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Head Games

By Steve Lyons

Book review by Nicholas Withers

Steve Lyons' latest novel is a bizarre mix. The back cover, with its spiel about Dr Who trying to save the universe from the evil of the Doctor, promised humour, which is very sparse within the actual novel. The book also sees the return of Mel (thankfully only for the book and not as a permanent member of the crew), serves as a sequel to Conundrum, and expands on Paul Cornell's ideas concerning the Doctor being Time's Champion.

The end result is slightly disappointing.

Although without a doubt Mel and Cornell's ideas bounce off each other well, the plot itself does not seem to suit the conflict going on between some of the major characters.

The Doctor very sombre and withdrawn in this book, fighting a war with his inner self, and with the large number of companions in the book his own actions are pushed further to the side.

Steve Lyons handles Mel well, and especially excels in her reaction to the dark Doctor (a persona she never knew), and the armed companions he now has. Mel also provides a firm link with Millennial Rites (which in many ways is a prequel to this book).

Of all the regular companions the only one who really stands out is Chris Cwej, as for the first time some of the blocks of his naivety are pulled down.

Where Head Games does work is in the expansion of Cornell's ideas, creating a powerful emotional struggle that should have been central to the plot, rather than the subplot it is. Nevertheless this book contains my favourite New Adventure moment of all time.

Head Games is definitely worth the read for the sheer power of a few brilliant pages. It is a shame that the rest of the book could not have measured up to the same degree as these selective parts. Perhaps we could see another New Adventure deal with the same ideas but in more depth.

This item appeared in TSV 46 (January 1996).

Index nodes: Head Games