyable.

So the final assessment. In spite of my dislike of the Doctor's contributions to the book, I'm still going to give Book One 9.5/10. Book Two would be awarded similarly up until Page 221. As it is it's getting 7/10.

Overall: It's the epic we all wanted, and the fact that my exceptions to it are mostly thematic and not fanboyish (at least not till the end) indicates this is a rich mine to draw from-- something we don't get often with these books. I hope others find it as thrilling as I did.

A Review by Kris Johnson 10/11/99

So much for one of the most anticipated novels...

I keep thinking this when I consider Interference. I live in Arizona (in the U.S.) but I easily became familiar with what was coming, the new story arc and all. I really liked Alien Bodies, it is one of my favorites, so I had high expectations. Oh well.

There's still a lot that I like about the book. K9 appears, and the subplot with Sarah shows her in full investigative reporter mode. The stuff that involves Sam is acceptable, and fun occasionally. In the second part that bit gets a little stretched thin, though. Fitz has some interesting things happen to him, between this and Revolution Man, this companion definitely deserves an award for TARDIS Passenger With Highest Count of Traumatic Experiences. It brings some interesting questions to mind.

I think the section with the third Doctor on Dust is lots of fun. Reading this helped my recent liking of this Doctor, he is a wonderfully dignified Doctor, and the brutality he is subject to as he fights through an adventure that shouldn't be his, amplifies that dignity.

It would be great if I could say the Eighth Doctor gets the short end of the stick, but he doesn't even get that much. I've read Killing Ground, Just War, Seeing I, and I've heard what people say about Set Piece. Now with the addition of Interference, I think we can add a new genre to Who, the Inescapable Prison In Which a Lead Character is tortured. I personally don't care much for it. I hope that authors would avoid a generalization that you have to torture your character to establish that you can do good character developement in your novel. There is something else. Kate Orman has used the strategy of torturing the Doctor to good effect, and at the end of the day you can still feel that Kate Orman has affection for the Doctor. Lawrence Miles doesn't seem to feel the same way, and that bothers me the same way it bothers another reviewer that critiqued this book.

I would like to be able to take this book more seriously, but I can't. The continuity busting this story performs seems cool at first. On closer inspection, though, I won't be impressed until the story arc plays out and establishes this as a set bit of continuity, or turns around and changes things back. There is good reason why Doctor Who avoids this kind of nonsense, if you change something, it can be changed back. I hope the editors stand by their guns and keep things the way the are now, rather than back down and change things to the way they were.

At the end of the day, like it or hate it, it is an important read. I would rate this about 3 stars out of 5.

A Review by Sean Gaffney 28/2/00

Bless me father, for I have sinned. It's been 2 years since my last Eighth Doctor book review. Well, you know how it is. It started with the books being late, way back with Eight Doctors. So I didn't read them for 6 months. It's hard to catch up with a lag like that. But I tried. Kursaal arrived, and I enjoyed it, and then I read Option Lock and Longest Day.

Then came Legacy, which I didn't want to read till I'd read War, then I had to wait for War. And then I started War 8 times. And couldn't get past page 30. It's that kind of book. So I thought about skipping Legacy and moving on to Dreamstone Moon, but by then I was reading Benny books, and I had a fanfic to finish, and...

As I said, you know how it is.

But this isn't just any 8th Doctor book. This is Interference. The one everyone's been discussing for months. The one that made Lawrence Miles quit writing Who fiction. The one that writes out Sam. This is it, the big one.

So I decided, damn the torpedoes, I'd get a copy. Review it in a vacuum, see if it stands up if you haven't read the previous... (counts on fingers and toes)... 18 books. I figured, being a two-book series, it'd take me a few weeks to finish.

5 days later...

As it happens, I enjoyed Interference a lot. It's not a 10, surprisingly, but it's still a very solid epic. It's one of those books that earns extra points for doing important things.

PLOT: Really, really well-done. Someone suggested that the book was originally 8th and 3rd separately, but when the Dust chapters came in short, it was reedited. I'm not sure I agree. Lots of twists, not so much in the Richards 'Wow, I didn't expect THAT to happen' tradition as much as the Miles 'Jeezus FUCK!' tradition. Amazingly, the whole plot seems rather Whoish, if a more modern, TV-movie oriented Who.

EIGHTH DOCTOR: Admittedly the weak part of the book. Well, both Doctors are. Our boy spends a great deal of both books trapped in a Saudi prison cell feeling sorry for himself and having philosophical discussions. I'm not as up on this Doctor as I should be, but the whole experience felt a) out of character, and b) a bit gratuitous. Once freed, however, his springing into action and screwing up a lot is far more McGann-ish, and I really enjoyed him here.

THIRD DOCTOR: Deliberately written as out of his depth and in an adventure not his own, he nevertheless comes across as out-of-character. His dialogue seems very GenericDoc at times. Meant to be tragic, but...

SAM: In the first book, she was really annoying me, much the same way she's been annoying everyone in this series. But she gets a lot better when she stops trying to be caring and starts doing things, and gets to save the day, too. The scene with 8Doc and young Sam in the attic is quite chilling in its own way. I really must get Unnatural History now to see what I missed.

FITZ: Hoo boy. This was my first experience of Fitz. He really gets put through the wringer, too, trying to hold on to his identity, what with all the stuff that happens to him. Quite impressive.

SARAH: Even if you hate everything else about this book, you must admit that Sarah Jane is written beautifully. Action heroine, intelligent planner, friend to Ogrons, and even having the odd bout of sex (offscreen, of course). She's the star of the books, and deservedly so. (Oh, her past self is in character. Asks questions, clutches Doctor, stands around. Thank God she got to be the Sarah we see in 1996. ^_^)

COMPASSION: I like her. But then, I like Seven of Nine too. She does tend to be a tad annoying, but she was designed that way, and we get to see how she'll grow over the next few books. Do I think she'll make a good companion? Obviously.

OTHERS: Guest was a fairly faceless villain, though describing the Remote as faceless seems akin to kicking a puppy. Llewis was the usual whiney, scared Who loser until the end of book two (boy, that took me by surprise). And how can you not like the two Saudi teenagers trapped in the TARDIS?

VILLAIN: Faction Paradox make wonderful villains. They can do anything to you. And you'd barely notice. Provided we don't get a reset button end to this arc (and I really can't see Cornell doing that), this is going to be one fun ride.

STYLE: Lawrence has managed, despite all, to make this a very reasonable, easy to read two-book series. I imagine anyone stopping after Book One will be quite disappointed, but hey, it is a SERIES. It also ties in nicely with Dead Romance, and does not totally divorce itself from the Benny books, no matter how hard it tries. :-D

OVERALL: It is ambitious, yes, and it doesn't quite become the ultimate Who mindfuck it wants to be. But it throws out a lot of wonderful ideas, it has a beautiful characterization of Sarah Jane, and it makes you think. It also made me order The Blue Angel, The Taking of Planet Five, The Scarlet Empress, and Unnatural History to read. Which for a media tie-in is quite an achievement.

8/10 (for both books).

A Review by Richard Salter 26/4/00

Interference Book 1: Not since Also People have I enjoyed a book so much in which so little happens. Someone said this and book 2 should be one 600 page book and they were right, but I loved it all the same. I'm with Graeme in saying that this should have been a K9 and Company novel and ditch the continuity stuff. Miles's characters are such fun, and his prose style so engaging that you almost don't notice that not a hell of a lot is going on. 8/10

Interference Book 2: More of the same really. Could have been shorter. It's all very inventive, and I really enjoyed the third Doctor parts especially - he conveyed the innocence of the character so well even though it's horribly unfair of him. It's worrying that the whole story seems to be over half way through Book 2 and there's another quarter of the book to go before we get back to Dust. Still, a fun read that's hard to put down. 7.5/10

A Review by Dominick Cericola 23/5/00

To try and write two separate reviews for Books One and Two of Lawrence Miles' Interference would be akin to trying to review Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side of The Moon" as Side One and Side Two. It doesn't work. Both are integral to the work as a whole. And, even if you choose not to accept that argument, you can always accept this: There are several well-written Book One and Book Two reviews on the Web already, so why repeat what's already gone forth?

To begin, let me first congratulate Lawrence Miles. He did something I didn't think would succeed: a 600 + pg. Doctor Who novel (or this case, two Books)! As I progressed through Book One, I wasn't entirely sure, still adhering to the idea that it would fail before its conclusion. However, by the time I reached the first quarter of Book Two, all doubts and initial fears were laid to rest, for I knew I was in for the ride of my Life!

The use of subheadings in the titles was another bit of literary genius on Miles' part. First, there is Book One, whose full title is Book One: Shock Tactic. The reference to "shock tactics" can be applied in one of two ways: On the one hand, it refers to methods used throughout the entire book, both as simple torture or as a means of extracting information. While on the other hand, it seemed to me as if Miles was go for the direct, "in-your-face" [read as "shocking"] approach for delivering his story. In nearly every aspect, the book shocked, as established Ideas were turned on their proverbial sides, forcing a different perspective, while Companions (both old and new) were put through he Emotional Meat Grinder!

As for Book Two's subheading, Book Two: The Hour of The Geek.. Rather than running the risk of of Spoilers (and, frankly, I can truly see no way to do so without Spoiling it), let's just say that by the end of the story, all will be made clear. 'Nuff said..

And, finally, one last bit of ego-fondling for Mr. Miles.. His use of multiple plot thread with alternating shifts in narration was admirable. It's not the kind of thing one expects to work, but here it did. For an example of alternating narrations that works entirely against the story, I refer you to Andy Lane's 7th Doctor NA, The All-Consuming Fire (which I refuse to review, based on my respect for both the 7th Doctor and Sherlock Holmes, who happens to be in this adventure).

