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Goth Opera

By Paul Cornell

Book review by David Lawrence

The Virgin writer's guide asks us to consider The Paradise of Death as a 'prototype' Missing Adventure. I found The Paradise of Death so tedious I couldn't even be bothered trying to review it. Thank God the first proper Missing Adventure, Goth Opera, is nothing like it.

I have to admit I haven't been looking forward to the Missing Adventures. As nostalgic as I am, I prefer progress thus I'm a New Adventures fan. They continue the story, not try and go back to add to what's already been. It's hard to try and accept that the Doctor might have the most incredible adventure of his lives in a Missing Adventure and then never mention it again, especially when the Missing Adventures themselves will probably force continuity down our throats.

Sure enough, Goth Opera lived up to my fears - there's no end of boring unnecessary continuity references, and it's brilliant to the point where, like I said, it's unbelievable to think that the Doctor would never mention it again. Like Cornell's first Doctor Who novel, Revelation, this is a dark, grim and chilling book, with strong characters and fantastic prose.

The characterisation of the TARDIS crew had me a little baffled at first. Tegan in particular comes across in her first scene as more like a stereotyped exaggeration rather than the television character. "I'll bet they've got a few more tinnies back there," she determines. Nyssa seems stuck-up and boring (okay. so perhaps that's not so out-of-character!), and the Doctor... well the Doctor just wants to play cricket.

The other characters are interesting. I loved Jake and Madelaine. In fact most of the Undead are amusing, likeable characters. And Paul Cornell has his vampire folklore spot on.

But the Gallifrey chapter... YAWN!!! Continuity, continuity! Who really cares what happened to Romana? Or Glitz? The entirety of Chapter Six seemed irrelevant and unnecessary.

Other than that, Goth Opera is brilliant. Not really a 1983 Peter Davison story, but more along the lines of what might have been had Peter Davison been the Doctor in 1994. The Missing Adventures couldn't have had a stronger start, but with John Peel writing the next one, things can only go downhill from here!

Book review by Jamas Enright

At last, some new fiction featuring a different Doctor! (The Paradise of Death is too appalling to consider.) The Missing Adventures are supposed to be more classical Who, the kind on television, not the varied styles we have seen in the New Adventures. The style is certainly different to that of the New Adventures. It is a lot simpler and straightforward (which is surprising considering that Paul Cornell wrote it), but I couldn't quite see it as an adventure on screen. There was too much dialogue, and the Doctor was almost incidental.

The plot was well done. Here we have Vampires at home, popping out for the odd Indian take-away. The Vampires' side is shown, which hasn't been done before. Paul certainly shows that Vampires can be likable.

Jake and Madelaine made a nice counterpoint to Ruath and Yarven. Victor Lang was also very well done, especially in the light of his secret. Nyssa, of course, was well portrayed, but the Doctor and Tegan were very slight. All the Doctor did was play cricket and drink tea. All Tegan did was make cups of tea.

In a more 'classical' adventure, as this is supposed to be, I see the Doctor as playing a more intricate role in the adventure, not just popping in off the sidelines every once in a while to contribute. The style was fitting, but some of the explanations were just too stupid to be believable, even for Doctor Who (Garlic makes the quantum world more classical? A chronic hystere- chronic hyst- time loop?) Overall, not a bad start to a new line, and a refreshing change from the contortions of the New Adventures.

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).

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