THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

The Invasion
Virgin Books
Original Sin

Author Andy Lane Cover taken from the excellent Broadsword home page
ISBN# 0 426 20444 1
Published 1995
Cover Tony Masero

Synopsis: Earth in the thirtieth century and a series of apparently unrelated murders are causing innocent citizens to turn on friends and relatives. The Doctor is arrested by Chris Cwej and Ros Forrester, who slowly discover that conspiracies run deeper than they think. However, the Doctor isn't the only one playing games...


Reviews

A Review by Sean Gaffney 13/8/99

Now, when I poured through Original Sin in one and a half days, I at first thought that there could not be two more different books (well, maybe Gareth Roberts and Andrew Cartmel) after Human Nature. However, I have revised my opinion.

First, here's a spoiler...

THE CYBERMEN ARE NOT IN ORIGINAL SIN!

Ahem. However, one of our old fave raves is, and he was one of the Cybermen's chief human accomplices...that's right, Tobias Vaughn.

(Small sidebar. For those who read the book, as well as saw the tape of The Invasion... I REALLY wanted a robot Packer in Original Sin. Think about how many lives could have been saved if Packer had been put in charge of Vaughn's new plot. He would never have been able to carry off the downfall of the Empire. Personally, I think the reason that Zoe and Isobel scream at the end of Episode 2 is that Vaughn shows them his character development for the next six episodes...)

Anyway, Vaughn's death, though greatly exaggerated, is nonetheless still wearing on him, and I admire Andy's portrayal of a personality which has gone on for one mind too long. The other characters are good, and the new companions show great promise. Chris will hopefully not become a male Mel, and Roslyn will hopefully not become a female Ace. They are very well delineated here, and I look forward to more of them.

There is a beautiful scene with the Doctor and Pryce, a man who went through deranged and came out the other side, that makes me want the comparison of these last two books. Human Nature is quiet and philosophical, with action to move the plot along. Original Sin is all action moving the plot along but this scene, and a few others, make it just as powerful. Kudos.

10/10.


A Review by Steve Crow 13/4/00

I like this book. It seems to have garnered a bad rep in the fan community. I'm not sure why. Well, okay I can kinda see why. It's a very fan-wonky story. It's not as bad as, say, Divided Loyalties. But boy, does Andy Lane toss out a lot of references to past episodes and stuff. And yes, sometimes he goes a bit far. Does seeing a pair of charred boots really bring to mind the Doctor's thrilling adventures of Revenge of the Cybermen? Even the Doctor's throwaway lines strike me as very unrepresentative of the Doctor as presented on-screen.

Lane does help to balance that out a bit by tossing in references to non-televised and -novelized adventures as well. So we don't totally get the impression every single thing that occurs makes the Doctor think of an on-screen adventure. Plus, I kinda like that kind of fan-wonky stuff. I like Andy Lane's humor, which is in full force throughout this novel.

Okay, so much for most of the bad stuff. I really like this novel. Don't know why. It just strikes me as a very "fun" adventure, and seems to capture the spirit of the 7th Doctor. He's not depressed, or manipulating, or pseudo-evil, or whatever. He's smart, he's fun, he's _not_ omniscient. It's the little bits that count. The shoe closet scene (with a great slapstick ending), the significance of the robot valet waving to the Doctor and Bernice when they first arrive, the Doctor outsmarting a robot through logic, his reactions to the resurrection of his old nemesis, his escape through the TARDIS to come up behind Vaughn, etc.

Bernice gets to emote over an alien race and the loss of her alien friend, and suffer a bit of angst. The two new companions are pretty well-presented in their introduction story - the bones are there for further development down the road.

The main villain? I'm a sucker for old resurrected types (another one of those fan-wonky aspects - heck, I did a similar story myself decades ago), and it at least makes some sense here. Lane neatly melds Vaughn's instincts for self-preservation, heroism (or at least self-deluding belief in his heroism), and evil.

My only other real gripe is with the secondary bad guy, Pryce. It's pretty easy to tell what movie Mr. Lane watched before writing this novel. Hmm, four letters, first word starts with a "S", last word is a farm animal... You almost expect Pryce to hold a flashlight shining up from underneath his jaw and yell "Booga booga!" He brings out a brief philosophical discussion versus the Doctor that doesn't really seem to go anywhere, and otherwise really fails to contribute anything to the plot that couldn't have been dealt with otherwise.

