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Venusian Lullaby

By Paul Leonard

Book review by Felicity Scoones

Venusian Lullaby as an incredible in-depth portrayal of an alien society. Set on Venus in its last days, most of the book is told from within the Venusian mind-set. Venusian society is complex, factionated and hierarchical. Their science is a product of their environment and their own evolution. Their funeral arrangements while superficially horrific from a human perspective make perfect sense when viewed through Venusian eyes.

The most interesting and individualised characters in the book are a group of Venusian children who have a number of chance encounters with the Doctor, Ian and Barbara. The children's attitudes, such as their labelling of humanoids as 'stickwalkers', are unselfconsciously embedded in their culture, resulting in extremely convincing scenes. The children's naivety also provides the few elements of humour in the book.

The Doctor is most definitely the first; crabby, unpredictable, and Ian and Barbara are fundamentally unsure as to whether they can rely on him. Barbara is the most central character in the book and is depicted as being perhaps more outgoing than she originally was on the television series. Allowing for the fact that she doesn't drink, swear or have a background in archeology she could almost be Bernice. This is not necessarily a bad thing as the result is an interesting character with whom it is easy to have sympathy. Ian has a more conservative, Sixties outlook than Barbara and it is easier to visualise him as William Russell than it is to imagine Jacqueline Hill riding around on a five legged green creature about the size of a large dog kennel, dressed only in a belly wrap. That said, Ian is a less engaging character than Barbara.

Although the concept behind Venusian Lullaby is highly original - a complex society, aware of their planet's imminent death, but not quite scientifically advanced enough to have found a workable solution - the plot is thin on the ground. It comprises largely of a series of abductions and chases by various groups who believe that the Doctor or his companions are an integral part of the solution to the Venusians' problem.

The end product is a satisfying book due mainly to its thorough depiction of a truly alien culture. I recommend it.

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).

Index nodes: Venusian Lullaby