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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best SF in a long, long time, 17 Oct 1999
By A Customer
Imagine two great races in the universe. One has ultimate power over time travel and time manipulation: the other can bend and reshape space at will. Any war between them is going to be pretty darned big, particularly when viewed from the perspective of a previously Earth-bound teenage girl whose only frame of reference is her friend's cheesy SF novels.
Dead Romance could so easily have become one of those cheesy novels itself, but succeeds due to Miles' stunning ability to produce fascinating prose that causes you to look at the mundane in a new light, and to care about characters just a sentence after they've been introduced.
Miles presents the story from a first-person perspective, in the form of a memoir being written by Christine, the aforementioned earthling. And unlike other so-called "diary" or "memoirs" books, it does actually read as if it's being written by someone genuine: occasionally, the "author" gets ahead of herself, or misses something out and has to go back and fill in some blanks. In the hands of a less accomplished writer, this technique could have fallen flat on its face: instead, it soars.
This book is part of a larger series from Virgin Publishing called The New Adventures. It's actually a spin-off from the series of original fiction based on the BBC serial Doctor Who, except that they're not allowed to mention this fact anywhere. Dead Romance is, ironically, all the better for this: it genuinely stands on its own as a masterpiece of fiction (SF or otherwise) and deserves a much larger audience.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bottles within bottles, 3 Dec 2007
This review is from: Dead Romance (Faction Paradox) (Paperback)
Dead Romance is pretty much perfect, really.

Miles' imagination puts everyone else to shame. I'm not sure why there's a shortage, but no-one else seems capable of cramming in the sheer amount of fascinating, intriguing concepts that Lawrence can. His casual reinventions and subversions of established Dr Who concepts - his books are packed with throwaway ideas other authors'd kill for - are just so exhilarating, and fire the imagination like no other.

The explicitly Dr Who elements of Dead Romance are so much more powerful for not being tied down to constant name-dropping of Gallifrey, Rassilon and his Seal (hah - not the mammal variety), Shada, the Eye of Harmony (although all these things are present) - it's amazing in fact how much more impressive the ideas become when not linked to these over-familiar terms. I wish more people'd adopt this approach; I can think of plenty of books that could have done with some fuzziness, rather than a straightforward overload of continuity references.

Miles' ability to make over-familiar ideas huge and grand and awe-inspiring is literally stunning; the Time Lords have never, ever been this massive and impressive before, and in all honestly, probably never will again. They stitch machines into their skin; alter their agents into bipedal tanks; walk through the sky into London; rip up the buildings with machines `the size of the Isle of Wight,' make their own cities out of the rubble, and turn the sky orange. All in an afternoon!

It seems to be a patented technique of Miles' to expand on and make even the weakest of Doctor Who concepts fascinating (ie, the Krotons in Alien Bodies - who are still meant to be a bit rubbish, but nevertheless get an interesting backstory, and sense of scale), and come up with a mind-boggling array of involving concepts - but then to only suggest them: universes within bottles within bottles; machine men; clockwork/flesh machines.

I think also, unlike the vast majority of Doctor Who authors, he doesn't render his ideas mundane by presenting them through straight sci-fi concepts: everything is couched in mythic, almost fairytale terms (enabled by Christine's inexpert testimony); the time travellers use magic, machines are `stitched' into skin, potions alter the earth's population, the `sky opens up' - rather than a space/time portal (etc) appearing. Which - as all the usual technobabble is bobbins anyway - I find far more satisfying, as well as ramping up the scale.

I'm not sure Doctor Who deserves anything this good. Although the twists of this narrative fit together staggeringly well, and the novel (yes, not just book) definitely holds up to repeated reading, perhaps inevitably it looses some of its grandeur when approached by someone knowing what transpires. However, despite this, simply for the sublimeness of its concepts, it is among the best story - in any medium - that Doctor Who has to offer.
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Dead Romance (Faction Paradox)
Dead Romance (Faction Paradox) by Lawrence Miles (Paperback - 30 Nov 2004)
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