Vanishing_Point_(Doctor_Who)Stephen Cole
BBC Worldwide

Imagine a world where death has meaning, where God exists, and faith is untested.  Where people die with the purpose of their lives are clear to them in blissful understanding.  Such a world exists, hidden on the far side of the universe where a battered blue police box has just faded into being… But unknown to the populace, unknown even to the Creator, an alien evil has stalked this world for hundreds of years.  When the Doctor, Fitz and Anji arrive, they soon find themselves embroiled in the alien’s final, desperate plans for this planet – and in the hunt for a murderer who cannot possibly exist… Unnatural deaths are being visited on the people.  Campaigns of terror threaten to tear this world apart.  It seems that the prophecy of the Vanishing Point where all life shall meet all death under the Creator’s aegis is coming to pass.  For when God exists, prophecy, however fantastic or deadly, is fact.

Thus far, ever since reacquainting myself with the Doctor Who series five years ago, the most I knew of the eighth incarnation of the Doctor has been from the 1996 television movie that attempted to relaunch the character…and what I could glean from the various fan wikis dedicated to the show.  While he was only realized on television the one time, the Eighth Doctor’s adventures as the time- and space-traveling alien were more fully realized in other media.  And there are quite a few novels out there featuring number Eight, this particular one of which I stumbled upon used at the local Hasting’s store.  My, but I do so enjoy stumbling upon these little gems from time to time.

Anyway, the story of Vanishing Point finds the good Doctor and his two companions (an early 20th Century lad named Fitz and a later 20th Century Asian gal named Anji…had to look ’em both up as I was rather unfamiliar with their characters, having been added as companions well beyond the TV movie) landing on a planet that’s governed by a theocracy of sorts, where the populace worship an entity known only as the Creator.  If you’re genetically perfect, well then your death has had meaning, and the clerics are more than happy to sus out the details of that purpose for your loved ones post mortem.  If you’re not genetically perfect, well…sucks to be you, as the Creator doesn’t even see you, let alone acknowledge your existence.  Of course, with every good adventure story involving the Doctor, there’s always something more lurking underneath the given surface, and here it’s no different: there’s a sinister plot hatched by a centuries old madman to unravel and destroy the Creator – and the innocent lives that put their trust in the deity – and the key to this mystery lies in the very DNA of everyone.

Vanishing Point was a pretty decent adventure that moved along at a fairly good clip, took some interesting twists and turns with the plot, and shed quite a bit of light on the mannerisms of the eighth Doctor that, unfortunately, weren’t able to be explored with just the TV movie.  Seems the Doc is still prone to amnesia every now and again (there’s a couple of books that take place before the events in this novel that touch on just such a time that’s alluded to in the story), and seems to get more scrapes and bruises than any other Doctor I’ve seen.  Or in this case, read.

In any case, Vanishing Point was a very good Doctor Who adventure, better than your quicky read and surprisingly more PG-13 than most stories I’ve read.  This piques my interest in snooping out more of these Eighth Doctor novels.