THIS STORY TAKES
NOVEL "AUTONOMY" AND
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
(ISBN 1-846-07761-6) RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER
When the TARDIS
the Doctor finds the
city deserted. He
soon discovers its
population are living
in a state of terror,
afraid to leave their
homes after dark, for
fear of meeting their
doom at the hands of
the legendary Devil’s
After a terrifying
encounter with a
the Doctor realises
the city has A good
reason to be scared...
Comic book writer Christopher Cooper’s first contribution to the range is a markedly unusual tale. As it is boldly entitled The Krillitane Storm, like most would-be readers I had assumed that this novel would see the return of the winged monstrosities
from School Reunion in a similarly antagonistic role. However, much to my surprise the (nine hundred years pre-School Reunion) Krillitanes of this story are as much victims as
the 12th century humans that they are forced to prey upon by their subjugator.
This remarkable premise allows Cooper to look at the Krillitanes’ culture in a level of detail
that would not have been possible in a forty-five minute televised episode. For instance,
the Krillitane oil; its unique properties; and in particular the effect that it has on the species
is explored to fascinating effect. The idea that a Krillitane has to “drain itself” of this toxic oil on a daily basis is a truly unsettling one, especially when considered hand in hand with the exceptional evolutionary gifts that this otherwise malignant substance offers them.
More than that though, The Krillitane Storm presents several clearly identifiable Krillitane characters which really help the reader to understand the creatures in a way that School Reunion couldn’t. On television, unless they were disguised in human form – in which case, thanks to those such as Anthony Head and Eugene Washington, I concede that they were marvellously portrayed – the Krillitane were just anonymous monsters. In this book though, through characters such as Toch’Lu (cruelly dubbed “Toeclaw” by her captors) we become privy to the thoughts and concerns of a Krillitane, and they are not quite as iniquitous as we might have expected on the back of School Reunion.
That’s not to say though that the Krillitanes are portrayed as being in any way weaker than they
have been previously; on occasion, the “Devil’s Huntsmen” of this book are every bit as fierce and pitiless of those that we encountered on television,
if not more so. I was particularly impressed with the author’s decision to present the creatures as being slightly more demonic in appearance here; they even come equipped with a fork-like tail, complementing both the setting and tone of the story superbly whilst at the same time highlighting the species’ distinctive capacity to evolve and assimilate, cutting right to the heart of the plot.
Unfortunately though, the principal villain of the piece pales in comparison. Henk is a fairly safe and predictable piece of characterisation, little more than a science-fiction spin on the archetypical slave trader who has bitten off more than he can chew. Fair dues, it’s a lot of
fun to read about the Doctor berating him and to see Emily finally slap the cuffs on him, and his “I couldn’t give a Pescaton’s scaly fin” line really had me smiling. Beyond that though, the character struggled to hold my interest.
Much in the same way, the vast majority of the supporting characters failed to leave much
of an impression on me (beyond their often quite evocative names, that is). Even the story’s guest companion, Emily, is hard to engage with, and she certainly lacks the ‘special’ appeal that I think these one-off companions really need to have – after all, they are meant to be the literary equivalents of Astrid Peth and Lady Christina de Souza.
By and large then, there is a lot within the pages of The Krillitane Storm that appealed
to me; just not enough to muster my complete enthusiasm. All the same, had Cooper’s supporting humanoid characters been even half as engaging as his Krillitanes, then this summing-up would have read very differently indeed.
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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