If only the more recent TV outings of Doctor Who were as consistently inventive and exciting as this BBC series of novels! Yet again, with Peter Anghelides' Frontier Worlds
, we have another adventure of the eighth Doctor written with wonderfully created new locales, plotting that fires on all cylinders and a characterisation of the Time Lord that is richer and quirkier than anything we've seen in TV Doctors in years.
The planet Drebnar possesses a strange attraction--what is it that so frequently lures people to this inhospitable world? When the TARDIS is inadvertently dragged there, the Doctor makes it his business to find out the reason. He discovers that scientists from the shady Frontier Worlds Operation are using the planet as a base, and are creating strange hybrids of people and plants. But when the TARDIS crew become involved in this sinister biological struggle, they are soon caught up in individual crises. And when the doctor is trapped in the freezing wilderness, it appears as if no one will be able save him from a fatal experiment in genetic modification.
Anghelides creates his strange planet and its sinister inhabitants with rich atmosphere and menace, and the extra attention given to the TARDIS crew pays off in dividends: the Doctor remains centre stage, but there are more characters for the reader to become totally involved in. And when a lethal alien organism is lured to Drebnar by the Corporation, things become very nasty indeed. If the latter menace owes not a little to a certain Ridley Scott film, it's no worse for that, and ratchets up the tension considerably. Another winner in an ambitious and arresting series. --Barry Forshaw