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No Future

By Paul Cornell

Reviewed by David Bishop

Humour has never been a major element in Paul Cornell's writing to date. Indeed parts of Timewyrm: Revelation were positively grim. But with No Future he heads for the funny bone with a vengeance and delivers a cracking good read in the process. Perhaps a bit too much running around but hey, this is Doctor Who.

No Future concludes the 'Alternative Universe' cycle of novels and reveals the true culprit behind the series of false Earths or the recent New Adventures. It is of course the - nah, read the book yourself; it's worth the effort.

Ace, Benny and the Doctor are in punk-era London, circa 1976. But here 'Anarchy in the UK' is not merely a slogan but fast becoming a reality as terrorists fight the establishment and an alien invasion threatens to overwhelm UNIT. Plus the Brigadier seems to have gone a bit funny, which really worries Benton. And whatever happened to that nice Mike Yates?

Fortunately the alien invaders are one of the Doctor's crappiest foes (which Cornell acknowledges in a hilarious parody sequence of Benny as typical 70s companion), and even the ultimate villain of the piece comes across as just a bit lonely and frustrated, with some dubious urges transposed onto Ace.

The comedy and the characterisation make this book, with a lovely Goodies tribute and the secret significance of Paul McCartney, Wings and Remember You're a Womble revealed at last.

I got a real sense of Benny's personality in this novel, which had escaped me in some of the other New Adventures (still haven't read Love and War yet. which could explain things). She's an intriguing companion and Paul draws her out well, with Ace getting a few things out of her system too.

Plotwise, I got to page 150 and started to worrier where the book could go from there. Not quite round and round in circles but there did seem to be a lot of running about. I really enjoyed No Future and would recommend it to anyone but just occasionally I couldn't help feeling it had been script edited - by Douglas Adams and produced by Graham Williams...

This item appeared in TSV 38 (March 1994).

Index nodes: No Future