(ISBN 1-846-07639-8)







 Elvis the King Space

 port has grown into

 the sprawling city-

 state of New Memphis

 - an urban jungle,

 where organiSed

 crime is rife. But the

 launch of the new

 Terminal 13 hasn't

 been as smooth as

 expected. And things

 are about to get



 When the Doctor

 arrives, he finds

 the whole terminal

 locked down. The

 notorious Invisible

 Assassin is at work

 again, and the Judoon

 sent to catch him

 will stop at nothing

 to complete their



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APRIL 2009






As a prospect, Judgement of the Judoon was probably the least exciting of the  April 2009 BBC Books; at least, that’s the way I saw it. But to my surprise, Colin Brake’s

tale of gangsters, cops and private eyes set in the far future is almost certainly the pick of

the bunch.


   “ ‘Ra, Ho, Bo, No, Ho-So, Ro’ he intoned, each clipped syllable emerging like a bullet

     from a rapid-firing machine gun. ”


The principal reason for this is that Brake portrays the Judoon in the most remarkable manner. To begin with, as illustrated above, Brake’s prose deftly captures the Judoon exactly as they have been seen on television. The early chapters of the novel especially

really get across what an interesting shade of grey the rhinocerotic police stormtroopers

are – the prologue shows us the death and the destruction wrought by their lumbering methods, whilst their arrival in New Memphis and the Judoon Commander’s early dealings with the Doctor show just how seriously they take their duties and just what respect they

have for justice.


However, Judgement of the Judoon takes things a step further than previous stories as it pairs the Doctor with Judoon Commander Rok Ma for the bulk of the narrative, this device allowing the author to tackle the Doctor’s (and indeed readers’) prejudice head-on. Nikki, a teenage private eye, also serves as a temporary companion, but it is Rok Ma that is by the Doctor’s side all the way through and Rok Ma that we really take to. We learn that he has a sense of humour equal to his sense of justice, and also that beneath that thick skin of his there is actually a sympathetic soul.


For her part, Nikki is a very appealing young character and one that I also warmed to right away. Whilst much of her thread of the plot borders on cliché, it has a real charm to it that really adds to the book’s distinctive ‘1930s in space’ feel.


The story itself is enthralling enough, but it’s more a vehicle for the characters than the other way around. There are not many fireworks, and anyone even approaching the upper age limit of the book’s target audience will spot each of the twists coming a mile off, but even

so Judgement of the Judoon is beautifully written and capable of holding even the most

cynical adult reader’s interest. I loved the thinly-veiled metaphor concerning Elvis the King Spaceport’s Terminal 13 launch disaster, for instance, and the rest of the book is similarly sated with such wit and poise.


On a final note, Judgement of the Judoon is replete with some lovely little flourishes that really make it stand out from the crowd. The portentous closing passages are very alluring, for instance. After reading these, I cannot wait for Planet of the Dead and the rest of this year’s specials…


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009


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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