THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "THE SCARLET
OFFICIAL BBC 'EIGHTH
RELEASED IN OCTOBER
When the Doctor and
Sam arrive on Janus
Prime, they BECOME
EMBROILED IN a war
between rival humans
colonising the area.
The planet is littered
with ancient ruins,
and the Mendans are
using a mysterious
hyperspatial link left
behind by the planetís
But what is its true
purpose? How can
Janus Primeís moon
weigh billions of tons
more than it should?
AND Why is the planet
riddled with deadly
radiation? As the
around them, will
survive to discover
At the time of its release, The Janus Conjunction was a real divider of opinion.
Itís many critics picked holes in author Trevor Baxendaleís scientific inaccuracies (though no-one picked up on the one about the time-travelling, dimensionally-transcendental police telephone box and its bicardial pilot) and its patent lack of freshness, whilst its passionate defenders lauded the authorís gallant use of colossal, cosmic imagery and unsettling, tiny horrors. In my view though, this one isnít anything to get even the slightest bit excited about either way.
Those familiar with Baxendaleís many Doctor Who works will be able to attest to the manís outlandishly grisly, gruesome style, and The Janus Conjunction is a prime example of this. This novel features lurid terrors ranging from the personal to the profound, all of which are expertly evoked through the authorís almost callous, no-nonsense prose. From a massacre of babies to the nihilistic nightmare of the Janus super bomb, there is guaranteed to be at least one peculiar horror here that would get under your skin if you were to pick this one up.
However, save for in its most explicit moments, The Janus Conjunction did a remarkably shoddy job of holding my attention. Whilst the Doctor and Sam are each well portrayed, I found Baxendaleís cast of supporting characters to be completely unremarkable. Zemler was a particular disappointment, always threatening to step outside his cipherís skin but never quite managing it.
Furthermore, the plot unfurls at a
leisurely pace that feels entirely
at odds with the level of threat
that Baxendale is trying to build
up. This does at least result in an
exceptionally tense and fraught
finale though, particularly for the
balding Sam who is forced to
look oblivion square in the eye. Her thoughts on her impending death are enthralling to read about; I especially love how, in what she believes to be her final moments, she succumbs to uncharacteristic bitterness and spite. It may not be romantic, but it smacks of truth.
And so whilst The Janus Conjunction does have its rewards for those able to endure its two-hundred and eighty odd pages without tapping out, itís not a book that stands up well today, particularly now that weíve been utterly spoiled by the new series and a decade of
Big Finish. I get the feeling that Baxendale wanted The Janus Conjunction to be a more ambitious Caves of Androzani, but instead itís just a poor manís Colony in Space.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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