Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Legacy by: Gary Russell: Déjà vu at Its Finest

So I hope that you, dear reader, have been brushing up on your Doctor Who Lore.  Why? Because when writing Legacy, Gary Russell does the awful habit of shoving references to and pulling continuities from every single Doctor Who story.  Not only that there is foreshadowing to the future of the range as there are mentions of the mysterious Braxiatel Collection.  Oh Gary Russell you obviously did not understand the point of the Virgin New Adventures as stories with too big of a scope to be told on television.  Too large of a scope does not mean you shove in every single story in existence as that is extremely off putting even today where you can see nearly any Doctor Who stories with the press of a button.  Imagine what it might have been like when the novel was originally released when VHS releases were literally just starting out and you only had a handful of stories to choose from to watch.  Now ignoring the extreme amounts of continuity which frankly bog down the novel what exactly is the story of Legacy.


Well the story isn’t Russell’s strong suit as it is basically another rewrite of The Curse of Peladon with the Third Doctor being switched for the Seventh Doctor, Jo switched to Benny, King Peladon switched for King Tarrol, an Ice Warrior, an Ice Lord, the same old Alpha Centauri, no Aggedor and basically writing Ace out of the narrative for the entire plot of the story.  So yeah the story itself isn’t very strong, so that’s two major points against the novel in terms of quality.  Now that said the characters Russell does write are a bit more interesting than the ones in The Curse of Peladon as he can get into their heads in writing unlike a visual medium.  Of the main three, Ace is the weakest as she has become even more insufferable since the end of Tragedy Day, so she is shipped off for most of the story but whenever she shows up quality takes a turn downwards as you can’t stand her.  The Doctor is also written a bit off.  He’s got some great stuff throughout the novel but there are these little moments, like when he is captured and is literally working out the story thus far on a chessboard, that turn him into a caricature of what he should be.  I still love some of the stuff that Russell does with him especially when he explains his regeneration to Alpha Centauri who doesn’t question it at all because it’s Alpha Centauri.


Now the highlight of the main cast is the characterization of Benny who gets a lot of the focus through the novel.  With every scene she’s in Benny continues to win me over.  Ancient Martian society is her specialty so she doesn’t judge the Ice Warriors on first appearance like the Doctor does.  She knows exactly how to hold her alcohol and knows exactly how to play drunk to get what she and the Doctor need (which is one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever read).  She is an incredible actor and actually feels manipulated by the Doctor for once.  Now the supporting characters that are ripped straight out of The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon are average with the exceptions of the Ice Lord Savaar and Alpha Centauri.  Savaar goes out of his way to be cordial to the Doctor who is as racist as always when it comes to the Ice Warriors.  He ends up enjoying a kiss with Benny and takes her with him to some ruins on Mars she wants to see.  Alpha Centauri is as hilarious as ever even if his appearance here is toned down from the hermaphrodite hexapod in a yellow cape seen on television.


Even with the problems I’ve previously mentioned the novel is good enough to be an above average novel, but Russell of course ruins those chances with his pacing.  It is all over the place as there are about ten chapters with three interludes and they all go on for way too long.  While the interludes eventually tie into the whole murder mystery plot that is going on it takes way too long to get through them.  Russell also leaves Ace with the race of rat aliens known as Pakhars which are great, but the plot with them is just as dull as the interludes.


To summarize, Legacy isn’t a very good example of a legacy.  While yes it makes reference to almost every single Doctor Who story ever, that just creates one more problem on the heavy pile of problems that plague this story.  The characters are a bit boring with a few notable exceptions and the plot is an honest rehash of The Curse of Peladon with the names switched out making for an average read.  50/100

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