According to popular legend, the great humanitarian Stewart Ransom founded the Independent Earth Colony on Axista Four in the year 2439, but the truth is not as neat and simple as the legend would suggest...


The year is 2539. Arriving on Axista Four the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie find the colony in a state of chaos. A breakaway group of colonists - the 'Realists' - has abandoned Ransome’s Back to Basics ideals and is creating a new high-tech settlement. The 'Loyalists' who remain are dwindling in number and face total extinction.


Meanwhile, a spaceship from Earth has arrived with news that 80,000 refugees are about to descend upon the planet; the Realists are staging raids on the wreck of the colony ship, and in a secret underground bunker mysterious aliens who claim to be the planet’s first colonists are beginning to awake.


Who are the dog-like aliens who call themselves Tyrenians? What is the secret agenda of the sinister Federation Administrator Greene? And what really happened when the colony ship crash-landed on Axista Four 100 years ago?






The Colony of Lies

JULY 2003






It’s never a good sign when an author tries to justify the merits of an underrated preceding novel in his author’s note. This little trick came very close to putting me off Dave Stone’s Death and Diplomacy, and Colin Brake pulling the same stunt here damned near did the same. Fortunately though, I can sympathise more with Brake and Escape Velocity than I did Stone and Sky Pirates!


Nevertheless, The Colony of Lies is actually better than I expected it would be. Although it’s far from anything to write home about, it’s a sound enough outing for the second Doctor and, more fascinatingly, it also serves as a delightful examination of the differences between the Doctor’s second and seventh incarnations.


“I just wanted to remind you of something… We were more curious in your day, more prone to improvise and hope for the best. But sometimes you need a plan my friend, you really do. So when the time comes…”


After reading the book’s prologue, I half-expected the seventh Doctor and Ace to be used as little more than padding – a gimmicky bookend to a middling novel. However - much to the second Doctor’s disgust - the seventh Doctor actually gets involved in events, albeit indirectly. Seeing his scheming future self throwing all the laws of time out of the window is really a sobering experience for the ever-improvisational second Doctor.


“...where will it all end? I could be revising my own history for eternity…”


That said, why the seventh Doctor chooses to get involved is not fleshed out all that well by Brake; indeed, the events here certainly don’t seem momentous enough to justify such a flagrant disregard for the laws of time. Further, thanks to the seventh Doctor’s role in the proceedings, the whole adventure feels like it’s being told in flashback, effectively killing the propinquity of the drama.


What’s more, Brake’s storyline is markedly average. So soon after Heritage, another space-Western was always going to feel a little derivative, but even so the extent of ‘homage’ to be found within the pages of The Colony of Lies is really rather staggering. Though the problems stemming from the ‘Back to Basics’ philosophy of the Axista Four colonists had the potential to be reasonably interesting, simply reducing the issues to Loyalists versus Realists – or Billy Joe versus Grandpa Kartryte – is hardly spellbinding. Indeed, it’s just the Gungans and the Naboo all over again, battle droids and all.


The Colony of Lies does capture both Jamie and Zoe very well though (even if it does little of significance with either of them) and for once the episodic structure works rather well too, the six-part format being very evocative of the Patrick Troughton era. There are also few Stargate SG•1 in-jokes to snigger at for those that way inclined (“Major Cartor” indeed), and in fairness the canine Tyrenians do have a nice twist in their tails, but beyond that there’s little else to note.


All told, The Colony of Lies is not a book that I’d recommend to anyone other than the most ardent Troughton or McCoy completists. It’s certainly not a case of ‘Avoid at all costs’ though; more a matter of ‘Is it really worth six pounds of my hard-earned money?’ That’s six pints in the Student Union, see.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.



This novel’s blurb offers no guidance as to when it takes place from either Doctors’ perspective. Given the companions used and how they are portrayed, we suspect that this story is set somewhere between the television serials The Invasion and The Krotons. Within this gap, we have placed it after the novella Foreign Devils, which was released earlier. As the Doctor and Ace are portrayed much in line with how they were on television, we have arbitrarily placed this adventure amongst the seventh Doctors other BBC Books and early Big Finish audio dramas.


Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.

Doctor Who is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.