Also, the ending is a little anti-climactic. The adventure is basically a big run-around. There's an obligatory explosion, and the Doctor destroys the villain by...ummm, cutting off his "head" with a plasma blade. Even by Doctor Who standards, this is a bit less cerebral than even most 3rd Doctor adventures.

Still, though, I enjoyed Original Sin (and enjoyed his previous work, All-Consuming Fire). He doesn't seem to be in any hurry to write more novels, but I hope Mr. Lane does many more. As of this writing, I'm looking forward to The Banquo Legacy, which appears to be the next book he has coming out.


Vaughn's revenge... by Joe Ford 1/5/03

Wow... that was GOOD. So good in fact it could almost be a current EDA! Strange how re-reading a book with fore-knowledge can be so rewarding. This is a focussed, well written and characterised novel that treads that majestic fine line between comedy and drama with a good number of thrilling set pieces. It confirms my suspicions that Andy Lane is in fact a very good writer, experimental and traditional all rolled into one. BBC books should see about recruiting him again soon.

What impressed me most was how quick a read this seems despite the fact it is about 50 pages longer than the average Doctor Who novel. I think this has more to do with Andy Lane's readable prose than the plot. The plot itself doesn't really kick into high gear until about halfway through the book when we realise somebody from the Doctor's past is out to haunt him, the first half more concerned with laying out the foundations of the book, deepening the characters and offering a detailed view of the Earth Empire. I whizzed through this in two days, getting up early before work so I could have a couple of hours to read before I left.

Another plus is how instantly engaging Chris and Roz are (the illustrations are a bit useless though!). It is a good mixture of wit and intelligence and good old fashioned the boyish enthusiasm that leaps off the page in Andy Lane's safe hands. A book companion really needs a good introduction to kick them in the right direction (BBC books' Anji is an exception, she had a horrible first book but was redeemed by a focussed editor and some top quality authors) and the initial horror of having two coppers in the TARDIS (although it never bothered me a whole bunch I have to admit) is soon papered over by the creation of this three dimensional duo. And quite brilliantly they are not written as obvious new companions, indeed I wouldn't have been surprised if they were left behind at the end. If you didn't know the last scene would be a bit of a shocker.

Chris works simply because he is so desperately naive. I know somebody just like Chris and they, like this cute blond, are just impossible to hate simply because they are so trusting and have such a clear cut moral view. It is a shame Chris would soon develop chronic shaggitus (the unfortunate disease that tries to add character development by having him cop off with whatever comes his way... women, men, aliens...). Still that is no fault of this book and the thought of this big teddy bear who built model spaceships in his bedroom and blushes to his toenails when Bernice snogs him joining the series is an appealing one.

Roz is better though. I love these tough, no nonsense characters and my wish to have Sara Kingdom (of The Daleks Masterplan) join the TARDIS crew is somewhat fulfilled here as their character specs are pretty similar. Her bitter, cynical outlook is a very refreshing counterbalance to Chris' wide eyes enthusiasm and her constant put downs are a delight. She gets her own mini story here with the story of what really happened to her ex partner coming out during the course of the story and it makes compelling reading.

But what about the Doctor? Wow and double wow! In Andy Lane's book he is not the manipulator, schemer that I grew tired of so very quickly, no he is thoughtful, intelligent and very, very funny. The Doctor and Bernice make such a good solo Doc/companion team (ably demonstrated in Sanctuary and Human Nature) and their first handful of scenes are delightful, friends who have been through lots together simply enjoying each others company. There was a lot of warmth in those scenes that the New Adventures could have done well to emulate more often.

The plot is fiendishly clever and unravels at a good pace. I love how all the characters whizz around each other and we are constantly reminded that they are being manipulated by somebody. Its a good tension builder and drags up a lot of anticipation as to who this mysterious enemy could be. All the hints that it is somebody from the Doctor's past leaves you page-turning as quick as you can to find answers. If the was a disappointment to the plot it would be the ending. All the clever plotting accumulates in the Doctor finally confronting his enemy but the last twenty pages or so seem to climax a little too easily for my tastes. I prefer an ending I could not have guessed and consequences I can see.

