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Blood Heat

by Jim Mortimore

Book review by Paul Scoones

More often than not, the New Adventures don't quite manage to live up to the preconceived ideas I have developed based on reading back cover blurbs months before publication. Blood Heat is an outstanding exception to this in this it not only lives up to, but actually easily excels its advance hype.

Put simply, if all New Adventures were this good, we'd all be wondering if it was worth having the show back in production at all. This is an adventure of multi-million dollar motion picture epic proportions.

Even more so than its immediate predecessor, Blood Heat is a continuity buff's delight. The cast reads like a who's who of the UNIT regulars, plus a handful of other familiar and not so familiar characters from both TV stories and novelisations. The premise is simple - the Third Doctor dies in Doctor Who and the Silurians and history is changed, creating a parallel Earth on which a huge portion of humanity was wiped out in the plague and the reptiles reclaimed the planet. Twenty years later, UNIT is still fighting their Silurian and Sea Devil oppressors. The Brigadier is an embittered, fanatical leader who has lost sight of the plight of individuals; other familiar characters such as Liz Shaw, Jo Grant and Benton are similarly changed by two decades of life-threatening experiences. Into this scenario steps the Doctor and Ace, with a significantly reduced role for Bernice whose absence from much of the book leads me to suspect that Mortimore began writing it before she was introduced.

The most memorable sections are for me the chapters which chronicle Ace and her team's desperate journey through the deserted and decaying streets of London. This whole sequence was strongly reminiscent of John Wyndham's novel Day of the Triffids. Mortimore piles on the tension and emotion as team members start to crack under the strain of the hopelessness of their situation. Ace is, as you might expect, completely in her element. Mortimore writes for her character with a refreshing confidence and assuredness missing from other writers handling her post-Love and War persona. In fact, all the best scenes of the novel seem to involve Ace rather than the Doctor (they're not together very much), and at last she appears to have laid to rest the ghost of her childhood friend Manisha, though to discover quite how she achieves this, read the book.

Blood Heat is as close to flawless as any New Adventures novel has yet attained. Mortimore has proven his worth as a solo writer. Can former co-author Andy Lane do the same?

This item appeared in TSV 36 (November 1993).

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