19 June 2017: The Eaters of Light review added.
11 June 2017: Empress Of Mars review added.
6 June 2017: Extremis/Pyramid At The End Of The World/Lie Of The Land review added.
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TRADING FUTURES by Lance Parkin
Lance Parkin's work for the EDA line seems to be coming out with a lighter and lighter touch. The Infinity Doctors was all doomy and end-of-the-universe, while Father Time while still thoughtful wasn't quite so laden with Portentious Significance. And Trading Futures is so slight you could knock it over with a light breeze.
Not that that's a criticism. God knows they don't all have to be terribly meaningful. But we thought you ought to know.
If you're one of those that think the Doctor Who universe should be taken utterly seriously, you probably won't like Trading Futures. It's very, very pisstaky, in a distinctly Bondian sort of way.
This gives the book some genuinely hilarious moments. We love the Fitz subplot about the space rhinos, which winks at the reader in a very obvious but highly enjoyable way, but Parkin also pokes fun at time travel stories in general, the spy genre and you name it. The McGuffin around which the plot is built is also revealed to be a bit of a joke, although it would have been nice if its real nature hadn't been quite so obvious right from the beginning.
As you'd expect from a spy/political thriller spoof, there's a great deal of running around and various factions at war. This we found less entertaining: there was too much movement without significant action and it was difficult telling some of the characters apart. The neo-future world Parkin draws is also pretty thin: he throws in some stuff which doesn't take much imagination to extrapolate from today, especially as others have done it before him, and skates past the rest.
There are some careless continuity problems and an irritating lack of editing which leaves several of the characters including the Doctor speaking in a Northern idiom (I've not, we're sat). Fitz and Anji are excellent, but the Doctor is underused and inconsistent. And we were annoyed all the way through by the stupid name Malady.
Overall, though, while it's got its faults it's an amusing and entertaining read. As Father Dougal would say, sure, it's not meant to be taken seriously. It's not about head-turning originality or deep portent, but as sheer fun it's a spanking success.