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Frontier Worlds

By Peter Anghelides

Book review by Brad Schmidt

Most Who deals with an imminent problem which needs to be resolved within a set number of pages or minutes. Frontier Worlds is more about the Doctor and company trying to find out about the problem, the Krynoid-like Raab, than telling the story of how they stop it. Indeed, said problem is barely dealt with in the novel, perhaps because while Anghelides created a chilling, monstrous prospect, the conclusion of such a set piece was just as monstrous to evisage, and was better left alone. There's still a satisfying sense of closure, and while Frontier Worlds also avoids the “story arc” of late, it still fascinatingly touches upon Compassion. Fitz is as obnoxious as usual, especially inescapably in that much of the narrative is given to his first-person relation of events.

Like Peter Anghelides' earlier work Kursaal, Frontier Worlds is about change (often literally, and gruesome to boot) and could equally have taken place in any post-19th century environment. Its similar placing in the future gives a nice point from which to reflect on the events of the past two years since a still-young Doctor left Kursaal; and to look towards an exciting and equally foreboding future.

The characters are all rather stereotypical, of which Anghelides seems aware, and which is the difference from his first effort. Frontier Worlds is fun while frightening, with enough miraculous escapes and explosions to qualify its place amongst the greatest of James Bond-esque adventures. Lead villain Sempiter is almost blatantly playing the “bad guy”, which makes the opening and closing scenes with his more-genuine colleague Mozarno - helpless and ill - all the more poignant and bitter.

Quite why Frontier Worlds is brilliant escapes me, because it offers little in the way of plot or character that is innovative, and it's not always particularly amazingly written. Then again, neither is it the opposite - perhaps this novel is so satisfying because it's reliable and constant. [4/5]

This item appeared in TSV 60 (June 2000).

Index nodes: Frontier Worlds