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I'm a fan of Stephen Cole's more recent books, but this is experimental stuff which shows a talent still coming together. The story brings Ben, Polly and the First Doctor to an asteroid where a bunch of human soldiers are mounting a special operation against the alien Schirr; things go wrong it it becomes clear that they have collectively fallen into a trap laid by the aliens and their collaborators. The chapters (mostly) take their titles from Agatha Christie novels, which is a bit misleading - the real reference in the title is to James Cameron's Aliens, where there are clear resonances.

The core plot is competently done, but there are a number of things that don't work. First, Cole makes Ben a racist, and then this vanishes the moment Polly reproves him for it. This is too big an issue to be dealt with so casually. Second, there is a long section where the narrative is divided up between characters, choose-your-own-adventure style. I simply didn't have the energy to play that game and just skipped to the next section. Finally, it may have just been my low energy levels, but I found ten supporting character too many to keep track of.

Having said that, Cole does a decent characterisation of the fading First Doctor and a very good Polly. But I wouldn't recommend this to non-fans.

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