The Earth Empire is expertly described with the planet's surface cleverly divided into class areas (the Overcity and the Undertown). The alien races used are all very imaginative and I found the Hith a innovatively alien species (so often, even in the books, aliens are just humans with antennae's or something... the Hith look, sound, act and think alien... a definite plus!). Plus the names they are given are priceless. Quite an imagination you have there Andy.

I really liked the little diversions to the Earth to see just how badly this developing psychosis is affecting people. There were about ten spread throughout the book but they were all pretty much a blast. Loved the woman setting fire to the guy she seduced and the gay guy who blew up the building his cheating boyfriend lived in. Classy.

One thing that did grate a little bit was the over excessive continuity references. They never stop. Okay it is nice to have a little nod back to the shows past but the sheer amount of villains, planets, monsters and book references were pretty overwhelming. One of the best things about the current range is that these pointless references have been all but deleted.

Still I shall not complain because I found Original Sin an absolute blast. Some of the character analysis was the best we've ever seen (the Doctor's haunting scenes with Pryce) and the book speeds on bubbling with innovation and wit. A true begining in every sense of the word.


A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 16/7/03

What do you say about the book that does everything? Okay, so maybe "everything" is a bit of an exaggeration. But Original Sin instantly became one of my favorites when I first read it, and I'm happy to find that my original opinion survived the book's reread. There's just too much good stuff here not to like it.

Andy Lane creates a lot of future history in this book. I'm not necessarily a fan of world-building; sometimes an author will be so busy creating a setting that they forget to actually have anything happen in it. But Lane fails to fall into that trap. The thirtieth-century Earth of Original Sin is detailed, gritty, realistic and fantastically well conveyed. The poor dwell in the undertown, in the shadows of the floating cities of Earth, while the better off live above, but can only visit the floors and levels below their own. The rich can choose to visit and see the poor, but the poor must be separated out from the wealthy. Roaming around the planet are the honor-bound Adjudicators, dispensing justice and trying to keep the world safe as it plunges into madness and terror during the unfolding of the story. The overcities and undertown, taken from a few throwaway mentions in past novelisations, are so fully fleshed out here that the New Adventures could have set dozens of stories in these locations without exhausting the potential.

The characters depicted here are also wonderful creations. I remember reading somewhere at the time of this publication that Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester were not originally intended to be companions, but only became so after the editors saw how well they were turning out. Whether this is true or not, I don't know. But it's easy to see how someone in charge of the line could pick out continuing characters from a novel this rich in realistic and well-drawn people.

But before I overwhelm you with talk of the hardboiled setting and the no-nonsense characters, I must point out that there's a certain whimsy present in the proceedings. The jokes (and there are a number of them) are actually quite funny. There's a wonderful balance between the serious and the amusing. Many books in the Doctor Who range try to be too much of one or the other, but Andy Lane walks this line perfectly. The Doctor and Benny in particular are depicted well, being both intelligent and droll. The grittiness is never overwhelming; anytime the story looks to be taking itself a little too seriously, Lane instantly takes the pomposity out with a clever piece of dialog or a hilarious one-liner.

And I haven't even mentioned the storyline yet. It's actually fairly simple on the surface, but deceptively engaging. There's a lot of standard Doctor Who material here: unsolved murders, a vast conspiracy, an alien menace threatening Earth, people going stark raving mad, etc, etc. But even the stuff we've seen before never feels old or recycled. The plot moves quickly, and my interest never flagged. In the Acknowledgements, Lane mentions that he abandoned the original plot part of the way through and ended up improvising much of what appeared in the final product. All I can say is that he must have taken great notes on the way to the end, because the conclusion is quite good and perfectly logical.

There are just too many great things in this book to give them all the attention they deserve. The extracts from "The Empire Today" (proving that Fox News and CNN will still be around a millennium from now) that open each chapter. The witty banter between the Doctor and his foes. The bizarre names that the alien Hith have given themselves as reminders of their lost past. The fleshing out of the Samurai-like Adjudicators' backstory. The only thing that really irritated me were the constant continuity references that kept popping up all over the place. I really don't mind a sprinkle of them here and there, but there sure seemed to be a hell of a lot of them in this one and I couldn't figure out what purpose they were supposed to serve.

