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Oh No it Isn't! (New Adventures) Mass Market Paperback – 15 May 1997

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The New Adventures (15 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0426205073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0426205074
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 11 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy in prose, comics and television, one of only two people to be Hugo Award-nominated in all three media. I've written Doctor Who for the BBC, Wolverine for Marvel Comics and Batman and Robin for DC. I've won the BSFA Award for my short fiction, an Eagle Award for my comics, and share in a Writer's Guild Award for my television scripts. My urban fantasy novels for Tor are London Falling and The Severed Streets.

Product Description


Bernice Summers is taking a party of academics to the planet Perfecton, when they are attacked by a missile. It warps reality to the extent that everything is reminiscent of a 20th-century pantomime. What links a long-dead civilization and a rather unpleasant sort of children's entertainment?

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jane Aland VINE VOICE on 18 July 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When the BBC stopped making Doctor Who on television, Virgin Publishing (eventually) gained the rights to produce new literary adventures for the Doctor. After 5 successful years however BBC Books took the license back, which left Virgin bravely carrying on publishing the New Adventures with new companion Bernice Summerfield taking over from the Doctors leading role.
This first 'Doctor-less' New Adventure makes for a good introduction to the character of Bernice, with the story itself being a light-hearted romp through a fantasy world of pantomime. The plot's occasionally a bit contrived, but its written in a warm and engaging manner, and featuring some hilarious new aliens in the fact-obsessed Grels. A solid start to the adventures of Bernice Summerfield.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
After the parting of the ways between The Eighth Doctor and archaeologist Bernice `Benny' Summerfield at the end of Dying Days (New Adventures), Benny was given her own series of novels, and this is the first of them. As the title suggests, there is a distinct tongue-in-cheek feel to Paul Cornell's narrative, as our hero finds herself sucked into a kind of alternative reality; one where she is a thigh-slapping principal boy, and where various of her colleagues and acquaintances are re-incarnated as dwarves, pantomime dames, moustache-twirling ne'er do wells, and in the case of her pet cat Wolsey - Puss in Boots!
Like many of the Virgin New Adventures series that preceded it, Oh No it Isn't sometimes tries too hard to be clever, however for the most part it's an enjoyable romp, and by the end of the novel, Benny Summerfield is established as resoundingly fascinating and well-drawn character.

Big Finish audio CD
Although rather rudimentary in places (compared with the polished efforts regularly produced by the company nowadays) this early Big Finish full-cast audio drama is great fun - in a camp-as-you-please way, and a great vehicle for Bernice Summerfield: Archaeologist, adventurer, raconteuse, and sometime travelling companion of a certain errant Time Lord. Finding herself whisked into some kind of alternative dimension after a freak missile to spaceship occurrence, Benny begins a hallucinatory adventure that sees her encounter various fairytale characters, from the seven dwarves to the Vizier from Aladdin; but all in the forms of acquaintances and colleagues from her former life as a university lecturer from the future. Complete with a sentient feline (voiced perfectly by the late, great Nick Courtney) as Benny's partner in Pantomime, she sets out to find her way home; with often bizarre and frequently disturbing results.
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Being someone who despises Pantomine I have to admit that I approached this book with some trepidation. To my suprise however I found it quite enjoyable. The first fifty pages are excellent, establishing Benny as working on the university planet of Dellah and also giving the reader a very good idea of what Dellah is actually like. After that Benny finds herself seemingly trapped in a Pantomine along with many of her friends and colleagues, while another group of Dellah academics find themselves on the run from the alien Grel.

As I have said I loathe Pantomine so Benny's adventures in the land of Pantomine did feel like they went on for a very long time. However Paul Cornell's writing was sufficient enough to keep me reading, and I loved the fact that Benny was clearly hating being trapped in Pantomine. When the explanation as to how Benny ended up there arrives, Cornell manages to tie up all the plot strands superbly and ends the book very satisfyingly.

With the benefit of hindsight "Oh No It Isnt" may not have been the best book to start the Benny New Adventures but it is nevertheless a very good read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Jun. 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Paul Cornell is definitely in my top three of the best New Adventure authors.
What a brilliantly funny way to start of the new New Adventures. I absolutely adored a speaking Wolsey!
Keep up the great work, Mr. Cornell.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Really Good (but the CD's better) 7 Jun. 2013
By S Maslin - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
From the book's back cover:
Bernice Surprise Summerfield is settling into her new job as Professor of Archaeology at St Oscar's University on the planet Dellah - one of the most prestigious centres of learning in the Milky Way. She wants to put the past, especially her failed marriage, behind her. So she's glad when she gets the chance to take her tutorial group to investigate the lost civilization of Perfecton. Three whole weeks of archaeological research in the field. The perfect way to forget your worries. She doesn't bank on three things. That Menlove Stokes, Professor of Applied Art, and various other academics would be along for the ride. That vicious alien marauders would decide to explore the planet at the same time. And that a reactivated Perfecton device would plunge her into a situation that can only be described as. . .


Simple question: How do you like your sci-fi?

If you like boys-own heroic space battles interspersed with overly earnest interludes of moral hand-wringing, replete with pseudo-scientific techno-babble and endless back story, then 'Oh No It Isn't' is not for you.

If, on the other hand, you like your sci-fi witty and maybe slightly baffling then look no further: 'Oh No It Isn't!' is a quirky yet beautifully put together slice of odd. It is also at times very funny. Typical pre-new series Paul Cornell in fact.

