By Trevor Baxendale

Two planets, Janus Prime and Menda, orbit a Red Giant on the edge of the galaxy. The planets lie diametrically opposite each other on either side of the huge sun - but where Menda is rich and fertile in the light of the sun, Janus Prime's moon leaves the sun in a constant state of eclipse.

Humans are colonizing the area, and a rival group sets up on Janus Prime via a mysterious transmat system left behind by the planet's former inhabitants. But what is its true purpose?

When the Doctor and Sam arrive, they must piece together a centuries-old puzzle. How can Janus Prime's moon weigh billions of tons more than it should? What is the secret purpose of the hyperspatial link? They discover a terrible weapon hidden in the glowing sands of the planet, one that if it falls into the hands of the warring humans could destroy the galaxy.

This is another in the series of original adventures featuring the Eighth Doctor and Sam.


The Janus Conjunction, by Trevor Baxendale, BBC Books, ISBN: 0 563 40599 6,

The planets Janus Prime and Menda are both in orbit of a vast Red Giant star, but are starkly different. While Menda is beautiful and fertile, its counterpart is trapped in a constant eclipse and wracked with deadly radiation. The Doctor and Sam arrive on Janus Prime and find themselves in the middle of a conflict between the human colonists and their former protectors. They soon discover the mysterious nature of the planets; the ruins that litter the surface of Janus Prime, inhabited by massive spider-like creatures, and the hyperspatial link, which connects the two worlds. The Doctor and Sam must discover the answers to a mystery millions of years old, while trying to survive the escalating violence around them.

As a first contribution to the BBC range of Who books, Mr Baxendale’s novel is promising one, firstly because it continues the trend of recent books to break away from the reflection on continuity that had gone before. The plot begins with an atmospheric chase through the ruins of Janus Prime, introducing the menacing spideroids, as well as characters from both sides of the conflict, which is being fought between the two worlds. It is soon obvious that the conflict is on a small scale, the Mendans have only one properly trained soldier, the dashing Lunder who has taken up arms against his former comrades. The military contingent on Janus Prime led by Captain Zemler however have a rather unique disadvantage in their war effort. The small scale of the conflict allows the human side of the situation to appear more prominently and makes the plot more involving and realistic. The Doctor and Sam are on form once again as an effective team. Although they are separated for large chunks of the plot, as often happens in their adventures the connection between them is always apparent. The Doctor’s non-aggressive nature is true to form; offering an attacking spideroid a fruit and nut bar and his rage at Lunder’s actions are just two examples of this and generally illustrate the good characterisation of the Time Lord. Sam is also given a lot to do, although the amount of suffering she goes through has a great deal to do with it!

The supporting characters are also almost universally excellent, notably Lunder and Julya on the Mendan side and Moslei and Zemler as the officers trapped on Janus Prime. Their tragic situation is a horrifying and unenviable condition, the ways in which each man handles their fate adds to their depth as characters, as well as highlighting that there are no real aggressors in the war, only victims. “The Janus Conjunction” contains many interesting ideas and although many are not original, the way in which they are crafted into an enjoyable story is far more unique.