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Illegal Alien

By Mike Tucker & Robert Perry

Book review by Paul Scoones

After years of novels featuring a darkly manipulative Seventh Doctor and an angst-ridden Ace, it is an odd experience, and yet also strangely refreshing to read a new novel featuring the television interpretations of these two characters. Like Time's Crucible, The Pit, Iceberg and Lungbarrow, Illegal Alien started life as a television script submission, and budgetary constraints aside, it is not too difficult to imagine this claustrophobic tale of a Cyberman invasion of London during the Blitz taking place on the small screen.

Although actual appearances by the Cybermen are few and far between - perhaps a hangover from the constraints of the story's intended medium - the authors utilise the creatures effectively and place emphasis - like 'Cyber novelists' David Banks and Steve Lyons before them - on the horrors of the Cybernisation process.

The main 'guest character' is a stereotypical American detective Cody McBride who seems to have been cast from the same mould as Blood Harvest's Thomas Dekker. Perhaps the authors were trying to say that an American PI is himself something of an 'alien' in 1940 London, but the point is lost because the character is too one dimensional to properly sustain the reader's interest.

The Seventh Doctor and Ace are however very well written, which is perhaps not all that surprisingly given that special effects man Mike Tucker regularly witnessed McCoy and Aldred in action first-hand during the making of the show.

An enjoyable novel well worth reading, especially if you're curious to know what might have been had the show continued for another season or two beyond Survival. [3/5]

This item appeared in TSV 53 (March 1998).

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