That Bernice Summerfield, Cornell's creation, was never seen on TV doesn't alter the fact that she was the finest Doctor Who companion since the Tom Baker era, as important a fixture in the books of the 1990s as The Doctor himself; a more grown-up kind, the type of which the Doctor had so skillfully avoided on TV (with the possible exceptions of Barbara, Liz, Romana and perhaps Tegan). So successful was she that when the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie came along and copyright considerations forced the Doctor Who New Adventures to become Doctorless, they continued with Benny as the main character.

Though 'Oh No It Isn't!' is the first New Adventure not to feature the Doctor, it is in no way inferior for that. Bernice as a character easily compensates for Doc-absence; likable, witty, believable - and 'Oh No' is a wonderful vehicle for her to strike out on her own: great fun and very, very readable. (Nor is this the only great book of the Bernice-era New Adventures: Beyond the Sun, Ship of Fools, Walking to Babylon, Oblivion, and anything by Justin Richards stand out but if you're a sci-fi fan - specifically a Doctor Who fan - you won't be wasting your time reading most of the entire range.)

Good though the book is, Jacqueline Rayner's adaptation for audio CD (ISBN: 978 190 365 430 9) is even better, with Lisa Bowermann, Mark Gatiss and Jo Castleton giving delicious performances, topped only by Nicholas Courtney as Wolsey the Cat and Alistair Lock's hilarious Grel. (There are quite a few other great Bernice audios too: 'The Worst Thing in the World', 'The Empire State', 'The Final Amendment' and 'The Diet of Worms' are all essential purchases: get some decent headphones, turn the lights out and wallow.)

Is 'Oh No It Isn't!' recommended? Oh yes it is but buy both the book and the CD and listen to the CD first.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Is it or isn't it? 29 Aug. 2001
By Joseph McCauley - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
An amusing story, something like a cross between Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger and Douglas Adams' Hitchhhiker's Guide series, and likely to appeal to fans of these series. Bernice and her cat, arguably the two main characters, were engaging characters that were fun to read about. A lot of cliches from classic tales are used here in twisted and surprising ways. A very funny story.
But there were enough problems to keep me from giving it a higher rating than I did. There were too many other characters that were interesting but inadequately developed. The plot was rather chaotic, taking turns seemingly at random. It struck me as the sort of story that could have been developed from one of those creativity exercises where you are given several unusual, diverse objects or characters, and you are supposed to conjure up a story that uses all of them.
You could certainly do worse than to read Paul Cornell's Oh No, It Isn't.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Oh No It Isn't audio recording 24 Aug. 2000
By J. M. Sleeman - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It has been a long time sinse I've listened to such a fully book. Being self conscious, it takes a lot to get me to laugh out loud at work, but this one did it. I even found I had to stop my data entry to listen, and hoped I wasn't overheard. This is definately a book I will read and listen to again and again. I also will lend it to all my friends, or recommend it for them to buy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Oh, what is it? 24 July 2002
By Andrew McCaffrey - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I finished OH NO IT ISN'T! a few days ago, but I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. It's a fun romp that spends the first hundred pages being absolutely not a romp. It's a fantastical, farcical fantasy that tacks on a bizarrely scientific ending. It's concerned with establishing a foundation to the (then) new series of Benny Adventures while also attempting to maintain a standalone tale. In short, it's doing quite a lot of different things almost at once. I found it to be enjoyable, but the further into the story I delved, the more restless I became.
The only major problem I found with OH NO IT ISN'T! is that it drags, quite heavily in parts. It's trying to be light and frothy, but it never seemed to be quite as light as it wants to be. A secondary (and mostly serious) subplot keeps pulling the action out of fluffville and grounding the entire book so that it never goes quite as far as it could have. Frivolity is quite a difficult concept to successfully pull off, and I don't think that Paul Cornell totally succeeded. Certainly there are some remarkably fun pieces, and I was entertained throughout much of the book. But too much lightheartedness can become tedious, and I found the secondary plot to be mostly distracting. There are times when the story is neither one thing nor the other. Had Paul Magrs written this same story he probably would have left out most of the real world portions (including the shaky ending) and moved the plot along faster. And I probably would have enjoyed that version more than this one.
Now, I'm quite willing to concede the possibility that I had less than ideal reading conditions here. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to read the story in the larger chunks that it was probably best suited for. Breaking it down into smaller pieces and reading only short sections a day can only have hurt this overall experience. While initially I had been very enthusiastic about the story, pulling the book out for the third day of Benny still locked in panto-land with no clue as to how to escape began to require more and more effort on my part. The longer the panto scenes went on, the less desire I felt to pick up the book again. Nothing seemed to be happening other than pop culture references and word plays. Obviously, that's the nature of the medium here, but while an actual panto performance doesn't go on for a terribly long amount of time, the same thing in a book requires a greater investment of time from the audience. The jokes and the puns do manage to liven those sections, but there were many moments where it felt like an uphill battle.
OH NO IT ISN'T! can be quite a lot of fun, if you're in the mood for an odd sort of romp through panto-land. Many of the jokes are devastatingly funny, and there are numerous pop culture references to keep one amused, from the Marx Brothers to Pulp. As a light and frothy adventurous frolic, it mostly works. Had the plot moved a bit faster, I probably wouldn't have ended up being as bored by the middle section, but perhaps looking for a quick storyline in a panto is a fruitless task. On the other hand, it's quite possible that panto is just one of those genres that doesn't translate well to the novel format.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Paul Cornell Does "It" 25 Jun. 2013
By Claude L. Parish - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
While I was collecting Doctor Who novels, I ignored "New Adventures" as something I didn't need. Little did I know that Paul Cornell was building something every Doctor Who fan should have in their collections.
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