Original Sin launched two new companions, and brought back an old enemy for the Doctor to fight. But regardless of the effect that the book had outside of its own covers, it's a seriously good tale in its own right. Andy Lane had quite a task following up the delightful and entertaining All-Consuming Fire, but here he proved that he was as skilled at bring the thirtieth-century to life as he was at capturing the nineteenth-century of Sherlock Holmes. Recommended for all Doctor Who fans.


A Review by Rob Matthews 30/1/04

Going by the first thirty-ish pages I really thought I was going to hate this one. I found the opening scenes with our incumbent TARDIS regulars Doc7 & Benny pretty confusing, seemingly following directly on from the previous adventure (though I later realised that the preceding NA was in fact Human Nature and the whole Oolis thing had happened 'offscreen'). The dialogue between the two seemed clumsy and ill-fitting, not quite in character for either of them, and out of sync somehow. And there were all these bloody apropos-of-absolutely-nothing references to things from the TV series, like the TARDIS boot cupboard and the Brigadier and Daleks and Cybermen and so on. Plus I kept wondering why, in his debut New Adventure, Chris Cwej was furry!

In addition to all that there wasn't even any suspense to draw me in - I already knew long before purchasing the book that the mysterious bloke with his hand on the desk was Tobias Vaughan!

But to my immense relief - and I couldn't tell you quite where it happened, I didn't notice any sudden moment of upturn - this book snowballed spectacularly, becoming pretty damn gripping as the pages slipped by. I mean obviously it still had its moments of purely gratuitous fanwank - in one scene there's an aside, a bloody aside, explaining Romana's picky regeneration in Destiny of the Daleks! -, but rather surprisingly there were many more instances of resurrected elements from the TV series actually working very well, not least Vaughan himself.

I think perhaps this was down to the retro stylings of Lane's writing lulling me into a false sense of antiquity, with the result that the plot then surprised me by being a lot more savvy and involved than I was expecting. See, I got an initial impression from his seemingly rather old-fashioned Eagle Comics-like demarcation of this future that I was in for some kind of Terrance Dicks meets John Peel by way of Craig Hinton-type ordeal. Robots referred to as 'bots'? A floating city festooned with loads of moving walkways like something from The Jetsons? The lingering pre-knowledge that Vaughan was probably half-Cyberman or something? Picky bastard that I certainly am, I really feel that when Who fiction does Earth's future, it needs to offer some new twist on the great but now over-familiar visions offered up by movies like Metropolis and Blade Runner. I mean, Ben Aaronovitch's Transit frankly baffled me most of the time, but I was a lot more happy to be baffled than bored, and while making my way through Original Sin, I did rather snootily think to myself, hmf, well this Lane fella might have got Sherlock Holmes' London down pat in All-Consuming Fire, but he just doesn't have a knack for futuristic environs.

And ultimately, well, this future wasn't quite as sharp and spikey and - importantly - surprising as I wanted it to be, but I was wrong to assume that Lane was using a generic-future crutch and didn't really have a vision of his own. Smartly but straightforwardly this is an amplification of the Victorian London in which he set All-Consuming Fire. So the British Empire becomes the Earth Empire, the 'unfortunates' whose presence so close to the genteel world of the Strand and Piccadilly chastened Doctor Watson, now become the unfortunates of a whole subterranean society that's almost literally swept away under the carpet (well, technically a 'terranean' society I guess, given that that Earth's floating cities are, erm, 'overterranean'?). Kneejerk prejudices are now directed against sentient beings from other worlds rather than other countries. Social injustice remains old news of course, older than its similiar enactment in the Fritz Lang movie, but it'll always remain a pertinent subject, and I don't want to wander into the effete postmodern thing of saying 'Oh, social inequality, that's so passe!' . The impression I was finally left with was that Lane wasn't creating this world carelessly or generically, which is the most important thing.

No, he was creating a world in the image of Tobias Vaughan, a one-off villain from a mid-sixties Troughton serial! Remarkably this works, due mainly to the quality of the characterisation. I mean, I haven't seen The Invasion for donkey's years, but it didn't really matter when reading this book because this vain, smug manipulative creature lives and breathes on the page (figuratively speaking, since obviously the VaughanBot doesn't in fact live or breathe...). The passage where he manifests himself through the purser robot to speak to Benny is really creepy, as is his consistent air of murderous bonhomie. Very Lex Luthor. One can only imagine to what extent the young Andy Lane must have internalised this character for him not only to seem like an obvious choice of villain for a 1990s New Adventure, but also to flow so effortlessly from his pen!

