THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "SLEEPY" AND
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN APRIL
who has the tact
to arbitrate talks
BETWEEN THREE EVIL,
THAT ARE at each
throats over the
peaceful planet of
WHILE THE DOCTOR IS
Benny is stranded,
lost and alone, AND
FacES the most terr-
ifying challenge of
her life - someone
who will haunt her
for the rest of her
He’s called Jason.
After reading Dave Stone’s last New Adventure, somehow I managed to describe
it as being an “excruciatingly dull and torrid affair” and also “the work of sheer, unmitigated genius.” As diametrically opposed as these two statements may seem, they do précis my views on Sky Pirates! Now Stone’s latest effort, Death and Diplomacy, is a different kettle of fish entirely - “the work of sheer, unmitigated genius” bit still stands, but you can forget about the rest. This novel is anything but tedious.
The book begins with an oft-criticised author’s note that sees Stone point out that we were all wrong not to like Sky Pirates! and that had we read it more carefully, we might just have been able to solve the riddle of his true intent! Thankfully it didn’t end with “please like my new book”, but it might as well have done. After reading that introduction I had firmly set my face against Death and Diplomacy. My mind was made up and my prejudice steadfast: I was going to do my damnedest to hate the whole chuffing thing and then rip it to shreds in a brutal and contemptuous review. But then I read the first chapter and fell head over heels in love with it. This is what it must have felt like for Benny with Jason…
The nonsensical prose that I cringed
at in Stone’s last novel here feels
like sardonic, wistful brilliance. I’m
not exaggerating when I say that
there’s been nothing like it before in
the New Adventures or the Missing
Adventures for that matter. It’s Who
through different eyes.
That said, I could at least derive some small sense of satisfaction from scoffing at some of the weaker story elements. Don’t even ask me where the author exiled Chris and Roz to; I can’t remember – that’s how compelling their thread of the adventure is. And the Doctor’s half of the story, whilst far from dreary, is slow and downright silly at times. Reading about
the young and voluptuous Ravla trying to seduce the thousand year-old Doctor made me laugh, but the rest – the ‘diplomacy’ as it were – wasn’t of any interest to me. Hollow Gods?
I couldn’t care less. This novel is about Benny and Jason.
Jason is cool. He’s like a cross between Han Solo and an adolescent from an American romcom. He has a rugged charm about him that’s quite endearing, and quite an interesting little back-story to boot. Conceptually, one of the things that I like most about this novel is that it is set in the present day… but in space. You don’t need to travel to the year 2370 to visit other worlds. Jason - a good old-fashioned 20th century boy - one day just found himself on the other side of the galaxy with nowt but a fluffy little alien for companionship. Fantastic!
And Benny, of course, we all know and love. Here she’s used fabulously by Stone in many ways - there are side-splitting scenes of her strutting naked through fields, being pursued by small creatures making strange noises; moving scenes watching her fall in love, albeit in a ‘Han Solo and the Princess’ sort of way… I could go on. What I feel works so well is the way that the author gets inside her head; I took great delight in reading about her reactions to this buffoon that she couldn’t help but fall for. And get engaged to. Oh yeah, didn’t I mention that bit?
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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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