VANDERDEKEN'S CHILDREN by Christopher Bulis

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Dull, dull, dull.

We're not sure just why Vanderdeken's Children is as uninvolving as it is. It's competently if uninspiringly written, and the plot, which without giving too much away involves a derelict alien ship, has the seeds of interest in it. Sam is Sam and the Doctor's pretty much the Doctor. But somehow, it just never gets interesting, probably because it's full of concepts we've seen far too often and characters who never transcend their stereotypes. The fanatical military type, the adorable child in danger, the red-shirt technician planning his future... yawn...zzz...

It's a shame, because it could have been better. The derelict spaceship could have been a fantastically atmospheric setting, and the paradox at the heart, such as it is, of the novel is quite ingenious. If only we could bring ourselves to care. Vanderdeken's Children is an object lesson in the inadequacy of ideas without well-drawn characters, setting and plot escalation to back them up.

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