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The Final Sanction

By Steve Lyons

Book review by Brad Schmidt

Historical adventures in Doctor Who are usually based around the fact that the situation in which the time travellers find themselves cannot be altered, for fear of damaging... er... well, just causing a lot of damage in general. This ambiguity is particularly evident in Doctor Who, which often seems hypocritical in that the Doctor can do as he pleases to post-twentieth century “history”, but is pedantic about leaving intact anything that has taken place beforehand.

Steve Lyons has used this idea thoroughly where other writers have only mused - in a full-length novel, dealing with a twenty-third century event the Doctor knows - just as surely as he knows that Salem must endure its witch trials, or that New York didn't endure the arrival of Gods - must occur without interference. Lyons has just as certainly produced yet another excellent novel, which is strange considering The Final Sanction bears just as much resemblance to the droll The Murder Game as it does to his First Doctor novels - pitting the Second Doctor against those aquatic stereotypes, the Selachians.

His companions are different, this time around. After this year's almost consistent success in representing familiar partnerships in new stories, there seems little need to acknowledge Lyon's undoubted hold over Jamie and Zoe - and the Doctor - over the course of the action. The Selachians are rather endearing, through obvious attempts by the author at so representing them. The true horror of war is bought home, not in the almost familiar wars of our history for once, but on an alien planet destined for destruction.

As the utterly absorbing story unfolds, all the TARDIS crew are guilty of changing history, and never before has it seemed so imperative to the reader that history must stay the same. The Final Sanction is the pinnacle of Doctor Who in 1999 thus far, and does much to resolve criticisms levelled at BBC Books. [5/5]

This item appeared in TSV 58 (September 1999).

Index nodes: The Final Sanction