The Future History Cycle
The Future History Cycle Part Six
|Author|| Jim Mortimore and
|ISBN#||0 426 20388 7|
|Synopsis: The Doctor, Ace and Benny travel to an orbital base around the planet Lucifer, the site of an expedition trying to communicate with the Angels who live there. Investigating sabotage, the Doctor discovers the Interplanetary Mining Corporation (IMC) to be behind it, sending an extradimensional alien named Legion to take over the base. But just who is IMC's contact on the base?|
A Review by Tammy Potash 3/10/00
Even the mighty Jim Mortimore was not above fanwank. In this book, they use zeiton-7 and hymetusite crystals as a power source. (And if you can name both those references you are a sad fan indeed- grin) There are other continuity references, but they add rather than detract, like the use of Krau and Trau in the future, consistent with Caves of Androzani.
This book marked the start of the careers of the fantastic Jim Mortimore and Andy Lane. Fortunately they realized they didn't work well together. In this book their styles nearly pull the narrative apart. It's a good thing Virgin gave them separately another chance. This book is very weak. It seemed that Andy Lane created interesting original characters, and Mortimore thought up ways for them to die.
The origianl chacters are better than the regulars, which is something of a first for Who. The Doctor is at his darkest here, and even I had a hard time liking him. Ace. Oh dear god. Ace has just rejoined the TARDIS crew in Deceit, and she's worse in this book, actually turning against the Doctor and coming across as a mindless little soldier. She'll get better, but this was alienating to Ace fans. Benny doesn't have much to do or say here that define her as a person. Mortimore would have trouble with her in Eternity Weeps, too, while Andy Lane succeeded fantastically with her in All-Consuming Fire. Both women got to shine in the neglected Parasite.
The Legions are introduced here, and they are fascinating. The Adjudicators who would become so important in Original Sin and other books are introduced here also. A lot of people are/were/will be upset by what the Doctor does to Legion, but it had been a long time coming. The NAs were about his fall and redemption anyway, so this doesn't bother me so much as it did others, as long as it doesn't become a habit. If any Doctor had to do what he does, it would be the 7th.
The cover is not at all to my taste, although the medicine wheel is nice. The interior illustrations are a neat concept which we don't see used often enough. I'd love to see them introduced to the BBC line! I like some of the stylistic tricks here, such as the opening of the book (page 13) and the various interpretations of a conversation the Doctor may have had with someone which leads to their death... possibly. But when the murder mystery is resolved, the book ought to have ended. Instead there follows some absurd stuff which nearly wrecks everything good that happened so far. Humor is attempted maybe once, but it fails. This is a grim little book, and no mistake, far grimmer than even Set Piece.
It's a hard book to like. I don't know, but I'll bet it didn't do well in the rankings. I can't recommend anyone searching this out, even to see the beginning of two greats... 4 out of 10.
Full of Fanwank, but brilliant by Ed Swatland 23/5/01
What a good book! A considerable improvement over Deceit, but Deceit was all right-ish. The book is the first NA to be written by two people, and before reading this book, the only knowledge of Jim Mortimore’s work was the poor BBC fourth Doctor book Eye of Heaven. Anyway, many reviews have commented that the two authors styles jar. Well I didn’t notice any jarring. I thought Lucifer Rising to be a complex, entertaining and intelligent book.
Characters first. They were brilliant - the best since Love and War! The Doctor was jammed into the sidelines as the relationships between the characters unfolded; Miles and Piper, Paula and Miles, Paula, Sam, and Cheryl, Christine and her mother, and the Doctor and Ace. My favourite character had to be Bernice. She was great again, and totally beat Ace in the character stakes. I found Ace’s behaviour disorientating and unnecessary. Why did she betray the Doctor then come back on his side so quickly?
