Book Review – Doctor Who: System Shock

  • Title: System Shock
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Justin Richards
  • Characters:  Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/13/2014

System Shock is an original novel in Virgin Publishing Doctor Who Missing Adventures series and it’s an enjoyable and fast read. The novel features the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith. However, they meet and work with a much older Dr. Harry Sullivan, who is Assistant Chief of Staff at MI5. Sarah and Harry are both somewhat perplexed by the meeting, but since both have time travel experience, they deal with it OK.

The plot, which takes time to reveal, includes alien invasion as one may expect – but it’s a different concept in alien invasion entirely. Rather than the typical monsters or aliens – this invasion is being organized by a computer-controlled alien corporation. Yes, that’s right – alien invaders who track their progress with Gantt charts. The method of invasion is also unique, a completely intelligent artificial life-form called, Voractyll, that literally lives on a CD. The aliens plan on using Voractyll like a computer virus to take over the Earth using the new Hubway InterNet interconnected computer network (the book was published in 1995).

This Doctor Who novel is brilliantly fun. Richards’ use of corporate language and behavior is perfect, and amusing. I also found the plot, well, awesome. For a 20-year old Cyberpunk story – it still works, pretty much. Yes, some of the technology seems dreadfully out of date (I took my last two CRT monitors to the Electronic Graveyard recycling site at the beginning of the summer – in this novel, a CRT is the height of monitor technology) the plot still works, and it doesn’t seem out of date. I also liked all the characters. I’ve always liked Harry with Sarah – and in this book he’s older, wiser, more mature, and yet, still the same old Harry.

I recommend this novel, if you can find it, for not only Doctor Who fans, but for fans of the Cyberpunk sub-genre of SF.

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