I started doing this a couple of EDA reviews back, and well, it's become something of a regular addition to all reviews since them. I am referring, of course, to the bit where I put the characters in perspective, see who's changed, who's bland, etc. So, let me stop my yammering and begin with the most obvious choice...

...Sam Jones. Poor Ms. Jones. Since the very first published EDA, Terrence Dicks' The Eight Doctors, Sam has been the brunt of much criticism. The majority of those attacks were claiming she was naught more than a pale carbon copy of Ace. Sadly, once that opinion became accepted, Sam, in many fans' eyes, could do no right, despite the fact that some of the well-established Who writers from Virgin were on board to work with her.

But, with Interference, those attitudes and prejudices should be laid to rest. Miles does a commendable job, further fleshing out the little bits of Sam's background, while offering her a solid personality, one that is the sum of all she has been through in her travels with The Doctor. Yes, our Ms. Jones has grown up, and in doing so, she was given the best possible send-off any Companion could ever hope for..!

..Fitz. Poor chap. Since he's come aboard the TARDIS, his life has been anything but normal. I mean, he's been brainwashed by the Chinese, to serve in the Communist Army.. He had to play the part of a real Nazi, during the Battle of the Bulge.. And, now -- well, that would be telling, and would eliminate the need for you to read the book. :) But, no, seriously, Fitz has been through quite a lot, like our Ms. Jones, and Miles just finishes it off, with a blow that I wouldn't have imagined possible. It will be interesting to see what sort of an impact this will have on his character in future adventures.

..And, finally, The Doctor. There's not a lot I can say about him either without giving too much of the plot away. Let me just stress this: He, quite literally, goes through Hell -- both his 3rd and 8th Incarnations! It will be equally interesting to see how they will deal with these reprecussions as well.

Final Comments.. There's so much more to this book, that I could fill up just this corner of my coffeehouse with comments, allusions, symbolism, etc. from it. However, that would defeat Miles' purpose in writing it, plus it would destroy the effect for you. Let me just say that this is something we have ALL been craving since the NAs went away. Cheers, Mr. Miles. And, a hearty cheers for the folks at BBC Books -- It took you a while to get it right, but it was well worth the wait..!

This is wrong by Robert Smith? 7/7/00

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinions and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

-- Article 19, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Let me begin by taking yet another opportunity to praise my favourite Doctor Who book of all time. It's a book that does everything right and never sets a foot wrong. It's big, it's important, it's funny, it's clever, it's powerful, it's scary and it's incredibly well-written and tightly edited. It's Dead Romance and it makes you weep for the difference a good editor can make. The beginning of Interference, with its bottle on Foreman's World and some of the style (and the jokes, although they're far more forced here) led me to think that this might be Dead Romance parts II and III (or maybe I and II).

Sadly, Interference is simply not up to the task... and, worse, it's desperately trying to be. It feels heavy and bloated, as though for every good bit, there are two more weighing it down into a slow and clunky pace, clever ideas without the entertaining story with which to present them and a bubbling mass of overwritten and underedited prose that plods along labouriously. Make no mistake, Interference is hugely, and tragically, flawed. Most of those flaws can be laid at the feet of an editor who allowed Lawrence's mad genius free reign. You can see the good in this book, no question, but you'll tear your hair out wondering why someone didn't trim the bad and lighten up the leaden stuff.

The introduction is quite entertaining, although not nearly as good as the Dead Romance one -- despite lecturing us about what meaning we'd be able to discern from the book we're about to read, if only we were as smart as Lawrence. It's like one of those pretentious essays you get at the beginning of Wuthering Heights, which talks down to you as though you were too stupid to grasp the subtleties otherwise. Ta, Larry, nice to know you're thinking of us.

In many ways, Interference is the make-or-break two book set of the EDAs. Up until now, the EDAs had been mostly ineffectual, contained an awful companion, a difficult-to-get-right Doctor and a sad retreading of old ideas. Even the PDAs, with their inherently restrictive format, had been light years ahead of the EDAs. They needed something and they needed something now. Could the EDAs actually be interesting and relevant? All evidence up until now says no...

Fortunately, despite its many, many faults, Interference does exactly what it needs to do. It grabs the reader and says, yes, finally, the EDAs are here. They might not have it as together as we want, they might have an impotent Doctor and their problems aren't going to go away overnight, but they can still be relevant and radical and worthy. Oh, and they can finally write out Sam.

And there was much rejoicing.

The Earth stuff has a lot to recommend it. Sarah is wonderful, K9 is great and, astonishingly, Sam is actually enjoyable. She's easily the best she's ever been and somehow Lawrence makes this seem effortless. Her final fate is a bit odd and I'd be surprised if anyone actually followed up on it, but the whole Jimmy Stewart stuff is just weird. We know that Sam has never taken drugs, yet she has here, so this might be an alternate-Sam. Yet, the suggestion is that it was the Doctor's interference that altered her, so she became Blonde Sam instead. But then Blonde Sam's history would include this drug-taking session. Oh well, what's one more paradox in this paradoxical book?

Sadly, the Doctor and Fitz don't do nearly as well (he says, understating wildly). Lawrence's Doctor-hatred is at an all-time high here. What's worse is that it kicks off an arc where the Doctor gets to be even more impotent than usual (no, I didn't think that was possible either), book after book after book. Fun. I can see the reasons for colliding Doctor Who with the grim and gritty real world, but Lawrence's solution to that is simply to have the Doctor get thrown into a cell and all-but removed from the book. Which doesn't really make much of a point beyond the obvious.

Fitz is similarly sidelined. So much so that it's tempting to think that he was a last-minute addition to the book... except that his appearance on Dust and later in Dead Romance (published some months prior to this) suggest that he was always meant to be in it. I like the idea of Father Kreiner, but his giving in to the Faction doesn't seem all that credible in the first place. He seems to spend a long time waiting around and then just randomly gives in to them. Okay, I can understand that boredom might be a motivator, but I'm not sure that's necessarily the case here. His being popped into the bottle at the end, to turn up in Dead Romance later on is great. Kode is a nice idea, but I think he's too far removed from Fitz to make the point about the remembering that needs to be made. His reset button ending is a bit contrived, but fortunately future books handle this aspect well enough.

I was sadly spoiled about Compassion's status from radw, which really hurt the book. A surprise companion, who starts off as a villain, is a fantastic idea. Her development here gets a bit lost under the weight of everything going on, but future books help this out nicely. I love the fact that Interference is one giant confidence trick with regards to the arc it begins: we all thought it would involve the Faction, the events on Dust etc, and that allowed Compassion to sneak in under the radar.

I really liked the Remote being infested with Sam's morals and threatening to kill each other for the cause. Indeed, everything associated with Sam's moral quandries is fun. I laughed out loud at the moral dilemmas involving flame-torching puppy dogs.

The intelligent Ogron is fun, although a bit too close to Terrance Dicks land for my liking, as are the time-travelling ones. However, I think I ultimately prefer my Ogrons on the fun and stupid side. I appreciate what Lawrence is trying to say, but the Star Trekifying of them just doesn't work, IMO. Lots of good ideas, often enjoyable, not necessarily taken in a direction I want to go. The book in a nutshell.

And then we come to the Dust segments.

I have to admit, I enjoyed these the most. They're simpler and more effective than the bloated Earth storyline and the third Doctor is really nicely characterised. The TARDIS full of blood is one of the series' more horrific moments and IM Foreman is fascinating. I'd known in advance about the regeneration, but unlike the spoiling of Compassion, I think this actually helped. There are various hints about it earlier in the book (where Sarah wonders why she has difficulty remembering the Doctor's regeneration) and seeing the third Doctor out of his depth in an eighth Doctor setting is an amazing idea (and the transference is about the only redeeming feature of the eighth Doctor in prison part).

What I hadn't known, of course, was the method of the Doctor's disposal and it's incredibly shocking. I'd assumed the Faction were going to bump him on the head or something, but the way in which it happens is far superior, IMO. And the Doctor's last thoughts and final line is truly moving.

The only bit I didn't really like was IM Foreman being the reason for the Doctor's choosing Earth in the first place. There are some nice ideas there, but it's yet another example of Lawrence's Doctor-cynicism coming through: We don't need the Doctor constantly put down, retconned, made irrelevant and shown to be ineffectual time and time again, thanks all the same Larry. Some of this is good, some is not fun but appropriate, but you just go way over the top. The horse is dead, please stop flogging it.

The Doctor becoming a Faction Paradox agent really surprised me. I was convinced it would be Fitz who'd be Turloughised and become an onboard Faction agent, but this is better and more original. It makes a lot of sense and goes a long way to explaining the more reckless and idiotic nature of the eighth Doctor thus far. I can only add that it would be significantly more interesting if anyone, anyone at all, would actually use the guy for something interesting. Particularly you, Lawrence. Okay, so your eighth Doctor is a Faction Paradox agent. Well, show us then, don't just remove him from your plot! Yes, his actions trigger the Dust regeneration, but that's a bunch of steps removed and we never get to see this agent in any sort of action whatsoever. I think that's a huge failing of the book.

I agree with many who said that the Earth stuff should have been cut down to a normal size novel, but the Dust stuff is just the right length. I think Interference could have easily lost 150 pages. The fact that it's still as good as it is speaks volumes about Miles' talent. There's so much here to analyse that most reviews barely scratch the surface. And, despite everything, I'd much rather have my Doctor Who books epic and complicated and intelligent than the alternative any day.

