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The Dimension Riders

by Daniel Blythe

Book review by Paul Scoones

If there's one Doctor Who story that springs to mind as you read this book it will be Shada. Part of the plot, involving Professors Bernice Summerfield and James Rafferty, is set in and around St Matthew's College, Oxford University; and the college president is a retired Time Lord! Before you start wondering if Douglas Adams's lawyers are preparing to descend, I should point out that this is where the similarity ends. Blythe even seems to be acknowledging this resemblance in his inclusion of The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey in the plot (in fact, the book even gets quoted in the prologue).

The majority of the book straddles two very different time zones. Bernice is on Earth in November 1993 (excellent timing for the book's release!), and the Doctor and Ace are in deep space in the 24th century, though for quite a while even these two are separated in time and space. It's unfortunate that Daniel Blythe places Ace on a starship (the Icarus), with a bunch of military types who happen to be members of the Terran Survey Corps, but might as well be IMC or Tairngire Marines. This coincidental duplication is no fault of the author's, but it did adversely affect my enjoyment of this part of the plot.

Partly because of this and also due to the neat Shada connection, I found myself drawn to the contemporary Earth segments to a point where I was catching myself skipping over the Doctor and Ace bits to reach the next installment in Bernice and Rafferty's adventures. Somehow, I just didn't find the future segments as absorbing. The crews of the space station Q4 and the starship Icarus were both a little hard to distinguish in terms of identifying individuals, so it was fortunate that Blythe had thoughtfully provided a list of characters to aid the reader in telling them apart.

The plot is rather intricate and complex, requiring close attention from the reader. Unfortunately, I read this book under rather trying circumstances, and I believe that with a second read I will gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the novel. It is a very well-written book, and I am looking forward to giving it my undivided attention.

This item appeared in TSV 36 (November 1993).

Index nodes: The Dimension Riders