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State of Change

By Christopher Bulis

Book review by Paul Scoones

If Doctor Who had never returned to our screens after the 1985 hiatus, the New Adventures would probably have been something very like State of Change. I'm not a fan of the Sixth Doctor or Peri and whilst this book did not win me over to them, Christopher Bulis did at least handle their characters in a manner that was largely consistent with the television series.

If you've seen the cover, I'll be giving nothing away by mentioning that Peri reverts back into the bird creature she almost became in Vengeance on Varos. This sounds absurd at first, but after a while it seems reasonable given the wider situation in which the Doctor and Peri find themselves, and in the context of the plot, Peri's powers of flight become quite an important and necessary component of the plot. Bulis has also given some thought to the psychological effects such a change would have on her, which adds credibility.

Bulis doesn't get the characters of the Doctor and Peri quite right though. Early in the story, for quite legitimate reasons, Peri winds up in the console room stark naked, yet neither she or the Doctor make any comment on this fact; which is odd considering they often commented on each other's dress sense in the TV series.

The setting of ancient Rome is not especially central to the plot, which could almost have been located in any time period. It is largely there to provide an interesting background to the action, though the political schemes of the Roman characters did not make for particularly gripping reading.

The latest in an increasing number of returning villains from the television series - like First Frontier a surprise appearance - was almost a wasted opportunity as the villain's first appearance comes late in the book.

The main problem with State of Change is that it is dull. Christopher Bulis has worked out a clever and intriguing plot, with a rational basis for everything, but it is told in a mechanical and dispassionate fashion.

This item appeared in TSV 43 (March 1995).

Index nodes: State of Change