Interference is a huge juggernaut that barrels over everything in its path. Ultimately, it does what it needs to do and for that it's a huge success. It's simultaneously fantastically good, too broad and deep for any screen, sprawling, bloated, appallingly edited, complex and mean-spirited. It's well deserving of its place as most controversial book since Lungbarrow, although (like Infinity Doctors before it), most people are complaining about the wrong things. Despite the fact that I have complaints -- indeed, despite the fact that just about everyone, the author included (bar Lars Pearson, of course), has complaints about it -- this is nevertheless highly recommended. It solves many of the EDA's problems in one fell swoop (their relevance, their worthiness, Sam) and creates whole new problems (the even more inconsequential Doctor than ever before, a tendency for authors to pass off big ideas as a novel, forgetting to entertain along the way). It's not nearly as good as Lawrence Miles thinks it is, but it's still Lawrence's manifesto in all its unfettered glory and that automatically gives it a high level of quality. Definitely worth reading.

Deeper Meanings by Thomas Jefferson 1/8/00

First some background. From what I can gather, Lawrence Miles presumptuously presented Interference to the BBC, not as a synopsis and draft chapter, but as a finished (and very long) book. This first draft of Interference was set on Earth and took as its theme the arms trade, both our own and touching on the one that arose as part of the war predicted in Alien Bodies. To add presumption on to presumption, this draft also wrote out Sam, featured a rather hefty guest appearance by Sarah-Jane Smith and introduced a new companion, despite the fact a new companion, Fitz, was already on the cards.

Steve Cole, to his credit, accepted this publisher's nightmare of a book: possibly because he realised his editorship was inextricably tied up with Miles - Alien Bodies being the first book that Cole commissioned - and, anyway, Miles was far and away the best writer he had. Even if he did do silly things like write entire books without asking.

But major surgery was needed. The draft was too long for the stringently kept BBC word count so Cole, rather than cut the thing down to more manageable lengths, truly threw his hat into the ring and suggested making a double volume out of it: an EDA and PDA in one story and released simultaneously. Further inspired by this, Lawrence came up with a sub-plot for Fitz and introduced the whole 'What Happened on Dust' sections featuring the Third Doctor (keeping with the EDA/PDA intention), tying these additions to the main plot with the themes of arms dealing and the multiple meanings of the title.

Understandably, there was a fair bit of anticipation and apprehension about what was undeniably going to be a true epic of Doctor Who writing. The extent of Steve Cole's anxiety we will probably never fully know (although he did contribute a short and pointless introduction to the first book which, with its use of 'foregoing normal service' might be seen as a way of apologising in advance for any criticism the book might generate). Lawrence Miles, being Lawrence Miles, summed up his attitude with the 'Twenty Rumours You May Have Heard' piece (ten of which aren't true) which was distributed beforehand. No first night nerves there.

So what do we have? Well, I think it can be summed up by saying it's not exactly enjoyable. I don't mean that in an entirely negative way, just to point out that this is Lawrence at his least endearing. If Down was him being all silly and playful (despite his protestations that it was a "descent into hell") then Interference is the opposite end of the spectrum: a big po-faced epic with serious themes about how beastly the world (and the universe) can be. It's as if he came upon an Amnesty International stall on the road to Damascus and is now fervently preaching his new-found religion to the unwashed masses.

Of course, with a book this big, Miles can't help be silly here and there (Rassilon is indeed played by Brian Blessed) but for the most part its grimness central. By tackling such a serious subject, we have wave after wave of polemicising and condemnations of 'the system'. I would like to say that this is just what Doctor Who needed, but this book ultimately proves how facile this is. Lawrence himself pinpoints the huge disparity, by questioning why the Doctor can interfere with Varos but not with Northern Ireland. Doctor Who is ultimately revealed to be a work of fiction, and a pretty 'out there' one at that. This isn't exactly news, but to even attempt to explain this disparity is to destroy Doctor Who's raison d'?re. Just as Rambo becomes ridiculous when he's used to re-fight a war that was irretrievably lost, so the Doctor becomes ridiculous when he is used to deal with the very things we as readers look to his adventures to escape from.

You can't fault Miles for ambition, but when he attempts things like this he is essentially condemning Doctor Who for something it's not. Not since The Scarlet Empress has an author so clearly held the series they love in such contempt. This is Lawrence's arrogance - the trait which formed this book like no other - shining through like a politician's smile. And that's before we get to what he does to the history of Doctor Who.

A promise that was unequivocally made prior to publication (unlike the 20 rumours) was that it would answer the oldest question in the series. Maybe people did a good impression of Deep Thought in trying to work out what this question could be before announcing themselves stumped, so the revelation that it is "Who is I.M. Foreman?" came as a bit of a surprise. How Miles answers this question is as fascinating and imaginative as anything he has yet come up with (that's a big boast when held up against the likes of Dead Romance and Alien Bodies), but the question itself is ultimately flawed. Aside from the oldest question being the very title of the show (Doctor Who?), the identity of Foreman isn't actually a question.

I.M Foreman was never a mysterious figure whose secret was waiting to be divined. In fact the assumed question is already answered by equal assumption: he was the (unaware) owner of the junk yard where the Doctor happened to land and Susan took his surname because that was all she had to call home. Okay, Lawrence is making mythologies - something he has an almost fanatical interest in - but mythologies are not supposed to answer age-old questions but pose them. If the Doctor's name is ever revealed, then the series may as well end tomorrow. He will no longer be "that mysterious wanderer through time and space", but something altogether less magical. And lessening this magic is, in essence, what Lawrence did with I.M Foreman.

I suppose there has to be a trade-off amongst writers between what they can do 'with' the series and what they can do 'to' it. There isn't a single voice dictating what can and can't happen. In fact there never has been: witness Sydney Newman's 'no bug eyed monsters' rule being broken mere weeks after the show started. Lawrence, in his quest for "mythological" status, has often entertainingly skirted with doing something 'to' Doctor Who but never quite crossed over. Until Interference. And it's far less of a book than Alien Bodies because of that. Alien Bodies asks new questions (How will the Doctor die? What is the origins and outcome of the war? Who are the enemy?) which should never be answered. Interference provides answers (I.M Foreman is... The enemy are from... The Doctor's past can be...) we really didn't want to know.

That's a whole bunch of negativity for a book I liked a lot and which I'd much rather have than just about anything being published under the Doctor Who banner. When it comes down to it, there is only one real crime in Doctor Who fiction and that is to be boring. And Interference, for all its length, is never boring. I think Interference is a very good book: fantastically well-written, great ideas, brilliant characterisation. But, as I say, it's just not enjoyable. The plot wanders around like a ball of wool batted around by a cat. It's only towards the end of Book Two that the resulting loose threads are tied to give some semblance of coherence. The characters are not easy to empathise with: The Remote live up to their names, Llewis is pathetic, Fitz gets put through a particularly nasty wringer, as does the Third Doctor. The Eighth Doctor spends most of his time in jail. Ultimately, our empathies lie with Sam and, particularly, Sarah-Jane: but their occasional presences only heighten how deeply unlovable a lot of the book is. Perhaps if the entire book focussed on these unlovable people, Interference might have been more of a success as it would have been easier to adjust our mindsets, but we end up searching too hard for the light relief. Six months after reading Interference I still don't want to re-read it. I re-read Alien Bodies the month after completing it for the first time. Dead Romance the week after.

The fall-out from Interference has been surprising. Most of the discussion it generated was entirely focussed on the conclusion to the Dust events and what happens to the Third Doctor: a real distraction from the rest of the book, and the subsequent arc it generated. This may have had something to do with Miles almost petulantly 'retiring' from the Doctor Who line, citing the reaction this book generated as one of the factors involved (what other authors have done with some of the concepts he introduced may also be a factor, but them's the breaks when you're writing for a shared universe). Steve Cole also retired as editor soon afterwards, and his last contribution to the line, The Ancestor Cell, promises to undo much of what this book introduced.

So, in the light of all these events, is Interference a success or a failure? It shares aspects of both. If all Doctor Who books were this well conceived and written, the line would justly be feted throughout the world. But it's far from perfect, and the aftermath suggests that those involved ultimately made a big mistake. Particularly sad is Miles' promise never to do another Doctor Who book again. The range needs people like him, who can look to the future rather than the past and, at his best, pose questions rather than give answers: the major fault of the worst Doctor Who novels. But because he effectively put all his eggs into this one basket, the basket was just asking to be dropped. Compare this with Dead Romance, about which there was very little pre-publicity, and is stuck very snugly into just one book, yet is widely regarded as the best Doctor Who story in any medium. Clearly, there is a lesson to be learned here about ambition and setting yourself up for a fall. But the lesson doesn't seem to have been learned and Lawrence has taken his business elsewhere, burning the drawbridge on the way. One of the main reasons why Lawrence Miles has retired from Doctor Who is that he feels he can't top Interference. He probably can't top it in terms of scope, but he can certainly do (and has done) better.

A Review by Stuart John Webb 21/2/01

Interference is probably the most talked about Doctor Who book ever written, purely because it seems to have been written less to tell a good story and more to cause as much controversy as possible ("How many people do you think we'll piss off if we kill the Third Doctor?). Still I Like it a lot, at the time it came out I was more of a casual fan than I am now with only a handful of the books, so in many ways Interference helped to convert me to the point where I now have forty of the things (admittedly that's probably pretty tame by most people's standards)!.

The first thing to note is the excellent cover design by Black Sheep Imaging, real eye catching for both books, and the way you can join the books up to make both Doctors faces is inspired.