The plot was extremely complex and followed two strands. A character-ridden piece and a gory action tale. I found both to be well handled and strong, but I found Legion to be a ridiculous villain. Wouldn’t some Marilyn Manson-like bogey-man have been more effective? What the Doctor does to him has been extremely controversial in fan circles. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
A general comment that not many of you will agree with is that the book should have been longer to achieve maximum impact. The ending (good as it was) was over to quickly. A minor niggle is that the geography of the book was never explained fully. It kept you guessing to where everything actually was. This book is also full of fanwank, references to Zyton 7, the Hydrax, the Macra and loads more pop up here. See if you can spot them all! But I wasn’t at all annoyed. The book has some nice stylistic tricks. You never get to see the TARDIS crew meeting the team on the base. It’s quite confusing at first.
Tammy Potash's review said that Lucifer Rising is a ‘grim little book’. It is gory at times and there is a sense of foreboding, but not grim. Just enjoy the characters and how everything comes together at the end. I see Lucifer Rising as the beginning of a new era for the Na’s. An excellent new companion, Ace now being a stronger presence aboard the TARDIS and the Doctor almost unrecognisable from TV.
Overall, Lucifer Rising is a very, very good book, and has been unfairly criticised in the past. I recommend it whole-heartedly. Oh yeah, it’s also got some groovy illustrations as well!
A Little Too Much by Robert Thomas 22/1/02
I was well pleased to find this in my stocking for Christmas. I'd meant to get around to getting it for around a year now, so it was pretty good that I didn't have to.
It's interesting to go back to the books of this time in the series. Strange thing is that similar things are being attempted with the current range. Thankfully though the book hasn't dated too badly, except for Ace who tends to stick out like a saw thumb for most of the book.
There's a lot of good ideas at work and at times the book feels very epic, despite its fairly claustrophobic setting. The characters are good and the story is good, mainly about a murder and a group of scientists finding out about a strange planet.
I'll say this right now, its a fully enjoyable book with loads of good bits and worth the trouble of finding it. The Doctor is surprisingly ever-present for an NA and Bernice is as good as ever. However Ace troubled me throughout the majority of the book, I had the feeling that if her motivation wasn't explained well I wouldn't like the book. Thankfully it was. So go and dig it up, its a very good book, good science fiction elements as well as spiritual.
However the book has a flaw that spans almost every page of the book. It's a good debut, both Lane and Mortimore showing what they can do, Lane would go on to write some more good Doctor Who books and so would Mortimore (as well as forming a comedy double act with Vic Reeves). However the book feels like Lane contributed 75% and Mortimore 75%. Theres a bit too much in here and at times the book doesnt know what it wants to be. Added into this is the fact that it reaches a natural conclusion and then it carries on for about 40 pages that doesn't really add much. In short they both could have trimmed enough material for a second book.
A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 3/6/02
When seeing the two names listed as authors and then looking at the size of Lucifer Rising (it was the longest New Adventure when it was first released), I had to wonder if perhaps some editing would have been in order. Now after reading it, I would say that my hunch was vaguely correct, but that those problems don't have a hugely adverse effect. The book could have done with either a little more editing or perhaps another draft, but these complaints are minor enough to not stand in the way.
Despite its length, Lucifer Rising still doesn't quite manage to flesh everything out to its potential. Rather it uses its size to add more plot threads and intriguing characters than the average New Adventure would contain. The leisurely pace allows the characters and setting to develop gradually, and the result is quite effective. We get a very good feel for these people and their situation, so we really empathize with them when everything starts going wrong in later chapters. The scale feels much larger here than it does in the general Doctor Who story. True, this is a story does span a planetary system, but even the scale of the plot has a larger feeling. The authors aim big and they achieve much of what they attempt.
Some of the prose is quite fantastic. Not only are the authors (well, one of them at least) adept at the art of creating three-dimensional characters, but much of the imagery contained here is awe-inspiring. The hard science-fiction concepts of the beginning sections are fleshed out in a sublime fashion that manages to be both detailed and epic. Instead of the familiar Doctor Who characters and themes being dominated by the sheer size of the story, the regulars fit comfortably inside this weighty science-fiction story.
