Welcome to Heritage. And you’re welcome to it. Not that anyone’s inclined to be friendly to strangers. It might be a 60th Century colony, but Heritage is really just another Wild West town, a mining town which went wrong. So all the usual suspects are there . . . the bartender who ought to leave, the Sheriff who’s given up on the unequal struggle for justice, and the black-hat with a pair of six-shooters who regards strangers as his prey. He happens to be a dolphin.
The idea that if Dolphins are actually nasty gits, lager louts in metaphorical Millwall shirts who simply look cute is the best thing about Heritage. Or maybe it’s just not my sort of Who. It’s very much in the style of the more self-important books of the 1990s, but there’s a difference between characterization and mere introspection, and by page 100 I was heartily sick of having characters spend a page or two reflecting on how the Doctor’s deeper and more dangerous than he seems, or on how young and vibrant Ace is, or looking at their own surroundings while wondering where it all went wrong. In one sense, this helps to bring home the crushing ennui of Heritage, but it ground me down to the point where I lost interest in the two central mysteries: what are the people of Heritage hiding, and more importantly, why is the Doctor so determined not to get involved?
Eventually the plot kicks in with a major shock, but this ultimately seems sensationalist, because the rest of the answers are too mundane - just another mad scientist who thinks his discoveries make up for the loss of human life - and the Doctor’s crisis of confidence seems artificial. Frankly, The Crooked World did a similar set-up so much better earlier this year, because it hid a hard core in enjoyable fluff, while Heritage tries to be ‘deep and meaningful’ on every page. The story could have been a slight, satisfying tale of the Doctor wreaking small-scale justice, but instead becomes a leaden tome weighed down by its own pretensions.
One S (out of Five)