STORY PLACEMENT

 THIS STORY TAKES

 PLACE BETWEEN THE

 NOVELS "THE SCARLET

 EMPRESS" AND

 "BELTEMPEST."

 

 WRITTEN BY

 TREVOR BAXENDALE

 

 RECOMMENDED 

 PURCHASE

 OFFICIAL BBC 'EIGHTH

 DOCTOR' PAPERBACK 

 (ISBN 0-563-40599-6)

 RELEASED IN OCTOBER

 1998.

 

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

 BLURB

 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

 former inhabitants.

 

 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

 violence escalates

 around them, will

 the time-travellers

 survive to discover

 the answers?

 

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The Janus

Conjunction

OCTOBER 1998

 

 

                                                       

 

   

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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