I quite enjoyed Lucifer Rising. I liked the slow start; the science-fiction concepts are handled quite well and the authors don't let them fall into cliches. While the book goes more in the direction of having lots of fairly developed characters rather than fewer but more distinct people, this does work to its advantage. Parts of the book seem slightly fragmented, but this was definitely a story that I appreciated.
A Review by Terrence Keenan 12/12/03
To describe Lucifer Rising in one word, you have to use "convoluted".
It's a wild mix of fanwank and bizarro sci-fi concepts. It falls apart about halfway though and becomes a series of "then suddenly" moments that feel artificial. Tack on a lot of characters I didn't care for and you have a dire mess.
It is Jim Mortimore's and Andy Lane's debut. Their styles do not mesh. It seems to me that the big concepts -- Lucifer, the religious angle, Legion -- come from Mortimore, while the characters and plot machinations come from Lane.
The big problem is that there's no one to care about. Not a character you can sympathize with, or work up a good hate on. If you can't care about the characters, then you end up disengaging from the story.
Said story is fairly straightforward, but it's in the little plot details where things fall apart. Moments of mystery and intrigue abound, but are set aside, or resolved in cliche ways. Even the biggest moment -- will Ace side with Legion or the Doctor? -- is resolved in the poorest and lamest of fashions. I won't rehash it; suffice to say, it's a complete cop out.
It's a first novel. And you can see some of the Mortimore weirdness coming through in the construction of Lucifer, which owes a bit to Forbidden Planet. There are a couple of strong action scenes. But there are lots of indulgences by the authors in terms of fanwank, which drag things down.
In the end, Lucifer Rising is a disaster, not worth reading..
A Review by Finn Clark 20/2/04
Lucifer Rising is one of the lesser-regarded NAs, but I've always liked it. I was impressed back in 1993 and ten years later I still enjoyed it second time around. It's very Mortimore-ish in places, but I'm a fan of Jim's work so that wasn't a problem for me.
Firstly it's the nearest Doctor Who has come to hard SF, more akin to Allen Steele than Harry Harrison. The only other serious competitors for this title are Parasite, Suns of Caresh and maybe even Transit, but Lucifer Rising leaves them all in the dust. It has hard astrophysics, event horizons, Roche Limits, Dyson spheres, a big unknowable Artefact (like Parasite) and more. The back cover points out Andy Lane's physics degree (though it doesn't mention Jim Mortimore's love of Native American mythology). The worldbuilding on display here is astonishing, far more impressive than the ideas of Big Concept books like The Infinity Doctors or Sometime Never... by being more specific and less of a handwave. We have moons connected by a monofilament bridge. We have Angels flying in the metallic atmosphere of a gas giant called Lucifer. And everything's honestly presented as real science, instead of being tossed off with a misremembered New Scientist headline and some made-up technobabble.
Of course hard SF novels often don't have much of a plot. It's the "idea as hero" notion, as unpacked by Kingsley Amis. Lucifer Rising eventually departs from this convention, but for the first 200 pages (out of 346) the only story developments are murder mystery ones. This isn't an action-adventure story but a Russian doll of intellectual puzzles. You're invited to think your way through what's going on. I found the environment fascinating in itself, keeping my attention fixed despite the absence of the usual gunfights and space chases, but if you can't stand hard SF then you'll probably be bored silly. However the chief villain, Legion, is high-concept weirdness and one of the most interesting aliens the books have produced to date.
Even such a book needs characters, though, and fortunately Lane & Mortimore oblige. The crew of the Eden project are convincing enough, with odd chunks of backstory slipped in when you don't expect 'em. [With Miles Engardo, it's very odd backstory.] The TARDIS crew are fine - even New Ace, whose psycho bitchness is part of the story for once instead of just a background annoyance. She's hard to like as a person, but at least she's actually going somewhere. However the Doctor in particular gets some nice moments  and I didn't even mind the infamous "Welcome to hell, Legion" scene. After all the angsting that led up to it, I couldn't see it as an Arnie one-liner... in fact I have more of a problem with the preceding moral philosophy.