Oh yeah, which reminds me - the NA context. Joe claims up above that this book is 'good enough to be a current EDA', which is just that bias of his showing through I think, the rascal, because this is really a New Adventure through and through, foregrounding two of the most consistent threads from the NAs I've read - the extrapolation and broadening of the Whoniverse we saw on TV, and the up-close examination of the Doctor's morality. For the former, there's the future history-building that was triggered by books like Love and War and Transit - in particular the whole Earth Empire bit and the Dalek/Draconian imbroglio expanded from Frontier in Space. Here there's a planet Purgatory to add to the Heaven canon established by Cornell. And of course, Vaughan as a kind of 'Earth's champion', sorting out all the invasions and incursions by Zygons and Zarbi and goodness knows what that the Doctor wasn't around for.

Which of course ties in with the Time's Champion theme - not referred to by name here, I don't think, because really 'Time's Champion' was just one of those glib phrases which doesn't really evoke the complexity of its subject, like when people would say Seinfeld was 'about nothing' when in fact it would be easy to establish the broad but consistent range of 'somethings' it actually was about . (Er, not that I'm suggesting you should do any such thing, of course, unless you need to rationalise your flopping on the couch for that three-hour Seinfeld marathon). I always think the NAs were largely about the Doctor's near-demented quest to become a champion for Time, rather than about him actually being one. Paul 'Joseph Campbell' Cornell might disagree, but I think there was a little more room for divergent viewpoints in the NAs than they're generally given credit for these days (it's easy to stereotype them in retrospect, because they're a done deal and they're not going to contradict you) - see the Carnival Queen confrontation in Christmas on a Rational Planet for my favourite example of that.

The Doctor's methods and morality, examined effectively in Timewyrm: Revelation with the whole dead companions/Ka Faraq Gatri thing, as well as the aforementioned Christmas on a Rational Planet, Head Games, Blood Heat and No Future - to name just the NAs that come to mind - gets more than a nod in Original Sin though the Professor Zebulon Pryce subplot. And, just like with the retro-future and the resurrection of Tobias Vaughan, this character works despite every bone in your body telling you he shouldn't aforehand; I mean, a hybrid of Hannibal Lecter and Doctor Zachary Smith from Lost in Space? The mind boggles! Well, his mind boggles anyway. This man is seriously scary. I think it's the faux Beltempest's chilling description of the state in which his victims were found that does it - knowing just what he's capable of and building his menace before we meet him. Possibly, though it's just a guess, Lane was dropping a Jonathan Pryce hint with the name, but I cast him as Patrick Stewart, and boy did that work. Even though, like I say, it reeeally sounds like it shouldn't. Chalk it up to conviction: you never doubt that Lane is taking this seriously, that he believes it's important, that this is a Who adventure that needs to be written. With Pryce, as with Vaughan, he's chosen his character types well, because he has a real skill for creating menacing moments that seem unexpected even when they are expected - prime example being when Pryce threatens to poke out the Doctor's eyes. Logically, we should be anticipating this sort of thing from a complete psychopath, but the scene is somehow structured so that we get a jolt nonetheless. Gotta be some real skill involved there.

The moral debate here, it has to be said, is ultimately unspectacular. The reference to the White Guardian made me cringe, though luckily the Doctor shrugs off the thought of using old dove-bonce as a justification for his actions. There's an ultimate 'revelation' about the immorality of murder, though, with which I take issue. The argument which the book finally makes is:

We think murder is immoral because we don't want to be murdered.
Now, Lane appears to think this is a shocking statement of the rudderless ship of spurious morality on which us secular liberal types sail. Well, I think any 'shock' value to be extracted from this revelation is of a rather adolescent sort. Far from being bleak and desolate, I think this is the best and most clear argument of all for why murder killing is wrong. Realise that other people are the same as you and treat them as you would be treated - well, it sounds like a pretty damn good rule of thumb to me, and there's no need to go round the philosophical houses for it.

