Top critical review
on 2 September 2013
Zeta Major is a Past Doctor Adventure by Simon Messingham featuring the 5th Doctor and is a sequel to the TV serial The Planet of Evil.
Story wise, Zeta Major suffers from many different characters and plot threads making it hard to keep up and leaves you feeling fairly unsatisfied, despite the main story actually being fairy interesting deep down. The prologue features a crew landing on Zeta Minor, a planet long abandoned due to the evils which lurk there, but required nonetheless as an energy source. The first chapter then flits between a secret agent being set free from a high security prison, his "rescuer" being blackmailed by a different group, the agent himself setting up a project of some sorts, and the Doctor having a series of hallucinations. Each bit has various characters and you're left fairly confused as to what is going on. Essentially the Morestrans are starting to use antimatter again, although this is covered up, and the Doctor has to put things right again.
Zeta Major is a fairly dull book, the story doesn't grip you as it should and I found my mind wandering and struggled to read much per session. Whilst the story is interesting the novel seems bloated and the actual story is interspersed with quotes from texts, and transcripts to do with the Church and the various groups in the book, which just makes a dull book, even duller.
The 5th Doctor isn't done that well. The hallucinations affecting him in the early part of the story make it difficult to relate to his TV persona. I think the main issue is that 5th Doctor just doesn't really work on paper as he is pretty dull when compared to the others. So not only does Zeta Major have a dull story, but it also has a dull Doctor. When Messingham does try to jazz him up a bit, he has him threatening someone with a gun, which is totally out of character. Companions Nyssa and Tegan are both are done well with both companions having a fair bit to do.
Zeta Major is a below average Past Doctor Adventure which fails to live up to the story it is a sequel too and struggles to live up to other titles in the Past Doctor Range. Whilst not the worst Doctor Who novel I've ever read, it still took a lot of perseverance to make it to the end. One for completionists only I'd say.