When you've finished staring at the cover and opened the book you'll find the prologue set on Foreman's world to be absolutely delightful, a leisurely introduction to the somewhat frantic book that follows. Miles' plotting and structure is fantastic, with the time scale hoping all over the place not only making sense but actually adds more to the enjoyment of the book than if events had happened linearly. Every character is beautifully crafted and motivated, especially Lewis and the Ogron, though he seems to have a better handle on the companions, giving us the best Sam, Sarah and K9 possible (Fitz, or at least proper un-evil uncloned Fitz, is the only one to get a raw deal) while the two Doctors are only average.

The two most argued about things in the book are the eighth Doctor's torture and and the third's death. With regards to the former, I thought it was very well done and very well written. At first I thought this part was set on a alien planet and was actually shocked when it turned out to be Earth, you don't often see humans acting so evilly in Doctor Who and it made a nice twist on the somewhat tired "let's torture the Doctor" strand running through the EDA's. The Doctor's scenes with his cellmate were absolutely beautiful and just made me want to join Amnesty International. As to the latter, the Doctor got a death scene that I enjoyed a lot more than the transmitted one, but it just didn't work as we were asked to believe that this didn't affect the Doctor's timeline too much, i.e. that he'd still be on his eighth life in the "present". Really the fourth Doctor would have been killed in Planet of the Spiders and every subsequent regeneration would have been brought one forward (or something like that). If Miles is saying there was a way to survive the story he's making the third Doctor seem a idiot, if he's saying the Doctor was too weak after his regeneration to get involved in this story surely that means the Earth was overrun by giant spiders!. Actually it's a pity that a novelisation of the fourth Doctor version of Planet of the Spiders wasn't novelised as part of Short Trips and Side Steps explaining this, after all without the chase scene it would have been short story length...

I only really have two other problems with the novel, the first being I.M Foreman, not the character, who's fab, but the name. This is gratuitous fanwank at its worse, and how exactly did the Doctor live in a junk yard for six months and not notice it was really a Tardis? The second is that the eighth Doctor isn't really involved enough in the plot, in fact it works better if you think of it not as a EDA with a cameo by Sarah Jane Smith but a "K9 and Company" novel with a cameo by the eighth Doctor. Actually I've just thought, recently we've had several novels which are basically rewrites of substandard TV stories, for example Illegal Alien and Shadows of Avalon were reworkings of Silver Nemesis and Battlefield respectfully. They're the author's way of saying "This is how it should have been done", and with Interference we have the Lawrence Miles version of K9 and Company.

One final, humorous point, if you look at the Top Tens section of this website you will find a "Top Twenty Submissions BBC books would rather not receive, two of which actually did end up in books, the retconing of the third Doctor and... oh bugger, it's still spoiler protected, just go read Ancestor Cell and find out...

Doctor Who by Robert Thomas 25/3/01

I've waited over a year to review this because there is no way I could review it without spoilers.

This is a very challenging story which rewards you if you work hard to finish it and get through the various strands of the plot. Of course there are two Doctors in here, the 3rd and 8th. They have two stories that have a link which we find out as the story goes through. This isn't a story with a sequel but a story which is divided into two. With book one being parts one and two and book two being parts three and four.

The story is very complex, there are a lot of strands which are presented very differently, an aspect to the story I enjoyed a lot (I'd say that cool was my fav chapter). But its very good to be challenged in this way and you will get out what you put in.

This is Sam's last story and she puts in her best performance. The early scenes in the Tardis are amongst the best in the book. I'd say that her scene with James Stewart is the best part of the book and maybe of the range. I feel really sorry for her and what she has discovered about herself in the books leading up to this story.

Fitz, wow, never before has a companion been put through so much hell. I'm not sure if the timeline or the people he meets along the way makes sense but I get headaches when I think about it so I'll never know. But the plot twist he has which is revealed about half way through book two had me shocked. When his bits appear in the books you can't help but wonder what Lawrence will do to him next.

Sarah, utterly perfect, there is not a lot I can say really. Loved her scenes with the 8th Doctor.

K9 same as above.

The guest and supporting characters are all done well, with the best being I.M. Foreman. Lawrence you made a mistake with even bothering to bring back that name but created a good character.

The media are an original race but as I said with Fitz's subplot, I think the timeline is a bit screwed up and I have no idea if they make sense. I don't the stereotype aspect is handled as well as The Holy Terror but it gives us some sterling moments.

Faction Paradox, they do not appear much but their presence underlines the book coming to a fore at the climax. I think that the media are an offshoot experiment of Faction Paradox with the sad fate that they have no reason for existing.

Compassion is a very good baddie and comes as a shock when she joins the Tardis crew. Most of her scenes with Sam are very good. We now know what happened to her and in retrospect it is a fitting fate.

Magdelana did nothing at all for me and I loathed her.

There are of course other characters who have good moments but I don't want to go into them in detail. The scene when The Doctor, Sam and Fitz meet the guy who sent the signal is good. We get to meet an Ogron who actually has a lot to do and comes over really well.

Incidently on page 264 is a glaring hint at the climax and I can't believe I missed it the first time around.

Now onto the Doctor's and this is my only complaint of the book. Lawrence really cocked it up, not only with one but both.

The eigth doctors early scenes, on Foremans world ( I CAN'T SAY HOW GOOD ENOUGH THESE BITS ARE) and with James Stewart are excellent. The rest is done well but the whole sequence in the cell with the other prisoner is pure bullshit. I'm sorry Lawrence but in these parts you are talking out of your hole. The fact that the Doctor is too scared to meddle in Earth's history is insulting to the readers' intelligence as in over half the stories in Doctor Who EVER this is what he does. Apart from this, very well done and a good performance except that he should not have been sidelined for thee majority of the book. Although when he is rescued his actions come fast and furious, very good.

We all now know what happens to the 3rd Doctor. I wont dwell on it, I think its a very good twist that could give the range the opportuntity for some very unique stories. The Doctor does virtually nothing, the man of action lands on Dust and walks around thinking he is out of his depth even though nothing happens until near the end of book one. The Dust story is nothing special, and quite dull for the most part. Sarah and I.M. Foreman's performances and scenes bring this part to life. Incidently that cliffhanger at the end of Book 1 leaves the impression it was sledgehammered in by the editor. However the entire scene with the circus performers and faction paradox is fantastic, the bakers dirty dozen - what a twist. However at the time I wondered what the point of Father Kriener was, it's blatantly obvious who he is. All he did was give us a recognisable face in The Ancestor Cell (incidently he had a terible sub-plot in there).

The climax when what happens to The Doctor happens sticks in the mind and will be one of the best remembered moments in the range. So apart from the major flaw that is The Doctor, the book is perfect and you will put in what you get out. Incidently I hope we can see I.M. Foreman again sometime. I see Lawrence Miles if writing the 50th EDA, I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Hmmm.... by Adrian Loder 10/4/01

So let's see...this was the very first Doctor Who novel of any kind I've ever read, and I just finished it two days ago so it's fresh in my mind, something of a blessing and a curse. The rationale behind making this the first book to read basically had to do with the fact that, at heart, I'm more of an old-TV-Dr. Who kind of guy. The theory was, if I read Interference, described by several people as doing big, nasty things to the Whoniverse and being a headfuck, and don't hate it, then I'd probably be safe to continue reading in the various Virgin and BBC ranges.

So I got it for Christmas. And it sat there. For a long, long time. It wasn't that I was intimidated by the size; it's only 600 pages long, that's no Red Badge of Courage, sure, but it isn't exactly War and Peace, either.

I finally sat down with it, and three days later was finished. What did I think? To put it all very briefly, I think it's a well written, highly interesting and well plotted story that seems to be compulsively riddled with clich? heavy-handed philosophizing that made me laugh more than it made me think.

I don't know if Miles has a very flattering conception of himself, or if he simply isn't aware of how goofy and trite so many of the Deep and Meaningful parts are, but the novel would be much better without them. It starts very early on, with Sam on the rooftop, watching the COPEX crowd. "From a certain height, people tend to look like ants." You can tell he thinks he's really struck gold here because he actually says it twice, but it just made me snicker. I get the impression that the author here thinks that from a certain height, everyone looks like ants to him.

Indeed, there is a strongly patronizing tone evident throughout the novel, one example being the whole tangent about Haitian words and Voodoo cults and loa and such. It felt very much like I was being lectured, which wouldn't have been a problem, except that I, like most people, already knew most of that. That's one of the basic problems here, is that if it weren't so trite, then perhaps the patrician attitude would be acceptable; and likewise, if it weren't so patronizing, maybe I could deal with the triteness.

And by the way, this book's been out for about two years already, so I'm assuming if you want to read it, you have, so there will be spoilers all over the place as I move further on. And yes, I will eventually stop harping on the Deep and Meaningful parts of the book and get on to the good things about the novel.

But not yet.

"'There is no good and bad...just politics.'" Sigh. I could go on for awhile about this little gem, but I'll try and keep it short-ish. Aside from the fact that I don't believe it is true, at least, not entirely, it is a rather clich?statement. The whole 'good and evil are just points-of-view and there is no real morality' has been the fashionable 'alternative' moral stance for a long time now, primarily because it's shallow, generic, and barely scratches the surface of anything. Rule of Thumb #351: Most people aren't anywhere near as brilliant as they think they are, including me.

The conversation Sam and Compassion have on Anathema is another one to get into. Disregarding the fact that Sam, the default representative of my general point-of-view, is dumb as a sack of rocks and couldn't offer up a decent argument to Compassion if Immanuel-freaking-Kant sat down and wrote her one, Compassion doesn't really say anything all that Deep and Meaningful herself. This is all surface scratching, there isn't anything all that thought-provoking here at all.