Still, the impetus was there, which is nice. I'm spoiled perhaps, because I think Sam-and-the-puppies in Interference is the benchmark for this sort of thing in Doctor Who now.

Oh, Roz and Chris are introduced here. Like Benny in Love and War they hit the ground running in their debut story; Chris too good to be true, Roz too grizzled to be nice. Not the most obvious companions, but perhaps the better for that (and in hindsight both were pretty well utilised after this introduction).

So, a solid tome of mythos-building and morality - succeeding most spectacularly with the former. If you chance upon it on ebay, break out the fan-kleenex for a guilt-free one. (Jesus, who started this metaphor?!)


Gosh, wow, golly-gosh!!!! by Brian May 25/6/04

What a terrific book!

Original Sin is something special, no doubt about that. For the first few chapters, you are duped into believing it's just another futuristic Earth tale, bemoaning the sorry state of human imperialism, inequality and injustice. And while it is all this, it unfolds in a brilliantly written way, with conviction, care, and a multitude of things for the reader to think about.

It's a convincing realisation of the future Earth that we learned about from the Jon Pertwee era. The overpopulation of Colony in Space, the expanding galactic influence of Frontier in Space, and the all-corrupting power that would lead to its eventual decline, as described in The Mutants. It's radically different from the fundamental ethos of Doctor Who. While the televised series celebrated humanity (typified by The Ark in Space), this book rips it apart. Humankind is despicable. The television programme saw countless attempts to invade the Earth, but the Doctor always put things right. Now, the humans of 30th century Earth are the invaders and the enslavers. Their hegemony leads them to be despised by their subjects - any moves at independence are crushed; a jingoistic media, which is no more than a mouthpiece for the empire, describes its conquests as "alien scum" and televises their executions. Just to gain an audience with the Empress, they are subjugated to an endless nightmare of bureaucracy. In a terrific moment the Doctor likens humans to the Daleks - one of the few races actually to have succeeded in conquering Earth. This comparison takes places straight after Beltempest raves on about the advantages of imperialism and expansion:

"Other races are weaker than us: it's a fact of life. That means we have a responsibility to help them" (p.146)
and other such manifest destiny drivel. Despite being a useful ally to the Doctor, Beltempest never loses this attitude, and comes across all the more hypocritical, as he has replaced his human form with that of an elephant, by means of the body-bepple surgery which is a contemporary status symbol. He's an apologist for humanity and all of its "achievements", yet he no longer has the visage of one.

The scenario is more like Blake's 7 than Doctor Who. It's a small wonder humanity is hated so much, especially so by the Hith. This race of beings are interesting - I won't say fascinating - they're standard NA aliens, but the way Lane delves into their way of life and their thought processes, you realise how much care he has taken to present a believable species. Powerless Friendless is an incredibly sympathetic and likable character, whose sacrifice at the end is made even more tragic.

The concepts of the Undertown and the Overcity are not incredibly original - nor are they meant to be. They emphasise the divisions between the haves and the have-nots, the rich and poor, the powerful and the forgotten. But the Undertown, the remnants of Earth's old cities, now a vast ghetto, is amazingly realised. The moment when a particular location is revealed to be Trafalgar Square is quiet and free of melodrama, but still packs a punch as the truth comes out. It's not even relevant to the rest of the story, but it's a haunting moment, as you realise how different the Earth will be in a thousand years' time. Andy Lane realises the importance of small events to pack a punch - like the above, he can use just a few paragraphs to do this.

I wouldn't call Original Sin a thematic or a didactic book, but it still has quite a few thoughts to provoke. The nature of memory is one of them. This is a world where painful memories can be blotted out by surgery, as Powerless Friendless does to forget his torture, or Roz to forget that she killed her partner. But this forgetfulness is short-lived. Beltempest must live with the images of Pryce's victims. Even the Doctor must remember bad things, especially after Pryce prods them to the surface. The Hith have long memories; the humans have short ones. The enemy behind everything, a machine that was once a human, has computer memory, therefore a perfect one.

