AUTUMN MIST by David McIntee

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All in all, not by any means as bad as it could have been.

We weren't looking forward to Autumn Mist. World War II is well worn ground, and we thought The War Games said all Who needed to say about military experiments. But it turned out to be a lot more readable than we expected. Although it wouldn't win any prizes for Alien Bodies-style startling innovation, it's a well-told story, and in this range we think that counts for a lot. And at its best, it's very good indeed: the massacre in which Sam is involved is incredibly powerful.

However, it's also got quite a few drawbacks. The Sidhe never seem very real or very interesting, especially when compared to the terrifyingly real violence going on on the ground. None of the major characters play much of an active part, instead being pushed hither and yon by events, and the secondary cast don't seem to have any other function than to die nastily. The author is boringly obsessed with naming bits of military equipment, at the expense of some glaring linguistic errors (like having an American refer to "a thick ear"). And let's face it, however the author tries to redress it, the concept's already been done and didn't need to be repeated.

But the absolutely worst part about Autumn Mist is the way the author handles Sam's decision to leave. We can only assume that it happened like this: he was on his way to the post box with the manuscript when he got a call on his mobile from Steve Cole telling him that they'd decided to drop Sam and could he write her out? He must have sworn a few times, unstuck the envelope and fished out the manuscript, scribbled a few extra words and sealed it back up again. That's about the psychological depth of it. We know Sam annoys a lot of readers, but we like her, and she's gone through a hell of a lot with the Doctor. We think she deserved a lot better than this.

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