AUTHOR: DAVID SOLOMONS / PUBLISHED BY PUFFIN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
“There’s a Minotaur loose on the London Underground!” Only in Doctor Who. David Solomons follows up last year’s The Secret in Vault 13, a lively, Galaxy-hopping romp that occasionally buckled under the weight of all the fan-pleasing continuity reference-crammed into its text, with another breathless scramble of an adventure. This time, it mirrors the globetrotting tone of the most recent version of the show on TV. Largely Earth-centric, Series 12 saw the Doctor and her ‘fam’ fighting aliens and assorted extra-terrestrial odd bods in locations as diverse as London, Australia, 1940s Germany, New York in the early 1900s, Hong Kong, Madagascar, and 19th-century Lake Geneva. Similarly, Solomons sends team TARDIS hurtling across the planet in another breathless high octane yarn. After a prologue featuring the return of a long-forgotten old enemy set on Crete circa 2000 BC, it kicks off in the near future at the Palace of Whitehall in Westminster, before moving to a secret underground base in the Alps, and a crashed alien spaceship at the bottom of the Aegean Sea.
Back in the 1970s, Doctor Who was occasionally given to borrowing from classic myths and legends in its quest to find new ways to tell its adventures in Space and Time. In The Maze of Doom, Solomons has chosen to revisit one of the era’s less well-regarded stories - 1979’s creaky, cash-strapped Horns of Nimon. A massive starship comes to Earth in Crete in 2000 BC and the wreckage becomes a source of interest for the scientist Daedelus and his son Icarus. The repercussions not only of the crash but also the curiosity of those keen to explore and exploit its bizarre and unfathomable secrets reverberate down through the ages. This culminates in a desperate race against time in the year 2028 as the Doctor and her friends confront the rampaging metallic Minotaur and two ambitious 21st-century philanthropists and their plan to provide a new and enduring energy source for the world at any cost.
The Maze of Doom is aimed squarely at younger fans (assuming that there are any younger fans left). Still, Solomons never writes down to his audience, and he’s kept the tiresome references to a minimum too, this time. His story bounces along at a decent pace, is packed with incident, scares, nasty monsters, and a little bit of tame body horror here and there. Once again, Solomons captures perfectly the relationship between the Doctor, Ryan, Yaz (who gets a bit more to do here than she ever does on TV) and Graham, who provides most of the dry, laconic humour. Frothy, flippant stuff, but hugely readable even for those of more advanced years, The Maze of Doom is commendably tightly-plotted. It makes good use of its mythological origins, offering some neat contemporary twists on classic Greek myth while delivering a propulsive, expansive yarn entirely in keeping with the style of the current series. Stubborn old-school fans, as ever, won’t want to touch this with a bargepole but this is a thrilling little read for any youngsters invested in the antics of the Timeless Child and her chums.