And then there's the plot. You probably saw that coming, didn't you? Anyone whose favorite Dr. Who character ever was Adric is probably going to have a problem with the plot line; and so I did. I kind of knew the bare bones of the story before I read it, but I had steeled myself for really hating the story line; as it turns out, it didn't bug me as much as I thought it would. In the end, the only real catastrophic occurrence seems to be the bizarre time Fitz has hanging out with Faction Paradox, and the Third Doctor's altered place of death and regeneration. I hate to say this, but I've read a lot of Dr. Who reviews, and people who use the words Rad and Trad to pigeonhole books and readers really need to take a time-out in the corner. Apparently Interference is a 'Rad' book. Right. Being truly radical is more than just saying 'hmm, wonder what weird shit I can do to Dr. Who today'. How convenient is it that none of the Doctor's regenerations are going to be affected except/until the 8th whose history is, amazingly, not written out yet! What a way to throw everyone for a loop. In the end, despite all the weirdness and the double-plot framed by Foreman's world and all that, it didn't seem like a break from tradition at all; it seemed like something modeled on the better examples tradition has given us.

Moving onward, his treatment of the Doctor, in particular the whole 'not involving oneself with Earth's timeline' nonsense...this has been treated very well already by a different reviewer, and he makes most of the points I would, save for one: sure, Dr. Who is a character, but Dr. Who is a reality, as well, in the sense that he is a character in a now defunct television show, several book lines, and a thriving audio drama series. You can criticize him if you want, but you have to consider the limitations of his reality, as well. The Doctor was, originally, a TV character in a science fiction show aimed at educating children. In the end, though the children's aspect often got lost, and the educational element mostly disappeared, it was still a science fiction television programme. No one would have wanted to watch him deal with the IRA or stop the war between Iraq and Iran or put an end to the Cold War, etc. The reality of the world, our world, is that we wanted something that gave us an alternative to the real world, for just a little while. This reality confined the character of the Doctor somewhat, preventing him from ever being grounded in solving the various modern problems of this planet. To use Badar to corner him on the issue in a novel, then, seems a little unfair, if it's possible to be unfair to a fictional character.

Well. Now that I've crucified Interference, it's time to resurrect it. Though it would seem impossible after all that, the fact is that I really enjoyed Interference. It actually renewed my interest in Doctor Who and proved to be very interesting. Some people have complained about the length and Miles' wordiness, but I disagree, I like the book better that way. Lawrence Miles seems like a pretty intelligent guy, and he is clearly a bit more literarily-oriented to his writing than a lot of other SF authors. While that leads to the lame philosophizing, it also leads to great writing, writing that isn't cheap, shallow and slick, but which actually gives you something to sink your teeth into.

The plot, also, is mostly good. I got on its case a bit a few paragraphs above, but mostly I found it exciting, entertaining, complex and varied. Sometimes things weren't as hard to guess as might have been intended (Kode's actual identity, for starters) but overall I found that the way things were mixed up not only kept suspense up, but prevented any thread of the plot from wearing out it's welcome. The way all the characters from the Earth plot eventually are brought together in the middle of Book Two is well done.

The characters were uniformly interesting, with the sole exceptions of Sam and Alan Llewis. Sam just didn't appeal to me much, probably because her idea of proving that morality is worthwhile and good amounts to shouting 'But they blow things up for no reason!' The sections with Llewis are the only parts that really could have been edited out, he adds nothing tot he story, Morgan could easily have been enlarged just a tad to deal with some parts, and putting Llewis on the Faction Paradox warship en route to Dust was pointless. Everyone else worked great, though.

The Doctor was enjoyable, even when he mostly was bleeding and being made fun of by Miles. Guest was kind of non-descript, but not boring, Compassion was annoying in an interesting sort of way (Obviously). pre-Kode Fitz was probably my favorite character in the entire book, although the various versions of I.M. Foreman, especially his first incarnation, were quite entertaining as well. Kode-Fitz didn't really have all that much to do, and by the time he made Sarah take him to Saudi Arabia to look for the Doctor, it had become obvious who he was. Father Kreiner-Fitz irritated me a great deal, as it seems every time something horrible happens to someone, they have to blame the Doctor. There were a whole string of decisions FK-F made that led to his fate, the only other guilty parties being Faction Paradox and the Time Lord Warships. It is good to see though, from another review of a different book, that FK-F isn't the original Fitz. Sarah Jane was less than I expected, although K-9 was an amusing addition.

I did have more good things to say about this, but in the end I think the best compliment I can pay it is that it was a 600+ page book and I read it in three days. Some of the ideas were shoddy and should Lawrence Miles ever reconsider and write another Dr. Who book, perhaps a little less philosophizing would be in order, but the literate writing style (I've started reading Fall of Yquatine and no offense to Nick Walters, but the writing is abysmal compared to that in Interference) as well as the intriguing, imaginative plot, and well wrought characters, made this a very good introduction to the 8DAs and i look forward to reading more. 7.5/10

A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 18/9/01

Interference is a startlingly vast undertaking. It pushes the limits of what can and cannot be discussed in a Doctor Who story, and the book is all the richer for it. And while it doesn't manage to quite grasp everything it reaches for, what it does achieve is both powerful and thought provoking.

The book definitely has an epic feel to it, although as it's the "first ever full-length two-part Doctor Who novel" it would be a disappointment if this were not the case. The story reaches over several thousand years and intersects the Doctor's personal timeline twice. It's complicated and told from several viewpoints. It has fairly heavy themes and the attitude running through it gives it a very important feel. The atmosphere that becomes built up (particularly effective in the opening sections) makes for a spellbinding and captivating read.

This enormous, two-book, six-hundred page marathon is divided into two sections which are then split roughly in half. The first section deals with the Eighth Doctor's adventures on Earth, and the second is centered around the Third Doctor being taken out of his normal time-stream and placed on the planet Dust. The Eighth Doctor segments are also divided up into smaller pieces, each slice not necessarily taking place at the same time as the others. At times, it can be a very confusing read, although ultimately the experience is very rewarding. During a few points I had to stop reading and make mental notes about how exactly the story was unfolding and which pieces were occurring in what order. While the book definitely made me work harder at reading it than others in the EDA line, this change was quite welcome and the pay-off well worth it.

As I mentioned, this story is dripping with atmosphere. The tone is set right from the very beginning - this is a very dark story. It's also a very well told story. Lawrence Miles isn't interested in what technological nonsense the Doctor will use to escape from a prison cell, he wants to go deeper than that. He isn't interested in having Sam repeat some clichd Save The Whales slogan; he wants to explore her mind and her mentality. He's using the conventional tools of Doctor Who to tell a story that reaches outside of the normal parameters of what we expect when we see the blue logo on the cover. But he's not kicking down the ladder of Doctor Who after he's climbed up it; Sam's beliefs and experiences form the very heart of the book. Sam's politics aren't just a springboard for Miles to say Bigger and Better things about Politics, they remain under the microscope during the entire book. Miles has merely taken everything that we know about Sam and drawn them out to their logical conclusion. Who would have guessed that the result would make for such fascinating reading?

As in Alien Bodies, this story is packed full of great ideas and new pieces of excellent continuity. Here they all fit together much better and work at forming a cohesive work. The little asides and narrative passages that dragged the plot of Alien Bodies to a standstill work rather effectively here. Despite its massive length, there's very little (in the Earth sections) that doesn't contribute to the overall tone of the work. Everything just feels right, even the passages where the Doctor comforts a tortured and dying political prisoner with stories about a fantasy world of TARDISes and Time Lords. I think that in the hands of a lesser writer, this section could really have turned out to be rather embarrassing, but fortunately Miles knows what he's doing and treats the subject with the delicacy it deserves. Extra points are given for not tiptoeing around the subject matter.

In my opinion, the biggest flaw is that the themes and atmosphere don't translate properly from one part of the story to the other. The Eighth Doctor segment is about the effect of media and culture upon society, the way perceptions change people, and how close perceptions of people come to reality. With only a few exceptions, these themes are totally absent from the Third Doctor segments. The only thematic link between them seems to be Fitz's ruminations on how he is perceived (and how he will be remembered by others) and a character in the Third Doctor segments who is proud of the fact that no one will ever be able to get close enough to know the real her. The jumps between the Earth and the Dust segments seemed much more jarring because of this. If the themes had been held together more coherently, I think this would have ended up being one of the best (if not the best) Doctor Who stories written. As it stands, it's still extremely good, but somewhere well below perfection. The difference in tone between the two segments is unfortunately distracting.

All in all this is a really excellent book that is unfortunately let down by a few flaws. While the book does fall slightly short of some of it's goals, it must be commended for daring to aim so high. With the publication of Interference, the bar has been raised for all other Doctor Who books and stories. Thank you, Lawrence.

A Review by Michael Hickerson 13/12/01

One thing you've got to give Lawrence Miles -- his Doctor Who novels are never just content to be status quo. Like Paul Cornell's novels in the Virgin NA range, Miles' entries into the EDA books certainly seek to challenge and toy with Doctor Who in new and exciting ways.

And certainly the two Interference novels do that -- in spades.

This is the first two-part epic story the Who publishing range has seen. I almost wanted to say this was the first multi-Doctor story the range had seen -- my memory is trying to block out having read Eight Doctors. And while I'm glad Who has seen fit to take a risk and publish at two-book saga and while Interference was quite good, it could easily have been one longer, 400-page novel instead of two roughly 350-page novels.

