My frustration with the line abated slightly with this book. For e first time in a bit I could actually hear Sylvester McCoy's voice speaking theDoctor's lines. I could see the movements as he would do them. I could even, I sigh to say, see Ace and hear Sophie Aldred.
That wouldn't be a problem if I actually liked the way her character arc is going. Frankly, I don't understand how we get from the Travelers to the current Ace, but I am going to have to let that go. So, given the Ace we are given, I have to say she is drawn pretty well. Within this book, the characters are consistent to themselves. That certainly puts it more than a cut above the other books lately.
I think this is the first book I feel I'm truly getting a sense of Benny, too. Before, she was mainly not-screamy and not-Ace. This book, she forms friendships. She tries to escape competently. She is actually helpful. I seriously want this trend to continue.
Most importantly and thank Gods, the Doctor is back. I missed him so. Yes, he's plotting. Yes, he doesn't tip his hand and he overshoots and it bites him on the butt. But it's the Doctor I recognize, and I am so thrilled to have him.
I can see points in the new series possibly influenced by this book, most notably "The Impossible Planet." The Angels in the atmosphere are replaced by the demon in the planet's heart, and the two planets in impossible orbits are replaced by one in impossible stasis, but the claustrophobic atmosphere is very similar. It's easy to imagine Davies thinking about this, knowing that he'll never have the budget to realize it, and telling someone he wants something like it. (Not saying that happened, but...)
And there are interesting ideas here: the simulated child, the feedback loop system, the theological implications. I'm still not entirely sure what was going on with Miles and the tribal history. I did like the fact that at least someone tried to make the future multicultural whose name was not Paul or Ben. I also liked the multidimensional aliens, although I thought they could have been more, well, alien.
This is a book that could have been made clearer, but it succeeded on so many points I don't feel like nitpicking. After the previous few, it comes as a complete relief for me.