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By David Banks

Book review by David Lawrence

Irony works in funny ways - as a rule I hate stories where it takes ages for the Doctor to turn up and get involved. In Iceberg, I actually found myself wishing he wouldn't!

Real literature is about characters first and plots second, and that's why Paul Cornell's books stand head and shoulders over every other item to bear a Doctor Who logo. And that's also why Iceberg is so good, because the characters are fantastically written and realistic. Like Revelation, Love and War, Nightshade and Warhead, David Banks has given us a novel rather than just a book. The majority of Iceberg is Ruby Duvall's story. She's an enthralling character and from her first entrance my attention was held by the skill with which David Banks has written her.

And then there's the Cybermen... having David Banks write a Cyber story is an obvious advantage, and it is thanks to him that my favourite Doctor Who monsters are frightening again. Excluding Earthshock, I haven't enjoyed a Cyber story since the Troughton era. And this is very much in the style of that era - the Cybermen have a minimal presence until their plans are fully under way, and when they do finally show up they really are Cybermen, with no signs of emotion and no motives other than to "proliferate and survive".

It was disappointing to see the STS team fade so quickly into the background after playing such a prominent part in the first half of the book. And again with irony, in a book full of richly textured characters, the Doctor falls a little flat and two-dimensional.

DWM's Craig Hinton gave this book a rather scathing review, but I disagree - Iceberg is a powerful book and one of the best New Adventures to date. David Banks has put the Cybermen back on track. Great cover too - my favourite, in fact.

Here's food for thought - imagine what the results might be if Virgin could persuade John Scott Martin to write the next Dalek novel!

Book review by Adam McGechan

Never before have I had to read such excruciating padding. At least two hundred pages could be easily removed from David Banks' appalling Cyber novel and you'd still be left with a bunch of Cybermen of indeterminate origin wandering around some ice caverns in search of a paper-thin plot that was lost long ago. The prospect of a lone Doctor battling one of my personal favourite menaces was a particularly inviting one, yet the Doctor (who is well out of character) only makes a couple of cameo appearances in the first half of the book, then seems to get caught up with the Cybermen in their somewhat weak attempt at subjugating humanity without adding much to the storyline.

What the actual point of the story is I'm still not quite sure; I'm afraid the mess of insignificant, unnecessary and very annoying subplots drowned out the actual guts of the adventure. Although we are introduced to a reasonably large number of characters, they are all rather forgettable as not one has any personality or seems to do anything important.

A number of errors pop up, the main one being the Cybermen themselves. Assuming that they are of an Invasion type design, I fail to see why they have three fingers; indeed the design on the cover is clearly the hand of a Wheel in Space type Cyberman. David Banks is a confused man, and this book clearly shows it.

Book review by Chris Girdler

David Banks' novel is unique in that it features the Doctor without his regular companions and is the first New Adventure to use well-known television monsters as the central villains.

In Iceberg Benny and Ace are not even mentioned. Instead we get a new individual companion created by the author; snubbing the Doctor's regular companions - how Ben Aaronovitch. The difference is that Ruby (enter a truckload of references to rubies), is a more interesting credible character than Kadiatu. She is the central character in Iceberg and the main plot follows her travels on the 'Over the Rainbow' cruise. The pace here is slow but aided by Banks' fluid writing style. The excellent characterisation (the ship entertainers provide light relief) is intertwined with some chilling moments such as the discovery of the human head and Leslie's sighting of a 'deep sea diver' in the ice which reminds you of the novel's villains.

The Cybermen are portrayed as dull, droning, emotionless rational monsters - and so they should be; David Banks leaves the characterisation to the humans. This is a return to the frightening silver giants of the Troughton era, before the wimpy, emotional Cybermen of the eighties. led, ironically, by David Banks' Cyber leader.

As his Cybermen book showed, Banks is an accurate historian of the Cybermens' progress and the tie-ins with The Tenth Planet and Invasion increase the credibility of the entire setup. It even has the origins of the Cybercontroller and the Cybermats.

Despite these connections with the past, the novel has a very modern flavour, unafraid to lapse into technical jargon or unfamiliar territory. The usage of the word 'fuck' will be sure to prompt fans to write in to Peter Darvill-Evans reminding him of the good old days when the Doctor tut-tutted Dodo for saying 'fab'. Extra brownie points for the fact that gold can't stop the Cybermen, and the lovely cover painting by Andrew Skilleter (better than all of his Timewyrm covers put together).

The minor flaw in Iceberg is that it is not consistent. For the first half of the novel the Doctor is mentioned even less than in Birthright, and we focus on the built-up characterisation of Ruby Duvall and Pam Cutler. As soon as the Doctor and Cybermen become involved Iceberg does a sudden turn and goes to breakneck speed. I get the impression that had the Doctor and/or Cybermen become involved sooner, the book wouldn't be so disjointed. I liked the vulnerable, distant version of the Doctor, reminiscent of his Nightshade persona.

As soon as Ruby and the Doctor arrive at the STS base, Pam Cutler suddenly vanishes and we never discover her fate at the end of the novel. This is unusual, as she is a very important character in the first half of Iceberg. Did she ever find out what really happened to her father?

Niggles aside, Iceberg is such a well-written Seventh Doctor Cyberman story it makes Silver Nemesis seem even more pathetic and shallow than it really is. It's a touch biased towards Ruby Duvall's character, but I preferred it to Ace and Benny's Charrl-busting adventure.

Now if only Jim Mortimore can bring the best out of the Silurians and co. without spawning another Warriors of the Deep...

This item appeared in TSV 37 (January 1994).

Index nodes: Iceberg