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Killing Ground

By Steve Lyons

Book review by Paul Scoones

Heavily borrowing from the fictitious elements of David Banks' Cybermen reference book, Killing Ground is a chillingly morbid exploration of the physical and mental process of cybernetic conversion. Steve Lyons picks up the familiar (yet highly effective) Doctor Who plot device of an isolated colony of humans under threat and introduces the concept of a squad of Cybermen regularly culling the populace of suitable subjects for converting into Cybermen. The deeper moral implications of 'cyberisation' are explored when a rebellious group of humans within the colony decide to overthrow their oppressors by creating their own cybernetic army.

Promising though all this sounds, unfortunately in Lyons' hands the story somehow fails to enthral. There are memorable moments, particularly a very chilling passage delivering a blow-by-blow description of an established character's voluntary transition to a Cyberman. On the whole the plot plods along as if somewhere between idea and execution the author has simply lost interest in his story. My interest in the novel was not assisted by the inclusion of the Sixth Doctor (my least favourite incarnation) and Lyons' own companion creation, Grant Markham, whose actions in this story are enough to earn him the label in my mind of 'Adric clone'. Without the enthralling depiction of the Cybermen Killing Ground would have nothing to commend it, but there is much here to appeal to fans of the series' silver giants.

This item appeared in TSV 48 (August 1996).

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