Wednesday, 18 June 2008

"Doctor Who - Decide Your Destiny: The Haunted Wagon Train" by Colin Brake

The consistently disappointing Colin Brake is back for his third crack at a Doctor Who: Decide Your Destiny book, this one being the final volume in the second batch of books and the eighth in the series as a whole. On the bright side, The Haunted Wagon Train is a welcome second trip to the past for the range. "Pioneers travelling across the American Midwest report ghost sightings, but you, the Doctor and Martha believe it's extraterrestrial activity. Can you track down the aliens before it's too late?" Ooh, spooky.

Right from the off Brake's old problems are evident, as your very first choice is between two problems the TARDIS could be reporting -- because all such faults are the decision of pre-teen boys the Doctor's randomly picked up! (Well, now, that sounds bad...) I almost gave up on the book right then. But, determined reader that I am (plus the fact that I bloody paid for this... and they don't take too long to get through), I ploughed on. Delving further, you'll find that, once again, many choices lead to new sections that both end with the same choice once again, making a number of your decisions mostly irrelevant. It would be less bad if the paths were similar but not identical, as your decisions could always have future repercussions -- for example, if you choose to meet a Western scout early on, he asks you the name of the current President. Whether you get it wrong or right, you'll go onto the same section after, so it's a pointless choice, but it really shouldn't be -- if you get it wrong he really should turn against you! Or at least be able to 'remember' it for later. But the limited scope of the book doesn't allow this, of course.

Despite these weakness, I pushed through to the book's end, one of a whopping eleven possibilities. Such variety in that respect is good at least, though as I haven't read them all there may be several almost identical ones for all I know. The plot itself -- about ghosts haunting a wagon train (as you may have guessed from the title), which, of course, turn out to be aliens -- is OK, though not exceptional. Most of the solutions seem to be of the "help the alien find a new home" variety. Compared to the range's only other historical, The Crystal Snare, the amount of detail -- or "educational worth", if you will -- is negligible, and the setting isn't exceptionally well evoked.

Another weak effort from Mr Brake, then. Luckily there's only one more book to go from him... and it's up next...

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