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Fine Premise, Some Good Stories.

By:MIchael McGovern, Edmonton, Canada
Date:Friday 12 January 2007
Rating:   7

The idea of the TARDIS bringing the Doctor into isolated, closed-off places hidden from the rest of the Universe is superb. What deeply buried secrets lurk within the black bolt-holes of the cosmos? The concept is claustrophobic and threatening, and the cover is great (the TARDIS light illuminating a dark metal cavern.)

Some of the stories are halfway decent - "Dust," by Paul Leonard, is a murder mystery on Mars, and "House," by Jeremy Daw, has the TARDIS arrive in a living house inhabited by some unusual persons.

Some of the stories are quite poor - "Doing Time," by Lance Parking, involves a group of thieves of Galifreyan technology put into a time loop as punishment. I, for one, got tired of reading the exact same sequence of events unfolding itself over and over again. (Parkin actually uses the same WORDS again and again, with little variation, save for the Doctor's intervention.) Not one of my better reading experiences.

Overall, most of the stories waver between being somewhat good and poor. The one notable exception is "The Ruins of Heaven," by Marc Platt.

"The Ruins of Heaven" is without a doubt the crowning jewel of the collection. It is visually stunning (Platt's descriptions are incredible) and the imagination behind it is awesome.

The story deals with a real angel from Heaven who is found trapped within the remains of where Heaven used to be.

Platt's invention of the awesome "Heaven World" with its stacking palaces built on cloud - and of the angel himself, who can hear all prayers of everyone everywhere - are staggering.

Marc Platt has the most incredible mind of any writer I have ever encountered, anywhere. This awkward story concept becomes powerful and dignified under his guidance. Nowhere else have I seen such huge concepts grappled with and made believable and compelling, made REAL.

The story mounts to a powerful conclusion, and I say it is worth the price of the book for this tale by itself. A towering achievement.

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