factioncat: (Default)
factioncat ([personal profile] factioncat) wrote in [community profile] foremansworld2009-05-04 10:17 am


As I mentioned earlier, I'm a bit behind in my EDA reading - I've just finished "Halflife" by Mark Michalowski. It's a strong entry in the series, with good solid setting, plot, and characters. I'll definitely be tracking down his PDA "Relative Dementias" at some point.

Espero is one of the more interesting and well realised colony worlds, and its inhabitants generally convincing. A couple of the royal family members came across as rather cardboard villainous stereotypes, but otherwise they worked. Calamee's eagerness to travel with the Doctor was rather distressing, since that's seldom the sign of a bright future for a guest star, but her eventual fate was effective.

The regulars were portrayed well, if oddly. It's clear that the Doctor and Fitz have exchanged some personality traits long before it's explicitly revealed, which suggests Michalowski has a pretty good handle on the characters. I'm not really warming to Trix yet; her introduction was the clumsiest since Mel, and a glamorous burglar with amazing powers of disguise is kind of hard to relate to. But Michalowski handles her rather better than most, and her encounter with Reo was genuinely disturbing.

The mystery of what's going on and the looming threat are built up effectively, it all makes sense once it's explained, and the resolution is clever and plausible. Continuity with the rest of the series is strong but not gratuitous, which is a nice change; the EDAs have frequently made a right hash of ongoing arcs.

It has been speculated that Madame Xing is actually Compassion, but I don't see it. Compassion never spoke with a "mechanical edge" to her voice as far as I recall, and becoming a viropractor on Espero seems like an odd career choice for humanoid timeship. Xing's style doesn't seem the same at all; the glowing spheres and invisibility "glamour" are fantasy trappings that I can't imagine Compassion having any patience with. The "have we met before?" conversation is ambiguous, but I read it as indicating that the Madame Xing whom the Doctor meets in the book has travelled back in time, after meeting the Doctor for her first time at some point in the Doctor's future, after he's regained his memories.