Miles certainly does try a lot of new things. After we found out a great deal about Sam and who she is in the Orman/Blum's Unnatural History, we get a real examination of Sam here. And make no mistakes -- this is clearly a Sam-centered book, which is good since it's the last time we'll see her in the EDA range. In reading this book and the Orman/Blum's Unnatural History, we see how much potential there was to Sam -- and how much of that was wasted by the EDA. Yes, Sam would probably have never had the wide-spread acceptance and love that Benny did -- that's a hard act to follow -- but in Interference we see Sam moving forward and actually getting some nice character development. The events of the novel give us a new view of Sam as we see her grow up and realize that she can make a difference in the causes she yearns to fight for -- but it might have to be in a different way than she originally thought. She finds out that in any revolution, one person can make a difference -- even if it's not on a galactic scale as she would like to do.

Also of interest is the Faction Paradox, who we last heard about in Miles' Alien Bodies. They are expanded upon here in unique ways and we get more hints about the impending war the Time Lords will face (so greatly hinted at in Alien Bodies). Seeing the steps the go through to create paradoxes so they can slip in and take control are nicely done. Also seeing the Doctor forced to battle against them and not create the paradoxes they are so cunningly trying to create is nice. In a lot of ways, I was reminded of Frank Herbert's Dune in which there were plots within plots by a lot of the characters.

Miles has so many ideas that the book is just brimming with them.

That said, it's about a 100 pages too long.

For one thing, the Doctor is sent off to a prison cell -- yet again. The Doctor is separated from the action for long periods of time, which quickly get frustrating. However, I can say that Miles does make good use of this later in the novel by giving the Doctor's imprisonment a unique twist, which I'll refrain from stating here as it gives away a nice moment in the second book.

And as most of you know, this novel features both the Eight Doctor and the Third Doctor -- though it's similar to what happens in Dave Stone's Heart of TARDIS where the two don't really meet but one plotline has a huge impact on the other. We get a revision of the third Doctor's final days, which as a person who isn't overly thrilled with Planet of Spiders, I don't have too much of a problem with. Again, the third Doctor's journey to the planet of Dust with Sarah Jane Smith (who crops up in the eight Doctor section) is interesting, but it seems to go on too long. Miles does a good job of capturing the spirit of the third Doctor, late in his regeneration. Seeing this earlier, more innocent version of the Doctor is a stark contrast to the seventh and eight Doctors of the novels and shows us just how far we've come from the innocence of the Pertwee years. However, the third Doctor's story on Dust drags out at times. This plotline could be shortened by about 100 pages and I think it'd still be acceptable. Because for all the dragging this plotline does, it does lead to a certain point.

Certainly this is not a set of books that should be read lightly. Miles pulls off tricks aplenty for the Who fan and it seems to be setting up some things for later adventures (having read ahead I'm not sure if we ever get as much payoff as we should, but that's another review entirely). Overall, I liked Interference and what it tries to do with Sam and the Doctor. Miles has a good grasp on the characters -- everyone from the various Doctors to Sam to Fitz to Sarah Jane Smith to even K-9 and the odd Ogron -- come off extremely well. However, I think these books could have used a bit more editing to make them flow better.

If you're a fan of the EDA line, then these are must-read books. And if you're a fan of what Paul Cornell used to do so well in the NAs, you might want to give these a try. They're not quite there, but they're pretty darn close.

A Review by Terrence Keenan 3/5/02

Well, until Miles returned to DW with the God-like The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, his magnum opus was a two book, six hundred page plus tale of politics, beliefs and whatever other topics he felt like touching base on. And although I am glad he came back to the BBC line with AHS, I can honestly say Miles had written the be-all and end-all of Doctor Who stories with Interference.

The first complaint that one usually hears about Interference is the length. I thought it was the right size for the epic Miles wanted to tell.

Complaint #2 involves his treatment of the Doctors. I'll address this in a bit when I get into the character portion.

As mentioned, Interference is about politics, going way beyond the childish swipes at Maggie Thatcher that had appeared in some of the Virgin Books. Miles has decided to give politics a serious go and with his usual thoroughness, comes up with a million questions and a million answers to go along with them.

The plot revolves around the arms trade, Faction Paradox and events that occur in the far future as well as 1996, Earth. What we have is a story in which event spiral out of control for both Doctors when they decide to intervene -- interfere -- in the events taking place on both Earth and Dust.

I'll break down the main characters:

8th Doc -- goes through hell. Gets his ass whooped. Saves the day in the end. Very spiky, quite serious. Never the Congenial Idiot. I liked him and felt for him

3rd Doc -- very much out of his element on Dust. But still tries to do what is right and what is needed. By stripping him of the normal 3rd Doc trappings, he becomes a tragic figure. Brilliant.

Sarah -- Wow. She's fabulous. Almost a surrogate Doctor. In control, doesn't panic. The earlier version is definitley TV Sarah, and just as much fun.

Sam -- The heart and soul of the novel. Miles turns her from an annoying, sloganeering prat into a fully three dimensional character. Her politics are questions, examined and subverted. We get to really see what she stands for. And, she gets a fabulous exit. This is miles (no pun intended) away from the horrid version from Seeing I and Unnatural History, nor the generic version that some other wirters have made her. Her best ever outing in a book.

Fitz/Kode/Father Kreiner -- does get a bit of the shaft, but Miles ends up doing some very smart things with a character he was forced to add into the mix.

Compassion -- Caustic, cold, grumpy. I wanted to hug her.

Guest -- An interesting villain/non villain. Had presence when around. Possible dry run for Sabbath?

Foreman -- Another great Miles concept executed to perfection. Always had your attention whenever he/she was on the page.

The big controversy -- and what would a Miles book be without one -- is the beat-down that the 8th Doc gets in the cell in Saudi Arabia. I'll be honest in saying I am not a fan of 'torture the Doc' scenes. But, I give Miles full credit for at least trying to do something interesting with it, thematically and for not apologizing for the brutality of it either. I don't agree with what Miles does say during these scenes, but it's far more interesting than using it as a thin way to show character (see the OrmanBlum).

The Verdict? One of the most important BBC books and masterpiece #2 for Miles. A must-read for any Who fan. A must read for any fan of epic sci-fi.

10 out of 10.

Supplement, 27/1/04

Okay, it's the day after Xmas, and looking for something to do while listening to my new Lou Reed compilation CD set, I walked over to my Who books and started perusing titles. I almost chose Father Time, hovered over The Scarlet Empress, paused by Love and War, Blood Heat and Set Piece...

But Interference was the winner. Mad Larry books are a commitment for me, because I end up reading them in one go, forsaking the outside world. And, Interference, being two books meant more time in the Larryverse. But, it was a holiday weekend, so I grabbed my copy of Shock Tactics and started. Eight hours (or so) later, I closed the back page of The Hour of the Geek, big grin on my face.

Interference is quite funny. Did you know that? Some parts of Interference are close the book and howl out loud funny. The Golf joke, Sarah's threat to K9, the ancient history of Gallifrey as BBC period drama, complete with Brian Blessed as Rassilon and the moment the Remote get principles from dear old Sam.

Interference is also a polemic. Miles goes after the arms trade, secret government dealings motivated by profit and maintaining the status quo, and above all corrupt systems that will never change no matter who is in charge. Is it heavy-handed? Probably, but the fact that Miles decides to look at politics on such a different, higher level than any other Who author is something I appreciate on an intellectual level far more than having someone say/write "Thatcher is Crap." Miles attacks the tribal systems that humans seem to get entangled into, and want people to look beyond such things in order to change the world.

Interference also embraces tragedy. The segments on Dust with the Third Doctor build towards his shocking death by a character who's only doing her job. The third Doctor is very much out of his element and is frightened by what is happening, yet is still determined to be his chivalrous self, be the knight who slays the dragon. Miles manages to make the third Doctor iconic in his demise.

Interference transforms Samantha Angeline Jones. No book companion has been redeemed like this since Kate Orman reinvented New Ace in Set Piece. Sam has been defined by her politics, but what Miles shows is that Sam is actually defined by her principles, a far more interesting idea. (Looking back, I think this is what Kate Orman and Jon Blum were trying to achieve with Seeing I, but failed because they never separated the politics from the character.) So, instead of Sam screaming "Save the Whales", we see Sam's reactions to moral/ethical situations. It's a wonder to behold.

I'm convinced that mad Larry needs to write a K9 & Company novel. What Loz does with Sarah and K9.... Let's just say that every time they appeared on the page, I had a big, shit-eating grin on my face. When K9 rescues Sarah from the Remote Warehouse, I was cheering like a little kid. Miles manages to keep Sarah's exceptional personality that we all knew from the TV series, and enhance the character for the 90's. Sarah is smart, fearless, very Doctorish. The Sarah on Dust is so TV Sarah, that it was just as enjoyable, especially since we get to see what will happen.

The Remote are a brilliant concept. A race of shock troops designed to respond chaotically to local media signals is original. They tie in to Miles's "dissenting" concept for Faction Paradox. What makes the Faction so fightening is not only what they do, but their insouciance as they do it. Faction Paradox are dedicated to chaos, which is the polar opposite stance taken by the clockwork Time Lords (a point Miles brought up in Christmas on a Rational Planet). Reading Interference really wants you to hunt down and give both Stephen Cole and Peter Anghildes a foot up the ass for what they did to the Faction in The Ancestor Cell.

I found the scenes between the eighth Doctor and Badar in the prison fascinating, if a bit overdone. The main purpose of these scenes tie into the main theme of the costs of Interference. I don't think Miles is Doctor-bashing in these scenes. In fact, Miles is reinforcing that the Doctor is a fantasitc figure, one or two steps removed by reality, by having him unable to give Badar a direct answer as to why he can't interfere on Earth in this "world of ideas". The TARDIS world they create was never meant to represent the Whoniverse as we know it, nor our real world, a point I think most readers miss.

