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By Paul Leonard

Book review by Paul Scoones

Paul Leonard delivers some very imaginative concepts in his novels, but his writing style is curiously distancing. It is hard to feel for the characters or to be gripped by the action which inevitably makes the reading experience somewhat dull. For this reason, I have put off tackling his previous book, Speed of Flight. A change of editor and publisher might have provided a fresh spark, but unfortunately Genocide suffers from all the same deficiencies as Leonard's earlier novels.

The eighth Doctor and Sam arrive on Earth of the near future to find it populated by an alien race, the Tractites, who have occupied the planet since Paleolithic times. Humans no longer exist and it is clear that somehow a drastic deviation has occurred in the time-line. The twist is that the Tractites are not aggressive alien conquerors, but a peaceful race oblivious to the history that their presence has erased. The Doctor is therefore faced with a terrible moral dilemma since to put time back on its rightful course will mean erasing the Tractites.

The action inevitably moves to the point when the deviation occurred, at it is here that former companion Jo Grant, now an older and wiser woman, is reunited with the Doctor. Although Jo's involvement in the plot is a point of additional interest, her identity is barely relevant. It almost seems as if Paul Leonard is trying to compensate for an inability to instil the reader's emotional involvement with his characters by using one with which the reader's attachment is assured.

Leonard is probably better suited to working in a writing partnership in which his weaknesses as an author can be compensated by another author capable of engaging the reader's interest in the characters. [2/5]

This item appeared in TSV 52 (November 1997).

Index nodes: Genocide