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FRONTIER WORLDS by Peter Anghelides
Yes! After the bore that was Kursaal, the author redeems himself.
Frontier Worlds is a dead trad Who tale, told very well. It says something about the EDA line when while you're reading a book you're incredibly grateful that it's actually entertaining, but that's how we felt.
There's a lot to like here. The sense of place is very well evoked, and characterisation is great. It's a terrific book for Fitz, whose first person narration works very well and who gets a touching and convincing romance with the almost entirely offstage Alura. Compassion, too, moves from merely unpleasant to intriguing, which is a welcome change.
The Doctor is well drawn, although we got the feeling that Fitz and Compassion could have carried the book quite nicely without him. The secondary characters are interesting, particularly the scene-stealing robot, and the sort-of villain is wisely and effectively left offstage.
There are some niggles, of course. We're really not sure why in the first part of Fitz's narration the author seems to have Frank Sinatra confused with Raymond Chandler. The combine harvester scene is both too X-Files and too unlikely, and we could've done without the rather obvious debate about genetic modification. While we have no problem with the Doctor being violent when necessary, we're not at all sure about him kicking someone in the head, and we're even less sure about his attitude towards it. And the ending is weak, lacking in both firepower and surprise.
Overall, though, we like Frontier Worlds a lot. We haven't given it the blobs attracted by the really mindbending books, but for what it does, you couldn't ask much better.