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Review of The Pit by PalindromeRose

3 May 2024

Virgin New Adventures

#012. The Pit ~ 2/10

◆ An Introduction

This is how I unwind after stressful times: I review a story that absolutely no one expected to be good, and which entirely meets those expectations, namely Neil Penswick’s sole contribution to canon.

I say review, but perhaps the better word would be autopsy. Horridly written, littered with spelling and grammar mistakes, and a plot so mind-numbingly dull that it could have been written by someone who spent their entire life in a vegetative state! I genuinely considered skipping over this book and covering something more interesting – such as ‘The Crystal Bucephalus’ or ‘The Plotters’ – but I might as well get it over with. Here goes nothing.

◆ Publisher’s Summary

For two weeks now it has been the same message again and again, and it's getting stronger; death and destruction, the end of all things, Armageddon.

In an attempt to lift the Doctor out of his irritable and erratic mood, Bernice suggests he investigates the mystery of the Seven Planets — an entire planetary system that disappeared without trace several decades before Bernice was born.

One of the Seven Planets is a nameless giant, quarantined against all intruders. But when the TARDIS materialises, it becomes clear that the planet has other visitors: a hit-squad of killer androids; a trespassing scientist and his wife; and two shape-changing criminals with their team of slaves.

As riot and anarchy spread on the system's colonised worlds, the Doctor is flung into another universe while Bernice closes in on the horror that is about to be unleashed — a horror that comes from a terrible secret in the Time Lords' past.

◆ The Seventh Doctor

The Doctor feels totally incidental to Neil Penswick’s plot. He might as well have just went on a sight-seeing bus tour of the Seven Planets instead! This characterisation is awful, but that seems to be a running theme with ‘The Pit’.

When the Doctor was annoyed, in his usual spluttering way, he talked too fast and everything came out in a drifting Scottish accent. He didn’t like losing. The Doctor was slightly over one and a half metres tall. He had a mop of curly brown hair and a cheeky grin. He wore checked trousers, invariably too big for him, a white shirt and red braces imprinted with question marks. He seemed like a circus performer and had a shuffling walk which gave the impression he was balancing on a tightrope swaying in the wind. The lack of hope frightens the Doctor. That point where there’s no hope left.

◆ Bernice Summerfield

Penswick clearly didn’t give a damn about Prof. Summerfield, who appears to get sidelined so that ‘The Pit’ can enjoy a day out with a long-forgotten nineteenth century poet.

Benny used to hate watching twentieth century films and seeing the words “The End”. Although interactive holovids were the main source of home entertainment, she collected old movies and watched them repeatedly.

◆ Story Recap

In an attempt to lighten the Doctor’s mood, Benny suggests investigating the disappearance of the Seven Planets – an entire planetary system that seemingly vanished fifty years before she was born. Some say that it was a meteorite, while others say it was a terrible civil war. En route, the Tardis encounters some interference, before dropping like a stone on a large, unnamed jungle planet in the system.

This world is meant to be off-limits to all sentient life, but a great many people have recently arrived. Two shape-shifters in possession of the most powerful nuclear weapon in history: Pandora’s Box. Their destination appears to be an ancient and foreboding castle in the heart of the jungle. The Justice Police from the capital world of Nicaea have sent a crack team of hunter-killer androids to recover the weapon.

Elsewhere on the planet, a scientist and his wife have illegally arrived to perform clandestine experiments… though it isn’t long before an extraordinary red weed overruns the area, freezing whatever it touches in time.

Our time travellers soon find themselves separated in the undergrowth – Benny is forced into an uneasy alliance with the leader of the hunter-killer androids, whilst the Doctor falls through a dimensional portal leading to a demented hell-scape where pig-people take prisoners and force them into cage fights… also, nineteenth century poet William Blake is there for some reason.

◆ Everything But The Kitchen Sink… Burning In A Massive Fire

You’re probably having trouble keeping up with the story of this book, since Penswick decides to continually slap the reader in the face with plot thread after tedious and underdeveloped plot thread. The previous book suffered a bit from having far too many ideas, but that problem is amplified tenfold in Penswick’s story. ‘The Pit’ is quite easily the most unfocused book I have ever had the displeasure of reading. The author even had the bright idea to ram a police procedural into the book about space drugs and serial killers for literally no reason too!

I found it frightening how many similarities I managed to draw between Penswick’s book and the two Will Shindler audio adventures. ‘Scaredy Cat’ took place in a system shrouded in mystery where one of the planets had been quarantined, whilst his first story featured a mysterious jungle world full of military types that had all the personality of boring androids! The other thing that Penswick and Shindler have in common is that their stories are almost unanimously despised by all who have experienced them.

◆ Conclusion

Beware the monsters…”

Neil Penswick proved with a single book that he should have all writing materials confiscated from his home, lest we end up with another incoherent mess such as ‘The Pit’. This book is the written equivalent of contracting the Ebola virus and being kicked down the stairs by someone wearing steel-capped boots!

The grammar is bad. The pacing is bad. The characterisation is bad. Oh, and Penswick shoves so many random plot threads into his book that the story should probably carry a choking hazard sticker! It’s atrociously written, but I would still rather read this again than something like ‘Transit’.

Review created on 3-05-24