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The Ghosts of N-Space

By Barry Letts

Book review by Francis Cooke

Warlock scored a 10/10 with me. The Romance of Crime got another, and Set Piece ran off with a mindboggling 11/10. A fall was bound to come.

And so The Ghosts of N-Space plummets off the cliff, to be ripped to shreds on the rocks below by us fans. I remember someone saying long ago in TSV that with Barry Letts writing The Paradise of Death, another disaster like Slipback should be avoided. Little did we know. I haven't actually read The Paradise of Death, and I doubt I will after the fan reaction to it, and this book.

We start with someone called Sarah (what do you mean it's Sarah Jane Smith? It can't be!), trying to write a novel, which would never get accepted anywhere and has some of the worst cliches imaginable. In the book, these same coincidences occur during the story, and I suppose this is Barry Letts saying that coincidences like that happen all the time. All it said to me is that Letts is as bad at writing as Sarah (Later - heard on the radio that two men stood up in a waiting room when their surname was called, and turned out to be long lost brothers. Damn!)

It's a long time since I last read about or saw the Third Doctor, so I can't bicker on about his character, and the Brigadier seemed to be a little less of the haughty yelling soldier to me. Then of course there's Jeremy. Did you hate and despise Adric, and think that sometimes all he was there for was cheap gags? Well, now we've got someone who's always causing silly little jokes and doing stupid things. He helps a bit towards the end. but apart from that all he did was stumble around messing things up. We have a silly American villain who's supposedly waited centuries for his revenge, a prostitute, an unbelievable Italian man related to the Brigadier, a servant girl who still haunts the castle looking for (dramatic music) her long lost love, and an Elvis clone who is only there to set up another huge coincidence.

We have two main settings, an Italian castle and N-Space. N-Space is a place where your soul goes before entering the netherworld, and occasionally a soul will not move on, and stays in N-Space haunting the living. This will undoubtedly cause confusion with the N-Space and E-Space which the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K9 had cause to chat about, and I didn't find anything that happened here particularly gripping. The castle, despite seeming ridiculously big, is quite good. We see it in three different time zones, and though much of what it looks like is left up to the imagination, I didn't mind filling in the occasional gaps in the description.

A heavy rewrite and a BIG rethink about characters, and perhaps The Ghosts of N-Space would be a good book, but until then I'll be at the bottom of the cliff ripping. (5/10)

This item appeared in TSV 45 (September 1995).

Index nodes: The Ghosts of N-Space