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Parallel 59

By Stephen Cole & Natalie Dallaire

Book review by Brad Schmidt

It's hard to imagine an Eighth Doctor novel being anything less than brilliant of late - and Parallel 59 continues this established trend into 2000 with a frenetic novel questioning Doctor Who's usual clear-cut stereotypes of ‘bad’ and ‘good’ guys.

As if it were a season-opener, the novel begins with an unconscious Doctor and Compassion being rescued from an emergency capsule escaping from an unknown location, and Fitz well-established in a new world. Though sometimes predictable, Parallel 59 is never dull, with a supporting cast who all assume the mantle of “the enemy” at some stage or another - even the Doctor. Everyone is responsible for the events of the story and its conclusion, though little is really resolved: the adventure on the planet Skale simply happens.

Skale is basically something Earth could be, and relies on that to establish the entire planetary culture without detailing it in any exhaustive manner. Gory, more appropriate for Fox television than BBC (which is amusing considering the past employment of one of the authors), and influenced by a recent Keanu Reeves film, Parallel 59 is a prime example of Who in print that should be on screen. It has a scant plot, which relies on treachery and double-cross to sustain its near-300 pages.

Compassion is further developed, yet in rather enigmatic ways. She's one of the most consistent characters of late in personality, yet Fitz is also as consistent but instead in his actions: he's almost competing with the Doctor for companions, albeit of a different sort. Although removed for much of the action, Fitz's experiences are an integral part of the story.

Despite apparently being the fourth of a five-novel story-arc, there's little to connect Parallel 59 to the preceding novels - apart from Fitz's first-person narrative, which weaves Frontier Worlds and Parallel 59 seamlessly together. There have been ambiguous hints though, and it will be interesting to see what happens to the series in Cornell's hands. [4/5]

This item appeared in TSV 60 (June 2000).

Index nodes: Parallel 59