(ISBN 0-426-20384-4)







 It’s the ultimate mass

 transit system; a net-

 work of interstitial

 tunnels that bind the

 planets of the solar

 system together. 


 But something is

 living in the network,

 chewing its way to

 the very heart of the

 system and leaving a

 trail of death and

 mutation behind it.


 Once again THE Doctor

 is dragged into human



 AND Once again HE

 is all that stands

 between humanity

 and its mistakes.


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Transit really surprised me. While I didn’t bat any eyelid at its grisly descriptions of poverty and prostitution, I found it absolutely astonishing that the same writer that penned Remembrance of the Daleks – one of the best Doctor Who serials ever produced – could produce something utterly incapable of engaging my attention.


As much as anything, this novel is a victim of its own intent. Ben Aaronovitch has written the book in a niche, cyberpunk style that I’m sure a number of readers will absolutely love, but that some - like myself - will really struggle with. Transit is written with its own, entrenched sense of reality – this cyberpunk future exists and the author can see it in every aspect of it

in minute detail. Indeed, so vivid is the author’s vision that Transit has to carry an appendix just so that the reader can understand the overabundance of future terminology (razvedka crews, money pens, cake monsters etc). You really have to take your hat off to Aaronovitch for his meticulous vision, but for me the constant bombardment of futuristic terminology left me feeling isolated. When I last read this novel I was living and working in France, and the last thing that I wanted to be presented with when I arrived home at night was yet another foreign language! Moreover, long chapters (and I mean long) make the book unmanageable – a chapter or two before bed turns into a three-hour reading marathon into the early hours.



However, as with Love

and War, I was incredibly

impressed with how the

author seamlessly wove

his story into the future

history of the Whoniverse. Fleeting references to the Martian Ice Warriors and a small segment set in the Doctor’s house seemed to flow naturally from the narrative, and didn’t feel too gratuitous as these things sometimes can.


The plot itself is a staggeringly ambitious, painting mesmerising pictures in the mind’s eye. Aaronovitch really excels himself with elaborate and frankly magnificent descriptions of the mass transit system that binds the solar system together, but with no Ace, and with Bernice reduced to a mindless zombie for much of the adventure, there is no anchor for the reader.

In fact, with a pensive and unpredictable Doctor (even for him - he gets pissed at one point) and a possessed companion, I found it hard to identify with any of the characters.


However, though Bernice is possessed for much of the adventure (hardly the most sensible of ideas, in my view, considering that this is her first ‘proper’ story as a companion), prior to her possession Aaronovitch does write for the character every bit as interestingly as Paul Cornell did, if not more so. It’s especially interesting to see how she looks after herself when she’s trapped and alone in the seedy Stop.


Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart is another brilliant piece of characterisation, and unlike Benny is explored quite deeply here. I love how Aaronovitch holds off the reveal about her lineage for a long time (almost half the book), establishing her as an intriguing character in her own right before saddling her with one of the most significant legacies in Doctor Who. Her invention of a primitive time travel device was also an interesting development, and I’m keen to see how the semi-cliffhanger ending to the novel will ultimately play out.


Love it or hate it, Transit is one of those novels that’s always going to be talked about. And though I can see that it is stunning, imaginative, and even brilliant in its way, I’m afraid that it just isn’t my cup of tea. A good New Adventure I can tear through in a few days; a week at worst. The fact that Transit, on the other hand, took me about six weeks to plough through is probably the most telling testimonial that I could give.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


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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