THIS STORY TAKES
NOVEL "THE SLITHEEN
EXCURSION" AND THE
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN APRIL
Elvis the King Space
port has grown into
the sprawling city-
state of New Memphis
- an urban jungle,
crime is rife. But the
launch of the new
Terminal 13 hasn't
been as smooth as
expected. And things
are about to get
When the Doctor
arrives, he finds
the whole terminal
locked down. The
Assassin is at work
again, and the Judoon
sent to catch him
will stop at nothing
to complete their
As a prospect, Judgement of the Judoon was probably the least exciting of the April 2009 BBC Books; at least, that’s the way I saw it. But to my surprise, Colin Brake’s
tale of gangsters, cops and private eyes set in the far future is almost certainly the pick of
“ ‘Ra, Ho, Bo, No, Ho-So, Ro’ he intoned, each clipped syllable emerging like a bullet
from a rapid-firing machine gun. ”
The principal reason for this is that Brake portrays the Judoon in the most remarkable manner. To begin with, as illustrated above, Brake’s prose deftly captures the Judoon exactly as they have been seen on television. The early chapters of the novel especially
really get across what an interesting shade of grey the rhinocerotic police stormtroopers
are – the prologue shows us the death and the destruction wrought by their lumbering methods, whilst their arrival in New Memphis and the Judoon Commander’s early dealings with the Doctor show just how seriously they take their duties and just what respect they
have for justice.
However, Judgement of the Judoon takes things a step further than previous stories as it pairs the Doctor with Judoon Commander Rok Ma for the bulk of the narrative, this device allowing the author to tackle the Doctor’s (and indeed readers’) prejudice head-on. Nikki, a teenage private eye, also serves as a temporary companion, but it is Rok Ma that is by the Doctor’s side all the way through and Rok Ma that we really take to. We learn that he has a sense of humour equal to his sense of justice, and also that beneath that thick skin of his there is actually a sympathetic soul.
For her part, Nikki is a very appealing young character and one that I also warmed to right away. Whilst much of her thread of the plot borders on cliché, it has a real charm to it that really adds to the book’s distinctive ‘1930s in space’ feel.
The story itself is enthralling enough, but it’s more a vehicle for the characters than the other way around. There are not many fireworks, and anyone even approaching the upper age limit of the book’s target audience will spot each of the twists coming a mile off, but even
so Judgement of the Judoon is beautifully written and capable of holding even the most
cynical adult reader’s interest. I loved the thinly-veiled metaphor concerning Elvis the King Spaceport’s Terminal 13 launch disaster, for instance, and the rest of the book is similarly sated with such wit and poise.
On a final note, Judgement of the Judoon is replete with some lovely little flourishes that really make it stand out from the crowd. The portentous closing passages are very alluring, for instance. After reading these, I cannot wait for Planet of the Dead and the rest of this year’s specials…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
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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