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Zeta Major

By Simon Messingham

Book review by Paul Scoones

The practice of slotting books between TV adventures can lead to subtle new twists of continuity; this novel's placement is a case in point. When the Doctor mentions traces of anti-matter at the outset of Snakedance we can imagine that it is not Omega but the events of this novel to which he is referring.

Simon Messingham, whose previous work was the rather odd Strange England a few years back, has created a compelling sequel to Planet of Evil. Picking up on scant information about the Morestrans in the TV story, Messingham has constructed a complex civilisation on the point of social collapse - due to the Doctor's glib remark about an alternate source of energy.

Behind the machinations of the society's religious and political leaders is a conspiracy to mine the forbidden anti-matter from Zeta Minor, and once the Doctor realises that he at least partly responsible for this state of affairs, throws himself into a desperate struggle to resolve the crisis.

Nyssa is particularly affected by the crisis, and as the book draws near to a close it seems unlikely that she will be cured of the anti-matter infection. Nyssa seems to get a particularly raw deal in the novels - she has been a vampire, a mummy, and now an anti-matter mutant!

Messingham's novel contains many neat ideas - one memorable part features characters essentially watching a ‘recording’ of Planet of Evil - but unfortunately the prose is rather densely written with many characters and plot strands to keep track of. The many document excerpts scattered throughout the text are a nice stylistic touch but unfortunately mainly serve to confuse matters even further. A book best read without distractions or interruptions! [3/5]

This item appeared in TSV 55 (October 1998).

Index nodes: Zeta Major