Interference manages to maintain it's power the second time around. It's a brilliant book, filled with invention, ideas, commentary and a whole herd of themes. Interference manages to reach far beyond its roots as a book tie-in to an old TV series and take its place as a proper novel, that just happens to set its epic story in the Whoniverse.

A Review by Rob Matthews 14/3/02

Miles' masterpiece? Not as good as it thinks it is? Opinions are divided, but the one thing for certain is that it's an essential piece of Who fiction. And I don't think anyone could seriously claim that it's not well-written, even if they disagree with what the writing does.

One of the greatest things about the Doctor Who format is that it's about concepts and characterisation in equal measure. I'm not actually a huge sci-fi fan outside of Doctor Who, but I love fiction that deals with big ideas, and Miles has a genius for that. He writes with the febrility of a sci-fi Salman Rushdie (and anyone who's read Rushdie's Fury will know that the man himself can't write sf for shit). There were times reading this novel when my devotion to our little show slipped and I actually found myself thinking, Miles is too good for such a small audience. Then again, he'd probably be too out there for a really big one.

So it is definitely a great read, and damn close to a great novel, albeit one for a niche market who understands the odd obscure reference to a decades-old TV show.

Miles's 3rd Doctor death stunt is of course the most contentious part, and the one that attracts the most attention. Which is in a way a shame, because it's not necessarily the most interesting part of the book, not as much as the fate of Fitz, or the depictions of the Remote and the Cold (which is truly, er, chilling), or Miles ridiculous/brilliant location of the seat of the Faction's parliament, or the 'final frontier' that is the planet Dust, or the Klein bottle... Given the potential of the idea to decisively fuck up continuity, Miles plays it reasonably safe - it takes place not far off from Pertwee's TV regeneration and uses an incarnation of the Doctor who for many is not particularly interesting from a latter-day perspective. Now the patrician befrilled one becomes a tragic innocent. The datedness of his interpretation of the role becomes the point: kids' TV hero sacrificed to the grown-up jaded universe of the book range.

The moral debate is excellent stuff, really challenging Sam, apparently for the first time. (I say 'apparently' because I haven't read that many of the early EDAs - too busy catching up on the NAs). Neither does Miles let any of us off the hook.

Nor the Doctor. I agree with some reviewers that challenging the Doctor's unwillingness to interfere in contemporary Earth matters is a bit unfair - we all know the real reason he can't is because he's a bloody fictional character -, and while it's an interesting experiment to raise the issue, I'm not sure it's worth it. It's not possible to get a decent answer without going beyond the boundaries of the fiction.

Sarah Jane is done well, older and wiser but still recognisable. Portraying her through her own notes is a good narrative device . And she still has K9 with her! And Miles writes him well, if not quite as amusingly as Gareth Roberts.

I have to take issue with criticisms of the use of the name 'IM Foreman'. It would be a valid 'pointless continuity' criticism if Miles had structured his book around Foreman, but he so hasn't. Change the name and what do you lose? A couple of references to a junkyard. The familiarity of the name merely helps us keep track of the character. And I love what Miles does with the regeneration concept as applied to Foreman. 'Foreman's world' is a stunning idea, leading us to the startling implication that the Doctor has had sex with a planet.

I don't think the book(s) is too long. In fact, the only thing I'd jettison is the author's intro. It is patronising. And it's distasteful that - as was the case with Paul Magrs and The Scarlet Empress - the BBC publishes a word from the author which involves a lot of dancing on the graves of those damn lefty Virgin NAs. Given that the BBC's 'About the author' pieces tend not to acknowledge that the NAs were Doctor Who fiction at all, slagging them off in 'Why this book is better than they were' pieces is snide and unacceptable. A very negative note to open the book with.

Whoops, and a very a negative note to end my review on. Oh well.

A Book-A-Minute Synopsis of 'Interference' by Eric Briggs 19/3/02

The Eigth Doctor: "Once I was in this book that made absolutely no sense."

IM Foreman: "Tell me about it."

The Eigth Doctor: "Okay." (he does)

The End.




Saudi Arabians: "Hey, we found the Eigth Doctor. Let's torture him." (they do)

The Remote: "Hey, we found the Doctor's human companion. Let's fuck with her mind." (they do)

The Remote: "Hey, we found the Doctor's other companion who will later become one of us. Let's fuck with his future." (they do)

Faction Paradox: "Hey, we found the Third Doctor. Let's make him one of us." (they do)

The Third Doctor: "This is wrong." (he dies)

The Eigth Doctor: "Aha, I've escaped and restored everything to normal."

Faction Paradox: "That's what you think."

The End.

Deconstructing the Doctor by Marcus Salisbury 16/8/02

Wow. In a word, this sums up Interference fairly neatly. After a few years off Doctor Who, I picked up a copy of Interference Book 2 from my local municipal library. Three months and several loan renewals later it's still sitting in front of me, dog-eared and covered in coffee-mug bumprints. This is not a book to read properly in one go.

"Visual" set pieces fairly leap from the text -- the seventies SF clich?that is Anathema, for instance, and the "tracking shot" of the city as we are shown its exact location. Other standout nightmare images include the regeneration(s) of IM Foreman, the skeletal Faction Paradox warship, the whole concept of the Cold, and so on. But I digress. Startling, poetic ideas occur in Interference at a frightening rate, even if (like the Cold) they are fire-engine red herrings. "Principles are just sequences of images," Guest states at one point, condensing a good deal of Wittgensteinian verbiage into a neat little aphorism. Interference is a monumental sequence of images, which resonate in the reader's mind as all good SF should. The principles are, as ever, what you choose to make them.

The Remote are an interesting creation. I have seen various mentions of the Borg in connection with these guys, but to me they seem a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Harkonnens in David Lynch's Dune film, down to the electronic "battle language" screeching, and the (by now) thoroughly cliched use of unpleasant medical tampering. (And there are similarities between the way the Remote's "remembrance tanks" and Frank Herbert's Tleilaxu axolotl tanks). Although the whole "look" of the Borg owed so much to Lynch's film that it's more accurate to describe the Borg as an allusion to Dune, and the Remote as a comment on both. Dune. Dust. Go figure.

Lawrence Miles struck me immediately as a clever writer, who knows the rules of the postmodern game inside out. If a "simulacrum" (as described by Jean Baudrillard) is the reflection of a basic reality which soon masks and perverts the reality, then masks the absence of the reality, then bears no relation to any reality whatever, the Remote are a "simulacrum" on several levels, as is the whole identity web of Fitz/Kode/Father Kreiner.

If we take this a step further, the whole notion of new novels developing the mythos of a long-dead TV series is a simulacrum in itself, and Interference is a commentary on this. The third Doctor is used by Miles to highlight the way in which Doctor Who has altered as a text between the early '70s and late '90s. The Third Doctor finds himself in a situation where his "heroic" moral code is ineffectual, and his naive attitude toward this situation leads him to die, literally, in the Dust. And the implicit removal of the awful Planet of the Spiders from the Who canon is surely not such a Bad Thing.

Here there be flaws, however. The Third Doctor is somewhat faceless, petulant and subdued, or maybe he just seems so when described in un-Terrance Dicks terms (no reversed neutron flow polarities, Venusian aikido, "young-old face and velvet smoking jacket", and so on). The complacent, patronising, and ultimately doomed side of this character is emphasised at the expense of whatever-it-was that kept us watching him for five years, and still does three decades later.

The Eighth Doctor is the greatest simulacrum of all: in the absence of more than 90 minutes' TV footage of him in action, he has developed into a series of possible Doctors. (Although it's good to see some consistency and depth entering the franchise from The Burning onward... it's almost like The Ancestor Cell ended with a regeneration). If Paul McGann had continued in the TV role, we would not have seen anything remotely like Interference. The sheer scale of the development of the Eighth Doctor in this and later books makes the "Cartmel masterplan" look like a minor costume change.

Sarah Jane Smith was, as ever, complex and plausible in a way most companions simply aren't. In stark contrast, however, Sam seemed a typically faceless Who companion in the mid-JNT era vein... reminding me of a letter written to DWM in the mid-eighties asking for a Buddhist monk or Ice Warrior as a companion, rather than the endless bland '80s types. Nice exit scene though, Jimmy Stewart notwithstanding. Compassion/Tobin and Fitz/Kode at least had some kind of complexity about them, and Father Kreiner was an incredible creation, combining malice and misfortune in a way reminiscent more of Dr. No than Doctor Who. In terms of plot, however, Interference is a masterpiece. Some reviewers have seen its labyrinthine plot as a flaw, however it is the way in which Miles develops it that makes Interference stand out from other densely-plotted 8DA novels (War of the Daleks for instance, which is positively hamstrung by the sheer amount of information it attempts to convey). IM Foreman and his travelling freakshow have been commented on excellently in other reviews, but the concept of a pilgrimage from Gallifreyan monk to entire planetary ecosystem is pure poetry. Walt Whitman, to be precise: I am large, I contain multitudes. Beautiful stuff, and my hat goes off to Lawrence Miles for creating such an enthralling, thought-provoking continuation of Doctor Who's rich mythology.

