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The Dying Days

By Lance Parkin

Book review by Paul Scoones

If Virgin had never lost the Doctor Who fiction licence, The Dying Days might have been the first in a whole range of New Adventures featuring the new Doctor. As it is, this is both the first and last Virgin Eighth Doctor outing. And the publishers could not have hoped for a stronger exit.

Lance Parkin has delivered a staggeringly superb epic adventure, bringing McGann's Doctor to life on the printed page with bold, confident strokes. Parkin is the first writer to truly deliver what the TV movie denied us - a look at the new Doctor in action, unhindered by post-regenerative trauma. Paired up with Virgin's most successful creation - Bernice Summerfield - the Eighth Doctor is a delight, exuding the finest qualities of confidence and heroism. And in his portrayal of Bernice, Parkin seems to effortlessly out- Cornell Paul Cornell from the moment of her introduction in the familiar environs of the Doctor's house in Allen Road to her unexpected and a little shocking final farewell to the Doctor.

The story itself is, at its most basic level, a traditional Doctor Who plot involving aliens - in this case the Ice Warriors - invading London in contemporary times. Traditional maybe, but it struck me after reading this novel just how much this particular plot has fallen out of fashion in the realm of the New Adventures. Parkin is perhaps more than a little influenced by a certain recent blockbuster movie in his vivid description of a huge spaceship moving slowly over central London.

It's the little touches which are the icing on the cake of The Dying Days, though, such as the cheeky mingling of real-life and fictional people at a celebrity event and moments such as the Eighth Doctor and Bernice discussing the merits of the tenth Star Trek movie. Lance Parkin's prose positively sparkles with wit and intelligence. The Dying Days ranks as one of my top five favourite New Adventures. In one sense it is the end, but if there is any justice, it sets the standard for BBC Books' own range of Eighth Doctor novels. This is one hell of a tough act to follow.

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).

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