July Books 20) The Highest Science, by Gareth Roberts
This was Gareth Roberts' first Doctor Who book (in the Virgin New Adventures series), laying the groundwork for a subsequent career that has most recently produced The Lodger (though we have a couple more Sarah Jane Smith stories by him coming out towards the end of the year). A small plot element - London commuters whisked through a wormhole in space to encounter an alien menace - was re-used in Planet of the Dead, by Gareth Roberts and RTD. Fannish opinion on this one seems a bit polarised; I thought it was OK but not brilliant, with the best bit being the introduction of the alien Chelonians, a race of militant cybernetic tortoises who crop up in other, later Who novels and who were recently name-checked on screen in The Pandorica Opens. I was less impressed by galactic war criminal Sheldukher who I felt varied between dull and nasty. Poor Benny Summerfield has a hard time of it, with her brain being partially rotted by a spiked soft drink. Various other elements jumbled together, not completely successfully, but a fairly satisfactory Big Reveal at the end. The prelude to the book, published in DWM in 1993, is online here.