This is surely the hight point of the whole "future war" arc, one light years away from the dying fall of Ancestor Cell. Other reviewers have made this point, but Miles surely couldn't have written himself out of the Gordian knot of Interference... although it would have been nice to see him try. The big questions remain unanswered at the novel's conclusion: who exactly are the Enemy? What happens to Kreiner? Who the hell is Grandfather Paradox, and did the Grandfather once threaten a travelling companion with a jolly good smacked bottom? Can anyone spare a copy of Alien Bodies? (All inquiries considered, especially if you'll trade for War of the Daleks). I read Interference cold, with no knowledge (at the time) of the controversy and fandom-menace that surrounded its initial release. I didn't even know anything about Lawrence Miles's "retirement" from Doctor Who and subsequent return to the scene, or the hasty and ill-advised reset that was The Ancestor Cell. From that perspective, Interference was, and remains, a Very Good Book, and maybe even the most startlingly original deployment of the show's conventions and characters ever produced. I missed the fallout from the initial release of Interference, and I'm glad I did. Standing alone, this book can't be praised enough. To quote that pioneering postmodernist Friedrich Nietzsche, what doesn't destroy the Doctor makes him stronger.

Interference renewed my fascination with a series I've watched, on and off, since the mid-1970s. This is Doctor Who truly holding its own with the greats of science fiction, and there really is no higher praise.

A Review by Donald McCarthy 5/2/05

This book is the one that Lawrence Miles has constantly called his best. It isn't. Alien Bodies and The Adventuress of Henrietta Street are both better than Interference.

Now, I'm not saying Interference is bad. It isn't, it's actually very good. Lawrence Miles is my favorite Who author so I looked forward to this one quite a bit. The plot of the book is really very good and it feels up a book quite nicely. The keyword being: A.

Interference would've been a heck of a lot better if Cole and Miles decided to shorten this book to one volume. Alas, it's two and I feel the first one suffers from this. Especially the "What happened on Earth" section.

The "What Happened on Earth" section of Book One is, well, a bit boring. Sure, some stuff happens but not a hell of a lot. The best bits are those with the Doctor in a cell along with his cell mate. These scenes blow every other part of this section out of the water.

Then we get to the "What Happened on Dust" section. Now, I don't like the 3rd Doctor. I don't know why, really, but he just doesn't do it for me. Nevertheless this part of the book was my favorite. The last line really makes you want to get to Book Two.

Book Two is an improvement over Book One. Quite an improvement. The Earth section really picks up steam with some fast moving scenes and revelations (which by this time I already knew but they were still shocking). Then the Dust section is even better. Book Two is a hell of a book. Really good stuff.

As for characterization all that I can say is that Miles really gets all of them down pat. Both Doctors are exceptional and Sarah Jane is a welcome addition to the group. I'm not too sure about Compassion, mind you.

All in all could've done with some trimming but still really good. Would've liked more on the Faction and the war, though.

Book One: 8/10

Book Two: 9/10

A Review by Brian May 26/6/09

Whoah, a review of Interference! Where do I begin?

Funny, I said something similar at the start of my review of Alien Bodies. Lawrence Miles's previous "big" Doctor Who book laid the groundwork for future stories, giving us a tantalising glimpse of what is to come for the Eighth Doctor. Interference is where Miles picks this up. It's a mammoth two-book story, over 600 pages, yet hardly anything from Alien Bodies is answered or resolved at all. Dark Sam has been dealt with already, in Unnatural History. The future war, the unknown enemy and the Celestis are all skimmed over; a few scraps of information are dispersed, but that's about it. It's tempting to say this adventure primarily deals with Faction Paradox, but even they're in the background, making fleeting appearances and mostly allowing their presence to be felt through the results of their actions

But that's just a summary. This is meant to be a review.

To start with, Interference is a story of messages. Well, two mainly. The first is a warning about mass media. Basically, don't allow yourself to be brainwashed by it; don't be a slave to image and appearance; think for yourself and give a damn! Otherwise you'll end up like the Remote, the epitome of an apathetic, signal-drenched culture. (It's a pity this book pre-dates the onslaught of reality television; I can imagine Lawrence really going to town on this!)

In his foreword, Miles calls Interference a fable, disassociating himself from any political stance. And rather disingenuously so in my opinion. The other message of his book is an anarchist one. Miles says the book is about "the systems that hold our culture together", albeit from a very pessimistic view, and these are exactly what he's aiming to bring down. He's not necessarily rallying his readership to take up arms or bricks and smash the state as such, but he makes it clear there are plenty of corrupt governments in the Earth of 1996 that need removing, and the Black Seed Movement seems determined to remove them during the next century - rather too forthright to be just a fable.

Interference isn't just a couple of forthright messages, of course. Like Alien Bodies, the scale is sweeping. Like Alien Bodies, a lot happens. And at the same time, as with Alien Bodies, not much seems to happen at all. It's a paradox, but you couldn't have a more apt book for it, could you? The Doctor spends virtually all of Book One in a Saudi cell. Fitz's abduction, ordeals and eventual transformation into Father Kreiner take up a small percentage of page time. There's lots of exposition, (partial) explanations and characterisations, although at the expense of pace. You couldn't really say there's a plot. Rather, a series of occurrences. Nevertheless we're constantly bombarded, overwhelmed and at times disturbed as Miles further strips away any cosiness or sense of escapism we may have once enjoyed. The nasty, big bad real world has enroached upon Doctor Who before - the Eric Saward era, the early New Adventures - but here it's something different. Amidst all this, we don't have a dark, manipulative Doctor, as per the NAs, but an ineffectual one. A Doctor whose sins are of omission.

Here we have the Doctor condemned for his inactions. It's not a deconstruction, rather a demolition. I'm not sure if this directed at the eighth Doctor personally, but I tend to agree with the viewpoint - mentioned in previous reviews - that Miles is more than a little harsh. Why the Time Lord gets involved in revolutions on alien planets but doesn't tackle non-fictional regimes on Earth is the primary example of this. Is it a valid argument? I'm sorry, I've thought long and hard and still have no answer for that. (Perhaps I still like a little layer of protection from "reality"?) The Doctor is put through intense and graphic physical torture - his drawing equations around the cell with his own blood is nasty indeed - and at story's end he has done nothing. He has to be rescued from his prison; he cannot remember where he lost Fitz; he has no real bearing on the story and this is where Miles's vitriolic disdain can really be seen. His attitude to the third Doctor is not as damning as this, yet it's still fairly condescending. Doctor 3 reflects on his regeneration and romanticises his idiosyncrasies (Book One, pp.297-298); the postmodern, in-the-know fans who hate Jon Pertwee and his Doctor (because they've been told they should, as was the trend in the 1990s) can disdainfully tut-tut at how self-deluded he is, as he was just an arrogant, patriarchal, pro-establishment authority figure (etc etc) after all. This attitude is upheld in Book Two. On pp.230-231, what could have just been accurate descriptions of the third Doctor's body language and verbal traits turn into mimicry and mockery. Going back to Book One (p.298 again) we read:

"He'd taken on the clothes of a romantic, and he'd ended up living in a romantic's world."
It's the third Doctor he's talking about, but it's in this line that the similarities to the eighth are so definitively elucidated, giving credence to the theory that it's these two incarnations that have been earmarked for Miles's wrath.

But back to the other spoonfuls of discomfort. As already mentioned, Fitz's story takes up a very small portion of the book. But it's a harrowing, dreadful ultimate fate for him. Even more so a companion - someone we're used to, and expect to be resuced by the Doctor. But it doesn't happen this time. Two moments really got to me. Fitz contemplating suicide on the top of the tower; and the result of his not doing so: Father Kreiner. The vague recollections, that are not quite memories, of what he used to be running through his mind are upsetting enough, but given his inner thoughts are written so in character for Fitz, it's very distressing in its authenticity.

But there's something I haven't yet looked into. Is Interference any good? Yes. It's astoundingly good. Miles's writing is up to its usual high standard as he plays around with narrative, continuity and linearity (there's no real beginning or end). If you knew in advance it would feature two Doctors, Sarah Jane, K9 and the Ogrons, you'd be forgiven for initially dismissing this as a fanwank-filled indulgence. However, it's anything but. Characters are exquisitely good; my favourites are Llewis and Magdalena. Despite the aforementioned character assassination, the third Doctor is excellently written. Both versions of Sarah Jane are well rendered and nicely contrasted. Sam Jones, so often a zero-dimensional piece of cardboard and an annoying cliche to boot, gets a magnificent send-off. Hell, why couldn't Miles have written every story of hers? At the end of this adventure she's actually someone who will be missed! She gets a special honour: she's appointed by Miles to answer the book's anarchist call to arms, for it is she who writes the afterword, the Black Seed Movement's third manifesto; a deduction you can make if you pay attention. Like the moment when Kode smokes a cigarette and you realise he's Fitz "remembered"; a revelation delivered very casually and innocently, yet still managing to startle.

I've mentioned before there is Miles's usual mix of little action and big concepts. Well, the concepts are not just big, they're mind-blowing. The truth behind Anathema and the Cold. The Eleven-Day Empire. The universe in a bottle. I.M. Foreman and his travelling show. John Peel thought he was being clever explaining away a few Dalek stories, but to retcon one of the Doctor's regenerations!?! Now, that's what I call impressive! Dust is one of the most meticulously and evocatively described worlds I'd never want to visit in a million years. This is all wondrous stuff. There are individual moments of terror: the Faction faces staring out of the blown-up photos, Llewis's childhood fears of the gas mask; humour, such as Iris Wildthyme's hilarious cameo; and the not so humorous, such as Fitz's fate and the ordeals of Badar, the book's other tragic figure. Very tragic, in fact.

This is going to be a brief conclusion, for it's a nigh impossible story to summarise concisely. Lawrence Miles is a very agenda-driven writer, and it shows in his vision of the Whoniverse. It's a grand, sweeping, frightening, disturbing, sad, occasionally funny and always cynical place. Interference is a magnificent blend of all this. 9/10

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