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on 10 July 2001
A great story, brought to us by Mike Tucker who (usually with Robert Perry) always writes good stuff for the seventh doctor and Ace, and this certainly doesn't disappoint. A not terribly original idea (using TV broadcasts to control and destroy) is given a great reworking, with some masterly and sinister elements; bloodthirsty jackals and a race of creatures who literally model flesh in the most horrific way...Has a little of everything, comedy, horror, suspense and an interesting and lively storyline. Good to see the master from a new angle too. One of my favourites so far!
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It was often said that towards the end of the TV series that Dr Who became too self aware and the same charge could be levelled at this novel. The plot that involved being taken over by your TV screen was also a little unoriginal, although it was a clever look at how you can get the masses to watch any old rubbish. Ogron Hospital, anyone?
Ace's character doesn't really develop, as it hasn't really done since Illegal Alien. It's almost as if she's been stereotyped and that's a shame. Since Curse of Fenric she's had the potential to do so much more, but none of the writers seem to know what to do with her.
However, in its favour was the satirical look at the way the BBC itself is run, including I assume, the Dalek-General himself, Lord Birt. Also making a welcome return is the Master, and it was nice to see him on the receiving end for once. But once again, he is in danger of becoming nothing more than a stereotype (I know he's a baddie, but baddies always used to have the best parts).
The Fleshsmiths were a nice development on the replacing worn out body parts theme, but I felt more could have been done to stimulate our horror of them, and also our pity for them.
In fact most of the characters here were one dimensional. There were no surprises in any of them. It's almost as if the PDA authors are reluctant to develop their characters beyond what was achieved on TV. I think it was this more than anything that spoiled an otherwise excellent Seventh Doctor story.
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on 9 September 2000
An excellent first solo attempt, mike tucker proves once again that he has the charecters of the 7th doctor aand ace down to a tee. The only real dissapointment was the master, although mike has put him in a different postion to normal, which i felt was good (nice to see on the reciveveing end) The master seemed almost lethargic and no visable cunning plot under his sleeve. I would have liked to see him a bit more devious. If anything i felt the copied master was better than the first, maybe intended i don't know.
Ace's chaercter seemed to be lacking something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but she, like the master, is a much more 'relaxed' version, gon is the fiery ace we saw defend a human colony against the krill.
the only other gripe i have is the lack of moral issues going on in the doctor we saw in the matrix i felt more should have been made of completey destroying a speices (the fleshsmiths) By the end of this body he should have become a deft hand at genocide.
Apart from that i felt it was well thought out and fast moveing, it was just a shame it was short compared to the others.
It is testement to Mikes talent that a plot, that could have been 2d and tacky in another writers hands, was readable, enjoyable, and kept you guessing to the very end.
If you liked illegal alein, matrix, and storm haverst then buy this.
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on 14 August 2000
I read this book twice, just to see if I missed something the first time around. Sadly not, although I will say that the book presents a nice balance of action and thought. The story was nice and swiftly paced, I found myself getting a bit bored with the "Lets go this way" attitude, which seemed pointless and the Doctor always knew what was happening - no surprise there then; after all this is a Seventh Doctor adventure. Ace was a little underused, and the supporting baddies seemed a little one-dimensional to me.
The malevolence of the Master is somehow lost in this rendition also. We see a tired Master, almost reclusive to the point of boredom. However, all said and done, I did enjoy the story and read it twice so that can't be bad.
My impression of the story was good, and the use of the Master could have benefited from a little more thought, if only to have given him a more evil ending....
Christopher d'Abbot
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on 16 August 2000
A thoroughly enjoyable read. Mike Tucker shows he knows the Sylvester McCoy portrayal of the Doctor very well - unlike many other past Doctors BBC novels, I could easily see McCoy churning out the lines. His monologue to Lukos towards the end was a tour de force.
How wonderful it would have been to see this on the telly. The Fleshmiths and their horrific world would have been interesting to say the least...
Highly entertaining stuff.
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on 15 April 2011
Unlike most Mike Tucker books I can't really recommend this one. It's a very lightweight read that's more of a train journey time filler than a comfy armchair treat.

The book is already one of the slimmest volumes in this range and that doesn't even take into account all the blank pages slipped into the gaps between the television show style breaks and previews (rather like the way I used to try to pad out my school projects).

The similarity to Vengeance on Varos is so close that I'd be more inclined to believe that Tucker didn't know that Vengeance existed than castigate him for ripping from that TV story. I just keep hearing Martin Jarvis's voice directing the hidden cameras and seeing the man and the woman idly watching scenes of public torture on their tv screen. It's almost like watching one of those American adaptations of a previously classic British production. It's no fault of the author I think but it's hard for Tucker's shock tactics and attempt at satire to hit home with any force when most readers will have already been hit in the same place.

Characterisations are as good as ever as far as the Doctor and Ace are concerned, it's just a shame they don't have a fresh and exciting stage to perform on.
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