by Ben Aaronovitch
Book review by Clinton Spencer
The best way to summarize Transit would be to say that it was like a futuristic Stephen King novel without a heart-stopping end. Let me explain in more detail.
The book is set in the near future (shortly after Warhead, I believe), and the Earth is a technology-ruled world. The Doctor arrives depressed and decides to get drunk (something that I do not oppose in Doctor Who), Benny becomes controlled by the enemy and something is causing havoc in the huge Transit System.
The novel contains a great amount of violence, gore and some sex scenes (all like Mr King's writing). There is only one problem - it seems that Mr Aaronovitch is not well skilled at writing violence and we get gory descriptions like something out of a horror Target novel. A similar example would be Nigel Robinson's New Adventures novel, where gore seems to be added to make the novel 'adult'. In general, I have no problem with the above, maybe Mr Aaronovitch just needed to rework some of the descriptions.
In an attempt to create atmosphere and an understanding of the main characters, Aaronovitch decides to fill in every detail of the characters' past whenever possible. The only problem is that the 'past memories' are extremely boring and are in no way linked to what the character has either just experienced or is about to experience. Once again, maybe Mr Aaronovitch just needed to re-work his writing a bit more.
Where the novel probably fails in my opinion is in its enemy and the ending. At no time did I ever wonder if the Doctor was going to fail and the solar system destroyed. I knew that in the last twenty pages everything was going to slot in nicely. In Doctor Who books you know the Doctor is going to win, but you should at least wonder 'will he win?'
Like most New Adventures, the ending seems rushed and cuts off suddenly. There's nothing wrong with using the last twenty pages to unwind the story, sort out the surviving characters and farewell the TARDIS crew.
Even though I've spent most of this review complaining about Transit I must admit that I mostly enjoyed it. I loved the setting of a futuristic Earth and believe that most of the characters had good potential. All it needed was a bit stronger editing and it could well have been an excellent piece of writing.
The reason why I like Transit so much (and few others do) is probably because it is very similar to Warhead which I think is one of the best New Adventures, and as a result I also automatically like Transit. It's merely a matter of loving the style that the book is written in.
This item appeared in TSV 34 (July 1993).