The discussion the Doctor has with Pryce on the ethics of murder has been a contentious point. I agree with Rob Matthews when he says that this moral discussion is unnecessary at best, dubious at worst. However, to take it a step further, I'm convinced that this serves to emphasise just what an insane, amoral and frightening character Professor Zebulon Pryce is (I know he's a rip-off of Hannibal Lecter, but he's an effective character nevertheless). Forget the rationalisation or the Doctor's caving in to his "argument" - Pryce is simply toying with the Time Lord's mind, reinforcing his (Pryce's) vile philosophy.

It's also got many disturbing concepts. I tend to overuse the word "disturbing" in my reviews, but this time I can't emphasise it enough. As mentioned in the paragraph above, Powerless Friendless's repressed, but not forgotten, pain. Also Pryce's experimentation and torture on his captives stay in the mind - their agony is distressing to read, with some unpleasantly graphic descriptions. So too is the interrogation of McConnel, which provides another example of human hypocrisy - Pryce is incarcerated for his barbaric actions, while the authorities on Earth carry out no less horrible deeds on their prisoners. The detail in which Lane goes into, entailing cold, clinical and surgical descriptions, are necessary to create the horror, revulsion and outrage in the reader. His violence is not gratuitous, nor is it bloodthirsty.

But Lane's excellent prose cannot be praised enough. He builds everything round a fairly standard novel, in terms of plotting. It's the characters that drive the story and, indeed, the emotional and psychological impact that the story has on them. It is incredibly suspenseful, slowly but consistently building up to the promised denouement of a showdown with an old enemy. Despite the clues I didn't work it out despite racking my brains, but had to keep reading, if only to find out who it was (of course, it's rather obvious in hindsight).

Ah, don't you just love segues! Now's the time to talk about all the continuity references. And yes, there are heaps of them! However, the majority work, which is especially surprising. But, for a story in which memory plays such an important part, it's quite fitting. The end of the story owes a lot to The Invasion. The Doctor's mind dredges up painful moments (Planet of the Spiders, The Brain of Morbius, Resurrection of the Daleks), the ethical dilemmas he has faced (Genesis of the Daleks), among others. And, of course, chapter 16! If Lane didn't know what he was doing, this would be a fanwank marathon! But he does know what he's doing, and the references to The Green Death and Robot, plus mentions of Whitaker (Invasion of the Dinosuars) and Blinovitch are all justified by the context in which they're used. My inner fanboy doesn't mind the odd continuity nod - when they're done right, and this is one of those examples (the reference to The Chase was a bit silly though, I have to admit).

Original Sin is also remembered for the introduction of Roz Forrester and Chris Cwej, who become new companions at the end. They're a terrific duo, showing lots of promise. The cop/rookie relationship is wonderful, with Cwej's naivety and innocence a wonderful counterpoint to Roz's hardened, cynical veteran. Their interplay is a joy to read, as are the characterisations of the Doctor and Bernice, who Lane has captured on the pages exceedingly well (once again, the normally manipulative seventh Doctor goes through lots of personal hell).

Gosh, nearly 1300 words! Better wrap it up!

All I can do now is reiterate how brilliant and memorable this book is. Good one, Andy Lane! 9.5/10


A Review by Finn Clark 28/6/04

Original Sin and All-Consuming Fire are skilfully crafted NAs with a wonderful deftness of character, plot and prose. On a page-by-page basis, Andy Lane's writing is simply fun to read. The man's a natural wordsmith. Even his quiet or expositional passages have charm and energy. I greatly admire the skill which went into his books.

However, also like All-Consuming Fire, Original Sin undermines itself with fanwank and other ill-judged decisions. It's doubly regrettable since the good stuff is so fundamental and the bad so superficial, but there you have it.

I'll start with an anecdote. Apparently the original version of this book was to have introduced a mad old tramp as the new companion (eventually to have been revealed as Bernice's father) but 20,000 words into the book Andy Lane realised that the character was too much of a scene-stealer and restarted without him. That's right folks, the books once dropped a companion for being too interesting! Hard to believe, eh? Fortunately the rest of the cast is strong too, particularly Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester making their debut. Damn, they're fun! Roz's ident-eating story is just one of many gems.

The 7th Doctor is out-and-out comic relief. By 1995 the Dark Doctor had been done, so here instead we have a goofy clown who accidentally drinks boot polish and crashes vehicles by not watching the road during his escape attempts. Hey, he made me laugh! Andy Lane's obviously having a ball with his reinterpretation.

