THE TAINT by Michael Collier

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Awful. Awful, awful, awful.

We were among the few people who saw some redeeming features in The Longest Day, but The Taint is worse. It's supposedly set in 1963, but there's virtually nothing about it that gives it any sense of time except for some horribly obvious musings by Sam about how there's no Burger King yet.

Most of the action, such as it is, takes place in a stately home (yawn) with an evil scientist (sleepy, so sleepy...) who's convinced he's actually doing good (zzzz....), and, of course, some Bad Alien Things. There's blood, there are deaths, there are people smiling evilly. Wake us up when it's over.

The Taint's got quite a small cast of characters, but even with the extra room this gives the author to flesh them out, they're bad. The best of the bunch are the Doctor and Sam, who could best be described as adequate. This is our first introduction to new companion Fitz, and God, what a hash he makes of it. Fitz never convinces, but still manages to come across as a total jerk. The most obvious way to show his humanity is in his relationship with his mother, but even this is undercharacterised and inconsistent.

The two major secondary characters are Dr Roley and Maria Bulwell. Roley should be interesting because of his belief that he's doing good, but he's cardboardy. The author relies on tics such as his irritating "Crikey Moses" as a substitute for characterisation. As for Bulwell, well, she's fat, ugly and middle-aged, so naturally she's beyond contempt.

The other bunch, despite being described on the cover as "six very different people", are hard to tell apart. And Tarr and Azoth remind us strangely of Crowley and Aziraphale from Good Omens, which is their only interesting point.

A mess.

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