December 30th, 2005


"Oh, whoops, they shot the Duchess." [p.68]

69. Russell, Gary. Placebo Effect [EDA#13]

"It is 3999." (For no apparent reason; there's no pre-millennial stuff going on or anything). How many conspiracies can there possibly be beneath the peaceful Intergalactic Olympic Games on Micawber's World? Lots, inevitably, particularly since both the Foamasi and the Wirrrn are involved.

Conspiracy, double-cross, a pair of "lost companions" (as I'm sure Virgin would have titled them) and a minor love-interest for Sam; what more could you want in the far-flung future of the Terran Hegemony? Good and pacy; this one might even make a plausible (8 episode?) TV story.

"This is it, Sam. We're entering the core of the probability nexus." [p.262]

70. Bulis, Christopher. Vanderdeken's Children [EDA#14]

The clue is in the name. This book has one of those plot structures that looks pretty from the outside, but is rather confused on the inside. A huge derelict spaceship with apparently some strange control over hyperspace and time-travel is at the core of a war between two neighbouring powers (isn't that always the way?).

The Doctor and Sam thread their way through this, but for once don't save the day; after all it's not possible to detangle the loops to save the day. The book ends on an unusually downbeat note, but that makes it a good book rather than a mediocre one I think.

"…a London Transport Marie Celeste." [p.19]

71. Magrs, Paul. The Scarlet Empress [EDA#15]

Not content with writing the longest EDA so far (possibly the longest of them all if you don't count Interference), Mr Magrs (the g is silent, by the way) has to write one of the silliest (he doesn't stop here with that tendency). He also introduces a new non-antagonistic Time Lord, or should I say Lady, Iris Wildthyme. Iris is a kind of analogue of the Doctor, except that her TARDIS (a number 22 bus to Putney Green) is just slightly smaller on the inside than out.

Hyspero, on the other hand, is your stereotypical fantasy setting lead by someone whom at best can be described as "morally neutral". Well, stereotypical in the sense of "very bright colours" and "owing more to parody than litcrit". Inevitably the gang have to reunite an adventuring group scattered to the four winds; fight their way to the stronghold of the Scarlet Empress; and rid the realm of her tyrannical hand. Or something.

Fun, but a bit of a drag in a couple of places, and not for those who dislike "silly".
dark & stormy

"…I've seen the future… And we don't go." [p.283]

72. Baxendale, Trevor. The Janus Conjunction [EDA#16]

You might have gathered by now that I'm not particularly fond of Baxendale's writing. Nor, it appears, is anyone else. This is one of the least-worst of them though. A bunch of soldiers, imprisoned on a planet that they were scouting because if they leave it they decompose instantly, decide, for no reason other than that they're dying of radiation sickness and they're understandably pissed off, that they want to destroy the peaceful colony that they started out on.

I suspect you can probably write most of the rest of the plot yourself; there is some more to it, but it's mainly there to explain the doomsday weapons and, indeed, how everything ended up like it is in the first place.

Punctuate, punctuate, punctuate!

73. Truss, Lynn. Eats, Shoots & Leaves

I actually read this nearer the beginning of the year, and it now sits on my desk as a reference guide for confused questions. It is a combination historical and didactical work on Punctuation which rarely restrains itself from arguing why you should use punctuation as well as when. In short it's fun as well as interesting.