 - "The Doctor smiled. There was something faintly out of control about that smile."
There's an ugly slab of fanwank, which for laughs I'll blame on Andy Lane. We get the Grand Order of Oberon, Adjudicators, the Hydrax, zyton seven fused with hymetusite, zelanite, Panorama Chemicals, IMC, more IMC, Kroagnon, vraxoin, the Macra, the honorifics Trau and Krau... it's all here and more. (As an aside, this book seems to assume that Caves of Androzani was a 22nd century story, giving everyone extended lifespans and calling each other Krau and Trau, but everyone else has ignored 'em and dated it to the 29th century instead.)
Future history... sheep are extinct thanks to the Ozone Purge of 2016 (p100), as are sparrows (p320). America's economy collapsed in 2146, leading to food riots (p158) that we saw in more detail in the prologue to Parasite. There's also mention of the Thousand Day War from Transit, here simply referred to as the "Martian invasion" circa 2090.
Lucifer Rising becomes more conventionally Whoish two-thirds of the way through, with IMC soldiers and Legion as the bad guys. I was almost disappointed, though I'm sure many people breathed a sigh of relief. However to my delight the book has a Mortimore ending, except for being mostly comprehensible (apart from the Berniceacedoctor bit). This is a long book but it kept me reading happily. Critics have accused it of having a body count instead of a plot, but by Mortimore's standards it's downright restrained and I was happy to enjoy it for what it was. Hard SF in Doctor Who. Who'd'a thunk it?
Gobsmackingly good! by Joe Ford 1/11/04
The best New Adventure I have ever read.
Despite a few niggles that only bother you after you have finished this is a fabulous book, it is complicated, involving and highly engaging. It's a massive 340 pages long but I whizzed through it in two days, despite its numerous plot threads and huge cast it is a effortlessly readable book, superbly characterised and layered with twists.
I cannot imagine why everyone on this site has bitched and moaned about it.
The combination of Andy Lane and Jim Mortimore is enough to get me excited without picking up the damn book! Let's face facts, Lane is the BEST writer the NAs had and Mortimore, despite the odd book of inconceivable awfulness has a better hit rate than most and when he hits, he HITS. This book is a mix of their best characteristics, Lane's eyes for believable characters and adult material mixed with Mortimore's ability to pepper his books with hard SF ideas and blood pumping action... add to the mix both writers' superb prose style and you have a intelligent and thoughtful story, nourishingly written.
Have the seventh Doctor, Ace and Bernice ever been better written for? Well, Benny maybe who is sidetracked to make way for the explosive Doctor/Ace relationship, which is going through its roughest patch ever. I loathe Ace, so many books forget she is a character and write her as a walking bad mood with a gun but Lucifer Rising manages to salvage the rubbish return she had in Deceit by exposing their ill feeling towards each other and pushing Ace further from the Doctor's manipulative grasp than ever. Their relationship is integrated into the book superbly and paves the way for a phenomenal twist halfway through when it transpires she is working for the enemy and has manoeuvred the Doctor into this situation on purpose, manipulating him the way she perceives his chess moves with his companions. Lane/Mortimore create a believable, mixed up character in Ace, allowing the reader to sympathise with her confliction between IMC and the Doctor and even include a brilliant flashback to Love and War that forces the two characters to deal with their unspoken ill feeling.
