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Legacy of the Daleks

Sometimes, I think Doctor Who fans lose all sense of perspective. They get so hung up about the excellence of the great stories, that anything without that highbrow scientific moral leaning that they've come to expect is immediately pigeonholed as a steaming pile of cack.

As such, I find myself thinking that this is the reason they don't like Legacy of the Daleks. It's about as formulaic and fanwank infested as they get, and yet it still retains a reasonably entertaining read. A guilty pleasure, if you like.

The setting itself is the best thing about Legacy. Being a big fan of the Fallout games, I'm particularly interested in depictions of post apocalyptic societies, and how they struggle to rebuild. It's 30 years after the Dalek Invasion, and humanity is just about pulling itself out of the rubble. London's seeing some major redevelopment and has become a society making use of both advanced and primitive weapons.

Naturally, the fight for resources and power means that humans are at each others' throats again (will we ever learn?) Lord Haldoran seeks to invade domain London to add it to his 'kingdom', hoping that a unique cache of leftover Dalek guns will give him the edge of his rival, Lord London. Little does he know that the Dalek guns are really brought from offworld by The Master, who is pretending to be his aide.

There's no Sam in this novel, she's lost in the universe somewhere, but Susan (the Doctor's granddaughter) and her husband David, and Donna (a knight of domain London) prove to be more than adequate substitutes.

There is a significant amount of back story for those three characters, dealing with Susan and David's relationship issues (her not aging with him because she's a Time Lord) and Donna's complicated marital and social life (black sheep of the family, unable to bear children in a world where women are expected to help repopulate, beaten by her ex-husband.) Due to certain plot revelations, the characters develop based on these emotional scars, and they all seem pretty believable.

The main problems I have with Legacy are; the Doctor isn't very well characterised, in fact he could be any of the previous Doctors and he'd still fit right in; The plot drew me in, until the Master appeared, people started to die in huge numbers, and characters were killed off because John Peel didn't know what else to do with them.

Susan does something completely out of character near the end of the novel; although there's a possibility she's changed in her 30 years on Earth between The Dalek Invasion of Earth and Legacy of the Daleks.

Speaking of change, this is one book that would never have worked on telly. Susan isn't supposed to have aged, while she clearly has in real life, while the Master is the Delgado version, and he's no longer with us. So a book's probably the best format for this story, and I feel it's one worth telling.

There's a fair amount to recommend Legacy if you're not especially picky and don't mind some fairly extreme fanwank, but to be honest, I'd rather just go make a DIoE Fallout mod.

Now there's an idea for a mod for Fallout 3 (when it finally arrives.)


Review by Tom Hey

You visited the Whoniverse at 2:48 am BST on Monday 15th May 2006