Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The New Doctor Who Adventures: Blood Harvest – review

Author: Terrance Dicks

First Published: 1994

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: “Doc’s peddling bootleg liquor in an illegal speakeasy. You’re carrying a gun for him, Ace – which makes you no better than any other gun –moll”

Dekker is a private eye; an honest one. But when Al Capone hires him to investigate a new joint called ‘Doc’s’, he knows this is one job he can’t refuse. And just why are the Doctor and Ace selling illegal booze in a town full of murderous gangsters?

Meanwhile, Bernice has been abandoned on a vampire-infested planet outside normal space. There she meets a mysterious stranger called Romanadvoratrelundar – and discovers an ancient and malevolent power, linking 1922 Chicago with a lair of immortal evil.

The review: This is a book that, whilst featuring the seventh Doctor (played by Sylvester McCoy on TV), is a direct sequel to the 4th Doctor (played on TV by Tom Baker) story State of Decay. Now, I am sure regular readers will know that I love that Doctor Who adventure. The novelisation, however, was somewhat marred by Terrance Dicks' simplistic writing.

Dicks write this and it is a cut above the novelisation simply by being an original story. The writing style is simple but not immature and thus bobs along at a fair old pace. What I did note however was that whilst he kept the disparate and yet connected stories (of Prohibition Chicago and the vampire planet in E-Space) running nicely, when they converged we seemed to rush headlong into a trip to Gallifrey that was simply too hurried.

However, on the vampire planet things are afoot and we discover some nice new details. Far from the entire world being made up of a castle and 1 village – as indicated in the TV show – there was a vast feudal network and the vampires had wormed their way into the Lords class throughout the land. They had then been overthrown after (and due to) the events in the TV series but are on the rise again.

They are fairly much standard, needing blood to survive, dying in the sun or by stake and beheading and being held off by garil (the planet’s equivalent to garlic). I mentioned stakes, actually it is just the heart that needs destroying;“hit them in the heart with two slugs from a .45 and they go down and stay down. Even if they’re vampires.”

At the end of the book we also discover that the Doctor accidentally introduces vampirism to Earth, but then says it is already taken care of. I believe that part of the story is covered in a Doctor Who book called Goth Opera. As for this book, it was okay. Not a huge amount of characterisation but a ripping pace that makes it very readable. 5.5 out of 10.

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