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The Dimension Riders

By Daniel Blythe

Book review by Chris Girdler

Most Doctor Who stories use the concept of time travel simply as a means to get to various planets or periods of Earth's history. The Dimension Riders is different in that it focuses on a unique paradox bound together by three locations. So many New Adventures novels choose to explore space, so it's refreshing to have a book that tackles the complexities of time.

Like White Darkness, I can easily imagine this as a televised story - it's easy to imagine Station Q4 as a creaky BBC set and the Oxford scenes would have provided beautiful location work (we only have to watch Shada for proof of this). I usually prefer novels that use the New Adventures format to go further, but in light of the rather overblown scenarios of the previous two novels; it's quite nice to go back to basics. The Dimension Riders is also quite similar to David McIntee's novel in that the Doctor, Ace and Berny get equally respectable treatment - Blythe writes well for all three characters.

It's a very consistent piece which follows a clever plot at a good pace. The pattern of different locations provides variation - 1990's England and deep space may seem pretty unrelated but the subplots are neatly connected, leaving no room for plot holes. There is little padding and with less emphasis on characterization than your average New Adventure, the novel's strongest quality is the compact enjoyable plot.

Although there is less characterization, the usually wooden military types were reasonably well written, more so than the forgettable characters in Shadowmind or White Darkness. I certainly didn't see the need for a 'Dramatis Personae' especially, as it was pointed in last issue's letters pages, it states some points which would have been more effective had they been revealed during the unravelling of the story. Some minor characters are missed out of this list and these are usually the ones who kick the bucket after a couple of pages.

The last thing I wanted to read as the story reached the climax was another surreal trip through the TARDIS. This break in a straight-forward novel only serves as a distraction. It was out of place in Birthright as well. As an attempt to elevate the climax it failed - the actual trap being laid for the Icarus's Time Soldiers was a lot more interesting. This is the only flaw of the novel but I was also confused at the relevance of the Doctor sending a message to the Icarus when they didn't receive his information anyway.

The Dimension Riders will probably be dismissed by many as average because it's a rather low-key unambitious adventure. I enjoyed the seemingly invincible Time Soldiers' invasion of the Icarus, perhaps more so than the Garvond himself (a more convincing creation than the Nemesis). It can get confusing but this is balanced out by Daniel Blythe's easy-to-read style of writing. The book's got a nice 'Who-ish' atmosphere, not to mention a lovely cover portrait by Jeff Cummins.

This item appeared in TSV 38 (March 1994).

Index nodes: The Dimension Riders