Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Colony of Lies by Colin Brake

Plot: A colony on the point of extinction. Violent rebels raiding their supplies. Federation evacuees threatening to change their very ideals. Savage aliens waking up with revenge fantasies. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe must navigate this web of chaos and try and save as many lives as possible…

Oh My Giddy Aunt: The key to getting the Doctor to do what they want is make him think it was his idea in the first place. His voice is low and friendly, full of inexhaustible passion for new experiences. Described as Odd Socks. Always does the unexpected; it keeps people on their toes. He considers himself a connoisseur of secure cells. He is a lot more agile than he might first appear and has a wonderful knack of making you feel things are better than they actually are. Military personnel bring out a playful urge in the Doctor to tease them. He has some ideological differences with his own people. When speaking with his seventh self he asks, “Are they still on your tail?” Whilst we all groan at the Doctor pulling eccentric items from his pockets you know it will be something special with Troughton (a betamax cassette of Hancock’s Half Hour). Earth Gov considers the Doctor a Class A Interloper and there is a huge file on him dating back centuries. If it wasn’t for the erratic passage of his little craft they would have been able track him down long ago.

Who’s the Yahoos: Jamie hated being denied the chance to explore. He trusted the Doctor explicitly and had been travelling with him for what felt like forever. He loves riding horses and even though the Doctor had introduced him to all sorts of exotic creatures and strange machines nothing compared to the freedom of riding a horse. It seemed to Jamie that the further he travelled into the future weapons became more brutal, more destructive and more deadly.

Brainy Babe: Since leaving the Wheel all Zoe seemed to have done is run. She never found much pleasure in exercise, preferring instead to absorb data. She was beginning to tire of monsters. The thought of the TARDIS gave Zoe a warm glow, funny how something so strange and alien could become home. I love how Zoe memorises a manual and suddenly has the ability to fly a fighter. When Zoe gets hooked up to the colony ship and experiences its memories she soon wants to forget that she was ever human. She had little personal experience of passion but perhaps she would one day when she had had enough of travelling.

Twists: A broken colony trying to maintain its morals with rebels who refuse to deny technology and who have found an alien bunker under the soil with predators in suspended animation…how can this not work? No Earth colony is truly independent…after the Dalek Wars there are many refugees who need resettling. The Doctor is contacted by his naughty seventh self, breaking the laws of time to give him a nudge in the right direction. Zoe’s escape in a fighter is very exciting. The Tyrenian is cloaked in the lake…it is revealed that the Tyrenians were on the planet before the colony ship arrived and the reason they were shot down was because of the Tyrenian defensive satellites. The Federation forced Ransom to take a ten strong droid army with him. The Tyrenians are genetic failures from when the Federation was trying to create super soldiers but Ransom let them escape rather than wipe them out. Reluctantly Ransom agreed to take the droids to kill the Tyrenians, the Federation refusing to give him the go ahead for his Back to Basics colony unless he completes this side project first.

Funny Bits: The Tellurian Stain – I find it hilarious that Earth’s spread through history is considered as nothing more than a stain!
“What’s the point of crossing your own time stream if you’re just going to be cryptic?”
“Och” said Jamie, bemused “who let the dogs out?”
“What manner of man am I to become? Playing hop, skip and jump with the laws of Time?”
So sad that one day he was fated to regenerate into such a smug know-it-all!

Embarrassing Bits: The Doctor attempting to sound hip by taking in ‘cool technobabble’ is awful!

Result: Lacking in ambition but full of heart, do I condemn this book for its simplicity or praise it for meaning well? Why the seventh Doctor had to be included is beyond me except to perhaps make this seem more interesting than it actually is. The regulars are treated well and I could happily see this playing out in season six with no struggle with the special effects. Herein lies the problem; the second Doctor novels are a chance to break free of the formula of their era (look at the two Troughton PDAs either side…could you see Combat Rock or The Indestructible Man taking place in the 1960’s?) but this plays out as a 60’s morality tale with all the depth that goes with that. In its defence the writer attempts several layers of danger (above, below and on level with) and it is readable throughout with the occasional moment that makes you stop and think this much more clever than it really is. Brake is an excellent children’s writer but speaking as an adult Colony of Lies never stretched me and features one of the most hideous covers in the range: 5/10

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