It's set in a galaxy-spanning Earth Empire full of alien strangeness. Admittedly it's studded with continuity references, but most of the time they're outweighed by the sheer mass of original detail. Meet the Oolians of Oolis, Arcturan sheckt bushes, flying whale-like animeats, Thrillp, the Minorith of Barrab Major, Centauran bumble bees the size of poodles (ditzes), the hag'jat (a Silurian musical instrument), body-beppling, Provost-Major Beltempest, the amazing prison planet of Dis... Andy's Earth Empire is obviously a cut-and-paste job from All-Consuming Fire's 19th-century British Empire, but this works. Just as the Galactic Federation was a Pertwee-era analogue of the European Community, similarly the Earth Empire and Solos in The Mutants were a metaphor for the British Empire overseas. Andy Lane is simply extending an existing analogy to say things about mankind and xenophobia.

Eventually the fanwank gets too spermy. Beginning with the revelation of the baddie ("it's HIM??"), soon it's thick enough to choke you. I'm not just talking about half a dozen Who stories thrust into one paragraph on p289. That's bad enough, but what's worse is that the story stops dead for twenty-five pages (at what should be the dramatic climax!) for the sake of a sequence of spent ejaculations.

I also disliked Professor Zebulon Price. Okay, there's a story reason why he's like that... but at the end of the day he's yet another tiresome Hannibal Lecter retread. Silence of the Lambs has much to answer for! I had Price pegged as a tosser from the beginning, but then we reached the ridiculous 'Is Murder Wrong?' discussion for which the Doctor becomes an idiot. This is related to my problem with Lucifer Rising's "Welcome to Hell" scene - no, not the macho one-liner, but the cereal-box philosophy that led up to it. In Original Sin the 7th Doctor can't construct an ethical framework that excludes murder. Huh? Sorry? We're not exactly talking postgraduate philosophy here. One can't help feeling that the Doctor is stumped only because the author wants him to be.

Oh, and "I don't drink... wine" hardly helps Price's credibility either. There's an alchemical process by which the world's wittiest one-liner makes you look like a retard if your readers recognise where you stole it from. Sherlock Holmes just about survived quoting Groucho Marx in All-Consuming Fire because he was a great character, but Zebulon Price pretending to be Dracula, um, doesn't.

The book ends poorly. Things unravel instead of coming to a climax... which, now I come to think of it, was also true of All-Consuming Fire. However until then there's lots of good stuff, such as the brain-bending worlds of Dis (orbiting in a sun's photosphere) and Purgatory (a patchwork planet of country-sized hexagons, as might be familiar to old-school AD&D players). Despite various gripes, I'd recommend Original Sin. The characters are fun, the writing is lively and if you can overlook its flaws this is an excellent book.


A Review by Jamie Beckwith 3/4/12

It's the 30th century and two cops are pounding the beat of the Overcities; the cynical, xenophobic Roz Forrester who's a "shoot first, ask questions later" (unless you're alien) officer and her young, wide-eyed overenthusiastic partner Chris Cwej (who, for reasons relevant to the plot, looks like a giant teddy bear). When they investigate what seems like an open and shut case - the murder of a alien down and out that nobody cares about - they soon find themselves embroiled in an ever deepening web of intrigue.

Original Sin is a hugely enjoyable novel, even if it does suffer from some of the worst excesses typical of the New Adventures such as a bazillion gratuitous continuity references and the villain turning out to be the return of an old enemy (the circumstances of which are only just about plausible). But that doesn't matter because this is Roz and Chris's show and at the story's end they have really earned their place aboard the TARDIS.

The New Adventures is MY era of Who, and Bernice and Roz are amongst my favorite companions. Roz is a very flawed individual and almost an anti-hero. She's prejudiced against all non humans (institutional racism) and perennially bad-tempered, which makes her an atypical travelling companion for the Doctor. And yet, she is deeply intelligent and committed to justice and fairness, and has turned her back on a pampered lifestyle to work the moving walkways of the Overcities.

Original Sin also contains a wonderful showdown between the Doctor and a serial killer where the Doctor is forced to justify his belief that life is sacrosanct and struggles to counter the persuasive arguments against. All in all, this is a very fun book and a brilliant introduction to two of the Doctor's most faithful companions.