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By Jim Mortimore

Book review by Paul Scoones

This book reads as if the author completed it in a rush. After a strong start, the adventure accelerates towards its conclusion at the expense of sometimes vital plot explanation. The last few pages encapsulate several days in a very hasty and unsatisfactory manner, almost as if Mortimore had resorted to recounting the last few paragraphs of his plot summary.

The Doctor and his companions are put through the emotional wringer which seems rather repetitive given the punishing circumstances of their previous adventure. The ending leaves the reader hanging - the individual fates of the Doctor, Ace and Benny are somewhat uncertain since not one of them is in good health, yet given the usual track record for the New Adventures it seems highly unlikely that the next book will resolve this state of affairs satisfactorily.

The real strength of Parasite is the gallery of very alien flora and fauna encountered in the Elysium system. This is a prime example of the sort of Doctor Who adventure that would be completely unfilmable as a live-action drama. Alongside such an interesting and dramatic backdrop, the human characters are rather unmemorable, and consequently it is difficult to feel sympathy for their grisly plight.

In terms of its subject matter, Parasite belongs alongside such science fiction novels as Arthur C Clarke's Rendezous with Rama, Greg Bear's Eon and Larry Niven's Ringworld - all of which are primarily about the exploration of a large alien artifact.

Parasite is for the most part an enjoyable and undoubtedly highly imaginative and creative New Adventure. It just doesn't meet the expectations built up by Mortimore's previous novels.

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).

Index nodes: Parasite