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Blood Heat

By Jim Mortimore

Book review by David Lawrence

The ending of Doctor Who and the Silurians has always been near the top of my 'I wonder what would happen if...?' list, so I'm surprised it's taken 23 years for someone else to pick up on the idea! And fortunately Jim Mortimore goes for the same angle I would have done - with the Silurians as the victors.

Mortimore shows us a convincing Earth after twenty years of Silurian enslavement. UNIT are back, but not as we remember them! Benton, Liz and the Brigadier are all surprisingly reminiscent of their parallel selves from Inferno, and once again Liz is the only character I had any sympathy for. Benton has become thoroughly unlikeable and the Brigadier is a pitiful imitation of his original self, reduced to 'we must make a better world for the children' clichés. Interestingly though it ties back to the 'What will you give the children?' question asked of Kadiatu in Transit.

Jim Mortimore is a fluid and strong writer and Blood Heat is an interesting novel - but there's something not right about it and I can't put my finger on what it is. I think the only problem was that I expected too much of it! I was hoping for 'as close to flawless as any New Adventures novel has yet attained' and instead it was just a very good book.

Book review by Chris Girdler

'Jurassic Who'? Jim Mortimore adds an extra dimension to this 'what if' scenario - the Silurians. The reduction of the 'psionosaurowhatever' to 'monsters who kill people' in Warriors of the Deep was not a popular move - here the story follows similar moral undercurrents that the original Silurian serial used.

Blood Heat is best described as a sequel to The Silurians - there are very few original characters involved. Jo Grant is changed beyond all recognition; here she is more of a plot device than a character and could have been replaced by anyone. Liz Shaw, on the other hand, has an added vitality which is a commendable move, considering her short-lived stint on the show. The UNIT boys are rather blood-thirsty due to their hazardous experiences over the past twenty years.

It really is hard to see how Blood Heat could fail as a novel with its excellent continuity it's probably the most indulgent 'for the fans' New Adventure yet. Thankfully, the novel doesn't fall into the cozy, reunion-style Five Doctors mode. The reactions of long lost friends meeting after two decades are very unpredictable - best of all was the strangely violent Manisha-Ace relationship.

I was surprised to learn that Mortimore's original story focused on the dinosaurs because in this version they are reduced to props (either obstacles for humans or vehicles for Silurians), and the sudden appearance of this amount of dinosaurs is not sufficiently explained. Whilst Bernice is conveniently thrown into the vortex and Ace plays Rambo with dogs and dinosaurs, the Doctor puts his feet up aboard the Silurians' warship and the philosophical debate begins. It's all rather tedious 'been there, done that' material, getting no further than Pertwee's Doctor did. It's not helped by the clichéd 'second-in-command upstart attempts to overthrow the level-headed agreeable Silurian leader' concept. I found the recurring 'for the children' phrase a little contrived - Blood Heat is at its best when it's down and dirty.

This is the book's plus factor - there are several tense exciting moments where it is difficult not to become involved. Etched on my memory is the segment where Ace attempts to save Manisha as the Silurians turn up the heat. The submarine sequence was one of the best parts of the novel, as was the desperate attempt to get medical supplies.

Despite this, Mortimore's first individual novel is no match for Lucifer Rising. Behind the familiar faces, countless dinosaurs and blood-thirsty battles, there is a rather brittle, largely undetectable storyline. The alternative dimension problem is never resolved - at least in Exodus the Doctor patched up the problem. The emphasis was obviously on characterization and this is why the aforementioned scenarios were so engaging. I just can't shrug off the feeling that I've been to a big-budget movie that relied heavily on effects and less heavily on a good story.

Book review by Alden Bates

At last I get to read a Benny Summerfield New Adventure; pity she wasn't around for most of it. Ace gets a nitro-nine 'smart bomb'. Let's hold a competition for the most bizarre form of nitro. How about nitro-nine flame thrower?

This book is an interesting concept, but somehow I feel something went wrong. The depiction of the ruined London is good, but it's been done before. The freedom fighters are good; been done before too. The depiction of the ruling Silurians is something I think didn't come off as well. Their civilization just isn't explored as in depth as I'd like, it doesn't seem to expand much on the original Silurians. Most of the action concentrates on the Brigadier and his group.

Morka retains his name from The Cave Monsters novelisation. However Icthar gets his name from Warriors of the Deep, and he had a different name, K'to, in The Cave Monsters.

Taken over all, the book is pretty good; plenty of action and gripping prose. It falls down rather badly in the continuity department towards the end, mainly in the references to the Silurians. The Silurians filled in the hole they made when they kidnapped the Doctor, didn't they? There were one or two other problems, including the Doctor's conveniently forgotten exile. Also, one wonders who intervened and stopped half a dozen alien invasions, destroyers and sundry conquers of Earth.

I'm going to give Blood Heat a six for originality, if you discount Harry Harrison's novel, East of Eden.

This item appeared in TSV 38 (March 1994).

Index nodes: Blood Heat