on 21 June 2005
The Umbra has got to be one of the least impressive DW monsters ever. Supposedly stealing minds and memories from the colonists of the planet Arden, it manifests as a large black cloud and the telepathic voice of an adolescent child.
The Doctor, Ace and Benny quickly join forces with the colonists to repel the insidious invader - Ace wrestles with her conscience after seeing one new friend too many die; The Doctor does what he does whilst Benny does...well nothing really.
This story is a definite Sci-Fi effort; spaceships exchange laser fire, genre-specific terminology appears regularly ('The Broadsword's drive cut and the ship tumbled, propelled by the undamaged thruster domes') and a squadron of space troopers parachutes into hostile terrirtory. In this regard it entertains - however we learn nothing new about the principal characters (a flaw common to this series) and the prose itself is somewhat limited.
That said, it's an acceptable entry into the NEW ADVENTURES canon.
on 11 May 2009
Shadowmind is an extremely average entry into the 'New Adventures' series.
The premise is interesting but unclear from the start - who is making replicants of ordinary humans and allowing them to infiltrate the human colony of Arden - and why?
The focus for most of the novel is actually The Doctor's companions, Ace and Benny. Berniece is in reflective mood whilst Ace seems to be getting wilder - a million miles from the innocent young tearaway The Doctor met on Iceworld.
The real problem is that nothing really happens - the story is very Science-Fiction and there are numerous references for ardent fans. Unfortunately this places it firmly within the 'self-aware' bracket; this is one purely for completists.