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Imperial Moon

By Christopher Bulis

Book review by Jamas Enright

My favourite Doctor is the Fifth so I always look forward to his stories. Imperial Moon involves a rocket fleet from Victorian England, the moon and a strange park in a crater on the dark side. It contains improbable devices, vicious aliens and beautiful women. It features the Fifth Doctor, Turlough and Kamelion.

It is also staggeringly, mind-numbingly dull.

Whether it's the turgid prose, the uninteresting characters, or the wildly improbable plot devices, Imperial Moon fails to excite in a manner unseen since the Fifth Doctor Audio The Land of the Dead. Many passages of text pass where people are travelling from one place to another with nothing happening. This is reminiscent of other boring novels The Ultimate Treasure, also by Bulis, and The Crystal Bucephalus, by Craig Hinton. I was having a hard time trying to remember which boring novel I was reading.

The characters are flat and stereotypical with the Hero Captain, the Scientist and his Daughter, and a host of extras that Bulis tries to make us care about and yet fails. Turlough is completely out of character, Kamelion appears mainly as a Deus Ex Machina, and the Fifth Doctor is a basic version of himself — although I accept the Doctor's actions at the end, because it follows Resurrection of the Daleks.

The aliens, named Vrall, are the most vicious killers in the universe (aren't they all?), and I guessed their secret long before it was revealed. Then again, I guessed all the important secrets before they came up. I don't know if that was just me, but I'm going to blame Bulis's predictability here. Even Turlough can guess what will happen.

The worst plot point Bulis uses, and one which symbolises all the plot contrivances, is the fact that the Doctor gets given a diary by his future self (this isn't a spoiler as we find this out in the first chapter) which leads him to embroil himself and Turlough in the story. It also explains many other plot conveniences as one can find out what's going to happen and act accordingly. When characters are given the script to get the story moving, it's a sign of trouble.

Are there any redeeming features? The pilot Stanton undergoes an interesting transformation. The interaction of Haliwell and Emily in the city is entertaining. And the warden is about the one character in the entire book I cared about. But, on the whole, Imperial Moon is just plain boring dull. You'd be better off listening to The Land of the Dead again, at least you know that's going to stop after 100 minutes. [1/5]

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).

Index nodes: Imperial Moon