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INTERFERENCE by Lawrence Miles
Equal parts stunner and disappointment.
After Alien Bodies, we were really looking forward to Interference. And there's no doubt that it's quite an achievement. But it also lets us down in some fundamental ways too. Miles takes some concepts he introduced in Alien Bodies and expands them, but of course they don't have the same freshness as they did when we saw them for the first time.
Faction Paradox, for example. We were never big fans as it was: their avowed intention of messing up timelines just for, presumably, the hell of it doesn't really catch our attention, and here they just don't strike us as very interesting - we found their involvement in Unnatural History a lot more entertaining.
The thing we dislike the most about Interference, though, is the preachiness. Either Miles is hammering away about the UK's involvement in arms dealing to dubious regimes (duh) or he's banging on about how we're all being brainwashed by TV (even more duh). You'd have to have been in a coma for the last fifty years to find either of these themes novel or instructive, and consequently we yawned our way not only through all the sermons about weapons but also through all the bits about the Remote.
On the other hand, there's undeniably some marvellous stuff in here. Characterisation is fabulous, with Miles giving lessons on how to show the complexity of the Doctor, and Sarah Jane and Sam are great too. Sam's leaving scene is beautifully and sensitively handled, and we cried. When she was good, she was very very good, and we're going to miss her, especially since she's replaced by the robotic Compassion and her annoying "obviously" trick.
Fitz has yet another terrible time, the poor bastard, and while Miles dwells on the Doctor's pain, we think Fitz's ordeal is a thousand times worse. He has to be wondering by now whether getting on the TARDIS was quite as groovy an idea as he thought. While well done, though, we're not sure whether the Kode and Tobin thing was supposed to be a revelation (we hope not). And oh, yes, we love the Ogrons. In fact, we want one for a pet.
Miles is at his best when he gets going on brand new concepts - the stuff about Dust and I.M. Foreman is inspired writing that really brought home to us what can be achieved when the Who universe is in capable hands. And the circles of events through time are done with a satisfying perfection that for once really exploits the potential of time travel.
Overall? They're great books, but they're not Alien Bodies.