What a Doctor! Had the seventh Doctor been written this well in every book I wouldn't bitch about him so much!!! Rather than this awe-inspiring figure of knowledge, this is a return to the frantically improvising Doctor of old, albeit with a few tricks up his sleeve. He is written with a great sense of humour too, spotlighting McCoy's joyous moments on screen, collecting pins, relishing the chance to explore and basking in the wonder of the Lucifer system. Whilst it should seem totally jarring having the Doctor deal with the emotional issues of his companions, it works a treat, the Doctor desperate to get through to Ace and convince her he loves her and always does what he does for the best. When the Doctor asks Bernice and Ace to trust him at the climax and melt into each other to stabilise the Morphic Controls there is a bond between them that is rarely felt in subsequent books.
The scenes between Bernice and Ace sizzle with tension, when she shoves a gun in Benny's face you have to wonder how they will ever be friends again. "Why do you hate me Bernice?" "I don't hate you Ace, I hate what you've become."
The Lucifer system is a wildly imaginative SF setting worthy of the great Lawrence Miles. The writers wisely inform the reader of the entire set up early on in a scene between three characters arguing about funding and progress in the Lucifer system. It gives the writers the chance to explore the system in more depth than the average Doctor Who book and still leave lots of mysteries to solve throughout the story. The crux of a good story is a healthy dose of fascinating mysteries... Where are the Angels on Lucifer? What is the purpose of the Mushroom chamber? Who built the Bridge between the Moloch and Belial? Who is the saboteur intent on bringing the mission down? ...and this story as you can see is packed with them.
I can see more of Mortimore's hand in the weirder science-fiction imagery but balanced with Lane's sense of pace and character it doesn't jar as much as usual. You've gotta love the scenes on Moloch with the interior dense jungle growing up the planet walls or the depths of gaseous atmosphere penetrated by Paula's starpod, liquid clouds and floating angels. I'm not a great lover of hard SF stories when they jettison character in favour of ideas (anyone read Iain M. Banks?) but the balance here is just right, seeing the alien worlds from a very human perspective allows us appreciate its beauty and terror.
A huge criticism I have read above is that the characters are just there to be killed rather than powering the book. Have you read the book? I mean seriously? The characters are vital to the twisty turny plot and each one is explored with more depth than you would imagine this sort of book would be capable of. A twisted love triangle between Cheryl, Sam and Paula affords the book some human drama, especially when Cheryl gets the opportunity to confront the killer of both her lovers (oh and it provides a shocking moment when Ace finally snaps and turns on the Doctor). The touching relationship between Miles and his daughter Paula is dealt with sensitively and thoroughly, amazingly so considering Paula dies in the first scene. Alex Bannen is just the sort of arrogant, selfish character that populates Doctor Who books, hindering the Doctor and yet a touching twist about his wife and son changes your perspective of him halfway through (and his instability provides the action-charged climax). I loved Adjudicator Bishop and his mind games with the Doctor, each thinking they have the upper hand. When they eventually work together the true saboteur doesn't stand a chance. Christine the eternal psychologist provides much comedy and drama, especially when dealing with her hatred of her mother. Miles and Piper share an unspoken affection for each other that causes a lot of trouble considering where Piper's allegiances lie...
...it's excellent how the characters all intertwine with each other, there's a lot of relationships to deal with whilst unravelling the mysteries of the Lucifer system but the writers never lose track of any of them and manage to keep on surprising us with their quirks and twists.
An atmosphere of doom pervades the book; we are never allowed to forget the characters are trespassing on alien soil and that the non-invitation can be revoked at any point. When the Bridge starts to bed and warp, sending the Lift spiralling and killing several characters, it is clear this is a precarious situation before the bastards from IMC arrive. The pace of the book is superb too, blood pumping action never out of sight, a twist (be it of character or plot or both!) fulfilling its obligatory appearance every twenty pages or so and all the plot threads building in tension towards the emotionally charged climax.
It wouldn't be me if I didn't mention the few nitpicks I had, especially finicky because I enjoyed the experience of reading the book so much. Annoyingly you never actually discover anything about the society of the Angels aside from their religious beliefs (which is covered a bit too quickly, nobody saying how they actually KNOW the heaven/hell situation) and the fact they transcended themselves into ethereal beings. Why did they do this? Did the Angels build the Morphic Device? If not... then who? Whilst most of the questions raised are answered well, these few are left strangely forgotten.
