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Legacy

By Gary Russell

Book review by Phillip J. Gray

Legacy is very well-structured and well-written. The Martians are wonderful, Gary Russell's understanding of Brian Hayles' creations is superb, and the exploration of their culture and heritage is completely authentic. And yet at no time did such elaboration come across as padding, because the plot was rollercoaster-like in its speed. The story is carried along so fast to its climax that it does leave one metaphorically breathless, making a welcome change to some of Legacy's more turgid compatriots.

While the book has been criticised for having too many characters, I personally did not find this the case. The characters are all well-defined and stand out from the page as distinct individuals. This is in marked contrast to the virtually indistinguishable characters in Theatre of War. The regulars are well-served; Benny in particular (although I was slightly disappointed that the conflict between Bernice's academic ideals and her practical encounters hinted at the back cover blurb was not explored a little more fully). The other main characters are all interesting, although I was sorry that Atissa died so early in the book as she seemed to me to be a character begging for further development. Ken was a though-provoking premise, accompanied by an irritating catch cry that somehow failed to be carried through as much as I felt the character could have been. The villain was wonderfully obvious in the best traditions of the TV series. Perhaps I spoilt it for myself, but I guessed he was the nasty one immediately. Alpha Centauri, my favourite character from the Peladon stories was well portrayed, although there were times when I had the strong feeling that Alpha was slightly untrustworthy. Odd. Neal Corry and Hyntyn were marvellous! (Are they really like that?)

Although I sometimes feel that New Adventures drown their readers in continuity, Gary Russell's continuity is inoffensive because it has a definite reason for being present, to flesh out the characters and the situation. However Legacy also comes across as a tribute to Gary's fellow fans which seems a little self-indulgent, but this is Gary's first book, so I can understand the nature of the temptation. I was shocked by the King's decision at the end, but thinking back it was a logical move to make after the progression of both narrated and implied events. Legacy is a very good book, although one which is aimed definitely at those who have some detailed background knowledge of the Peladon stories. I don't feel that this is a bad thing, as they were crying out for a tribute and Russell was certainly the man to do it. I'm not convinced that anyone aside from Doctor Who fans actually read the New Adventures (certainly my 'serious literary SF' friends find the idea of literary Doctor Who fiction rather ridiculous) so this doesn't seem to matter to me. Who's writing the Autons New/Missing Adventure?

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).

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