Reviews selected from TV Zone #143

Reviews online this month
(ratings are out of 10)
Doctor Who: Grimm Reality, from the BBC
Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars, part one of history
a Stargate SG-1 episode from Season Five
and LEXX episode from Season 4

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Grimm Reality Rating: 8
Written by Simon Bucher-Jones and Kelly Hale
BBC Books, ISBN: 0563538414
Out: 1 October 2001
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Reviewed by
Neil Corry

Make three wishes

Grimm Reality - order this at it's impossible not to enjoy, Grimm Reality annoys just because the title gives away so much. It's too easy to infer that the Doctor et al are doubtless about to land on a planet where the laws of fairy-tales are strictly adhered to, and the reason why the everyday rules of physics don't apply there will be the story's central mystery.

It's almost as if the authors want to spoil the readers' fun with its pun of a title. There's no second-guessing allowed or wondering what will happen next from the reader. And it also gives the game away on the back cover! By rights, it should be as dull as ditchwater and twice as grim as its title. But it never is, not for a second.

Written at a furious pace, Bucher-Jones and Hale throw everything into the witch's pot: a Cinderella subplot, the old three-wishes routine, nasty giants, vicious kings and princes and, for those who like Science Fiction with their Doctor Who, another bunch of spacefarers who are dragged along for the ride (and sometimes eaten). It doesn't matter that you know how the story will end (happily ever after, of course) because it's written so well and with so much enthusiasm and affection that it's hard not to be swept up by it.

There are a couple of problems, however. With the Doctor's amnesia beginning to crack open at the edges, it's surprising to see him dive into this fairy-tale world completely gung-ho and trying to fit in. Likewise, Fitz becomes that brave adventurer he always claimed to be but never is and smart alec Anji's too easily duped by a witch early in the tale. Worse is that the tale is thematically similar to Dark Progeny and comes too soon after Steve Emmerson's novel.

To be fair, Grimm Reality is the other side of the Sci-Fi coin. Dark Progeny might have played with the Gaia myth in a hard Science Fiction setting - well, as hard as Doctor Who Sci-Fi gets - this latest novel is as fluffy as pink dice but a hell of a lot more fun.

More Doctor Who material reviewed in this issue: David Darlington on John de Burgh Miller's Dying in the Sun novel, Tom Spilsbury on 'Four to Doomsday' Video, the Project Twilight CD adventure, the Vengeance on Varos DVD and The Davros Collection Video Box Set

Star Trek novel
The Eugenics Wars: Volume 1 Rating: 8
Written by Greg Cox
ISBN: 0671021273
Out Now! Reviewed by
Megan O'Neill
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Khaaaaaaaaaaaaan! His story

The Eugenics Wars - order this at the end of the TOS episode Assignment: Earth, Spock wryly tells Kirk that agents Gary Seven, Roberta Lincoln, and Isis were instrumental in defeating the genetic supermen led by Khan Noonien Singh during the Eugenics Wars. Amazingly, nobody has written this important part of Trek chronology until now, when thankfully Greg Cox got the assignment.

Volume I of this two-volume set chronicles the exploits of the young Sikh as he grows from a precocious four year old into the angry 20 year old messiah determined to rule a world. Although there are several counterpoint stories threading through this narrative, the focus is the gratifyingly complex Khan, whom Cox invests with a conflicting determination to protect 'his people' by killing anyone standing in his way to power. Gary Seven's attempts to redirect Khan taste like frustrated father with wayward son, perhaps explaining why Khan does not kill Seven when he has the chance, settling instead for stranding him behind the Iron Curtain just when the Berlin Wall is coming down. From here, we assume, Volume II will pick up.

Although Cox's Q Continuum series left me unimpressed, his handling of Seven and Roberta in TOS Assignment: Eternity predicts a good Volume II for Khan. How will Khan round up his superman siblings and take over the planet? It's a good bet that he'll hold an environmental weapon over the heads of Earth's leaders. In Cox's hands, it should be fun to read. We'll have to wait until spring to find out.

selected from TV Zone #143
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction
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