Plus the first two hundred pages are the best of the book, before IMC arrived I was enraptured in the atmosphere and mystery of the book but suddenly we were in definite Doctor Who territory with brutish thugs pushing our heroes around. The last fifty pages make up for this lull; the turbo-charged ending leaving me frantically turning each page.
And what's with all the totally pointless continuity references? Thank God we got rid of those in the latter EDAs...
And I actually laughed out loud at the pair of fucks on page 257... oi Lane and Mortimore, it ain't funny and it ain't clever!
An astonishing piece of work and much needed by the New Adventures, only two books reaching anywhere near this standard in the previous thirteen. It is a perfect example of everything going right for the NAs, a fascinating setting, a shocking plot, solid characters, brilliant use of the regulars and a distinctive and engaging prose style.
I cannot think of a single NA I have loved this much.
A Review by Brian May 22/1/05
Lucifer Rising is a demanding read, but not an unrewarding one. The joint Doctor Who debut of Jim Mortimore and Andy Lane is a strong announcement of two authors to watch out for. It's a breathtaking book, with some fascinating and wondrous hard sci-fi concepts. On a down note, it's overlong, although not as arduous as the preceding book, Deceit, which dragged for 325 pages and could have lost a hundred of them. Lucifer Rising has a staggering 346-page count and could also have been trimmed, but only by 60 or 70. It's like an otherwise fine six or seven part television story that could have been a couple of episodes shorter.
The first two-thirds are terrific, with some incredibly imaginative writing. The system of planets is fascinating. The hard science fiction referred to above is displayed in the worlds of Lucifer, Moloch and Belial, with the Bridge, the Pit, the Angels and the Mushroom Farm all combining to create a truly amazing, alien environment. Their descriptions are very detailed - a lot of thought has been put into their realisation, while never becoming verbose or incomprehensible - despite some elementary technobabble, the basic concepts fall into place in the reader's mind. The authors also take some different and interesting approaches in their writing style. The first couple of chapters see the narrative adopt different points of view via a simularity used by Adjudicator Bishop as he attempts to piece things together. It's a novel way of getting round the usual random, floating-in-and-out streams of consciousness unavoidable in fiction. But, of course, the simularity method has its limitations, which the authors concede, so thankfully it's discontinued after a few chapters. But it's an intriguing idea, and the writers should be congratulated for some innovation.
The characterisations are another factor of the book for which the writers deserve high praise. The majority of the non-regulars are excellent. Excellent. Miles, Piper, Christine, Cheryl, Bannen, Bishop and Paula are incredibly believable. We learn what makes these people tick (without the need for the simularity device!). We have Miles's devotion to his Native American heritage, his grief following his daughter's death and their unresolved relationship. Piper, revealed to be the spy, is not portrayed as an antagonistic character. Rather, she's desperate, hiding the pain of her missing husband; her subversive work for IMC is a result of her efforts to find him. Bishop, the authoritative and bureaucratic Adjudicator (who has an excellent series of interactions with the Doctor) is all confidence on the outside, but the reader gets to eavesdrop on his hidden fears and vulnerabilities. Bannen is similar, his aloof arrogance shielding a dark secret that has made him emotionally unbalanced. Smaller characters, although not as intricately examined as the principals, nevertheless have their own bursts of individuality (Jesus and Tiw in particular).
