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Oh No It Isn't!

By Paul Cornell

Book review by Paul Scoones

First impressions are crucial to the success of the Doctor-less New Adventures. Most Doctor Who fans have a strictly limited budget for new books, and I'm guessing that it would not take much prompting for many readers to abandon collecting the New Adventures in favour of spending ones money on the new BBC Books, which do, after all, still feature the Doctor and his television companions.

Therefore Paul Cornell's novel has the unenviable task of convincing consumers that there's still good reason to keep reading the NAs (as they are now officially known). Unfortunately Oh No It Isn't! failed to impress me. I'm a big fan of almost all of Cornell's novels and also greatly admire his creation, Bernice Summerfield. I expected that the combination of two favourites would be enough to enamour me to the book, but finished it feeling somehow let down.

The action takes place for the most part in a ridiculous pastiche of traditional pantomime scenarios, strongly reminiscent in places of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. The cat on the front cover, which I initially took to be one of Gary Russell's Cat-People, is in fact Wolsey, transformed in a surreal pantomime world as Dick Whittington's companion, Puss in Boots. There are jokes aplenty, and at times it seems almost as if the only reason for anything happening at all is so that the writer can set the scene for the next piece of bawdy innuendo.

Inevitably, away from the Doctor's chaotic lifestyle, Bernice's lifestyle must become a little less associated with disasters and corruption of galaxy-threatening proportions to be convincing, but such tedious and inconsequential diversions as this book are unlikely to win over many from the old New Adventures, let alone attract a fresh readership. Let's hope that like previous first offerings in Virgin's Doctor Who series, this book proves to be one of its poorer examples.

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).

Index nodes: Oh No It Isn't