Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Doctor Doctor: Christopher Bulis' PALACE OF THE RED SUN

Blogger's Note: This review may need revision later on because there might be a bit of a rubber band effect going on here. That's because this is my second attempt at a Sixth Doctor novel for this series after spending almost two months bogged down in another one that I'm not even going to name here but you can follow this link to see what it was if you really want to know. I finally got so annoyed with it that I filed it under Did Not Finish and that's all I'm going to say about that.

On to this delightful little romp, which I thoroughly enjoyed even though it's a Sixth Doctor and Peri story. And yes, that means it may have even rehabilitated that character a bit for me. It helps not to have poor Nicola Bryant's actual voice actually straining after that bad American accent, I think. And also, they're not bickering quite so much. But mostly, Peri actually gets stuff done, displaying resourceful adaptability and really not whining much at all. Very refreshing!

But so, she and Sixie land on a planet or planetoid that appears at first to be just one giant immaculate English garden, zealously maintained by a staff of robots for some unknown masters. Our duo is soon separated (though perhaps not soon enough. This not, for once, a complaint about bickering, though; things just get off to a very slow start generally) and the fun begins. Peri meets some locals and looks to share their plight as despised and oppressed scavengers (who are enslaved and worked to death by the robots if caught), while the Doctor meets up with a robot gardener who has managed to develop sentience -- and to realize that there are sinister secrets at the heart of this pleasure planet.

The exposure of these secrets and their larger relevance to a framing plot that involves a galactic dictator hunting the escaped leaders of his latest conquered planet and the sleazy journalist who documents his career proceed apace, revealing some satisfying timey-wimeyness in the process. The result is a pleasant, clever read with the bonus of maybe rehabilitating a hated companion a bit.

I shall look forward to more of Mr. Bulis' Doctor Who fiction in future, and update my Arbitrary and Capricious rankings when I'm not on vacation.

Until then, see you in Time. As such.

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