These characters' interactions with each other are refreshingly naturalistic; the more intimate relationships are impressively mature - not in the typical "adult concepts in Doctor Who" New Adventures trademark way, but genuinely so. The strained partnership between Sam and Cheryl could be any marriage, while the latter's affair with Paula is handled very sensitively - a far cry from the sleazy male fantasy lesbianism of Deceit. A terrific moment in Lucifer Rising that reinforces the excellent character writing comes after Zehavi stumbles across the body of Moshe-Rabaan. The narrative flits around each of the principals - devoting no more than a paragraph to each - providing a snapshot of what they are simultaneously doing, thinking, feeling, imagining. They either emphasise a facet of the person(s) the reader is already aware of, or they hint at deeper secrets not yet revealed. The sentence that sums this up,
"All over Belial, people slept, talked, wept, ate and otherwise lived their lives." (p.95)does so in an evocative, beautiful and dramatic way. Wow, not for a long time have I read characterisation this rich in Doctor Who fiction.
So how do the regulars hold up? Well, not as good as the others, but there are moments. At times the Doctor is the aloof, manipulative McCoy incarnation we've been used to; at others he's confused and unsure of what is going on, merely reacting to events as they happen. And I quite like the notion that, from the Belial base crewmembers' point of view, the Doctor, Ace and Benny have always been on the scene. (The Doctor up to his old tricks?) The renewal of his relationship with Ace is given some focus; it harkens back to Love and War, but also emphasises the uncertainty of their present standing. The way he disposes of Legion is not as controversial as it's meant to be - he's done the dirty work of killing the enemy himself several times before (The Brain of Morbius, The Invasion of Time, Earthshock). I'm still not sure what to make of New Ace. She's the crux of the story - her motives and actions are ambivalent and unclear, making her presence interesting, especially when she meets Legion. However, while what the character does is fascinating, the character herself is rather dull. Although, to be fair to the authors, New Ace isn't the most interesting template. Benny is Benny. She's always likable (in my humble opinion, of course); not much is done with her, but at least she's consistently Benny.
Apart from the great character interaction, Lucifer Rising's slow burn and intense descriptiveness keep the reader interested. There's an amazing action scene, namely the Bridge breaking apart, which is gripping from start to finish. At times it's graphic, but it's an incredible set piece that never slows or lets up. Being serious fare, there's not much humour, but there are a few gems - the best is the series of quips with which Benny replies to the Doctor's sentences (pp.101-102). They're a scream. There's a highly amusing cheap shot at the televised programme's low budget, in an allusion that looks to be from The Seeds of Death. And, oddly enough, the drummer from Metallica seems to have become a member of Belial base!
A criticism levelled at Lucifer Rising is the abundance of continuity references. IMC, who played a significant role in Colony in Space, make a comeback, also in a central way. I have no qualm with this - the future history of the New Adventures owes a lot to this Pertwee tale - the depictions of life on Earth and the rise of the corporations now a common scenario. I also have no problems with the use of the terms Krau and Trau, from The Caves of Androzani. This, along with the odd name check of a planet or a spaceship, helps put the various locations in the Doctor Who universe in some sort of context. However, the writers do go too far on occasions. Grouping three minerals from the series in the same sentence (p.71) is very silly. Also on p.189, we find out Bishop was involved in the clearing up of several televised adventures (after the Doctor and companions scarpered) - I think I groaned out loud when reading these. The story's timeframe is also built around a foreshadowing of The Dalek Invasion of Earth - this would have been okay had there been only a fleeting reference, or a similar future history context, but the Doctor's ambiguous comments (pp.337-338) are just more showing off of continuity knowledge, offering nothing constructive.
The other major criticism of the novel, as referred to earlier in this review, is that after the first two-thirds, the quality drops. Like the aforementioned high quality six or seven part televised story that runs out of steam around episode four or five, so too does Lucifer Rising become less engaging. Until now, the characterisation and detailed descriptions benefited from the slow pace of the narrative; the few action scenes (like that on the Bridge) were also well served by this style. However, it soon becomes an all action runaround - Ace's flight from the IMC goons, Christine's attempts to escape being crushed by the executive transporter, Benny's slightly humorous, but overlong misadventures with the robotic food machine and a few more. The shift to fast-paced action doesn't do justice to the story. There are some good moments among all this - Miles discovering his transformed daughter, the revelation of the true nature of the Angels and Lucifer, and an uncompromisingly arbitrary set of sequences (again, snapshot-like) as a variety of characters are transformed in grisly alien ways, both IMC bastards who deserve their sticky end and Belial base crew we have come to know and like. But the final climactic scene, with the merged Ace/Doctor/Bernice, although nicely surreal, is a rehashing of what's become common in the New Adventures: regulars confronted by their hidden demons. Oh well, at least there were no dead companions this time.
But, despite the relatively disappointing final third, the quality of the writing never deteriorates. The science fiction concepts are astounding, and the depth of characterisation also helps to make it memorable. And its richness, strong imagery and excellent writing all ensure its praiseworthy aspects far outweigh the faults. 8.5/10
I am Legion, We are Many by Jacob Licklider 26/10/16
Jim Mortimore and Andy Lane are an odd pair of coauthors on their first book. Through Big Finish, I have heard Mortimore's The Natural History of Fear, which is great, and Lane's The Mahogany Murderers, which is also great, but their styles in audio are drastically different, with Mortimore using a lot of atmosphere and Lane keeping to a more traditional story. Yet, despite their differences, there is no real distinction between the passages written by Mortimore and Lane throughout Lucifer Rising. The novel reads really quickly, despite its long length, mainly due to the extremely compelling plot and characters. I hear that this is one of the most highly regarded Virgin New Adventures, but I have to disagree as there are quite a few flaws within the compelling narrative. This doesn't mean that it isn't good as it is, great in fact, it just isn't as good as some of the other novels I've read recently. But before I can get into the flaws of the novel, I want to look at the best aspects of this really dark story.
Let's start with the plot as, even though it is just a base-under-siege-style story, it is able to use that story style to make the story extremely tense and terrifying. Imagine The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, but if the horror was one hundred times more intense as one of the villains of the story is a being called Legion that exists in seven dimensions, which is a terrifying concept. The plot sees the Doctor, Ace and Benny arriving at a space station in the Lucifer system where people have started dying mysteriously, but the plot continues to thicken when IMC, the mining company from Colony in Space, come on the scene with evil plans (as they usually have), led by Legion. There are creatures called Angels and everything is a massive plot to try and gain time travel through the Doctor by using Ace as their agent. So yeah, this story has a plot filled to the brim, and what really suffers is the Angels, as their portions of the plot are the vaguest, which brings down the overall plot. The plot with IMC, however, is the best, as it tests the relationship even more between the Doctor and Ace, who again has had three years being hardened by Spacefleet. Ace betrays the Doctor here and finally is able to tell him exactly what he has been doing to her and those around her. She practically gives him a taste of his own medicine by the end of the novel.
Ace also gets some great scenes with the personnel on the base: when everything starts to fall apart before IMC arrives, Ace has to take charge and tries to keep everyone alive. She fails at this as people do die, but her skills as a leader are really effective and showcase how much she has grown as a character since Love and War. Benny, however, doesn't fair as well as Ace did. She isn't out of character or anything, but she is sidelined throughout most of the novel until the end where she plays a role in the climax. She also gets some great scenes with Ace to build a relationship between them, but that's about it. It's a real shame too, as Benny is such a good character. The supporting characters are all great, as they all are introduced grieving for the death of one of their own, and, through that event, we see them slowly pushed to their limits as people.
Even with these glowing praises towards the novel, there are still quite a few problems with it. Mainly, its length is not good if you read it over a period of time like I did, as I fell ill while in the middle of it, so stopped for a few days. This really shows there are too many characters in the story, as some of them really don't serve much of a purpose in their being there. The plotlines of Lucifer and IMC and Legion all get a bit muddled, and it takes way too long for them to be resolved. The novel also has a slow uptake, which, while building atmosphere and characters, had quite a few pages that could have been easily cut out. Even with these flaws, the novel is still really good, and I would have to give it 78/100 as it is really good but a bit overrated by some fans.