"The novel of Queen: The Eye allows the reader to learn more about the background to this fascinating sci-fi world, and delves deeper into the interactive storyline. Paul Darrow, making a somewhat suprising appearance as a novelist here, delivers a suitable fast-paced, rollercoaster ride of book, whitch catapults you and favourite characters from the game into further Queen-inspired fantasies and adventures".
So says one Blake's 7 fan when Paul Darrow's latest novel, "Queen - The Eye" was mentioned to her. I, on the other hand, had never read his first novel, having heard it was not very good.
Oh, if only people had been clearer about *why* it was not very good...
"The only reason I read his Avon book was because I was stranded in an airport for hours because my flight was canceled and I had to wait for another plane. And all my zines were in my suitcase. The book was small enough to carry in my purse. Afterwards I realized that it would have been better to be bored in the airport. - Sheila Paulson"
I had always thought that being considered a book 'perfect for reading at the beach or in the airport" was a sad indictment of a novel. And now we have a writer who is *so* bad, that his work isn't even fit for reading at the airport!!
"Queen - The Eye" seems to be the story of the Earth and how The Eye gained power over it, leading up to the situation that exists in the computer game. I bought it in a fit of enthusiasm, not aware that the problems with "Avon - A Terrible Aspect" were not just poor science and an overly-macho Avon.
I started this book really wanting to like it. I kept seeing glimmers of potential in the occasional nice juxtaposition of images... but unfortunately, I kept reading...
So what did I hate so much about the book? Why am I so convinced that it's just as well Darrow is an excellent actor, because he'd starve if he had to rely on his writing? Well...
His style is patchy and juvenile. Sentences tend to be very short, leaving the narrative with a dislocated, choppy feeling which never builds up any atmosphere or sense of threat. Many passages and phrases are clumsily worded and are very amateurish in tone, though once in a long while there is a phrase that has promise.
Some of these promising phrases are reworkings or plays on old sayings... and this is their downfall as well. About every two pages, the characters communicate using quotes from Shakespeare, poetry or just old cliches... and the potential cleverness of juxtaposition is lost among so many inappropriate and just plain silly uses. A dozen quotes about 'time', whether or not they are appropriate to the situation at hand, shows the writer being caught up in what he perceives as a clever writers trick and totally lost to the story he is trying to tell. Frankly, the extensive use of quote and cliche, mostly inappropriately, indicates that, although creatively adept at interpreting other people's lines, mr Darrow is almost totally imaginatively bankrupt when it comes to creating his own characters and situations.
There is also a worrying point of how the female characters are portrayed. Given that all the characters - male and female - are shallow, pointless and, by the end of the book, have died violently, perhaps this shouldn't matter so much. Still, when every female character is both stunningly beautiful, exotically desirable and has her head blown off (or is otherwise violently terminated) by an equally shallow man, you do have to wonder...
I did like one bit, in the middle of the book, where the Hero has to go through a kind of 'game' which is Shakespeare-inspired. It such a pity that I'm almost 100% sure that the reason I liked it - the originality of the game - was something created by the makers of the CD Rom, as the rest of the book leaves me in doubt as to Darrow's ability to have invented such an interesting segment.
To conclude - this is a very, very, very bad book. I am very glad the Paul Darrow is such a superlative actor, and I am stunned beyond belief that he can't see what a terrible writer he is. Watch him on B7, or at the theatre, any time. But save two hours of your life doing something more useful. Like watching grass grow.
... or maybe I've been too harsh....?
Review by Lynne Aitchison
The novel 'Queen the Eye' by Paul Darrow (who, as all Blake's 7 fans know, played Avon) is set in the future, when Earth as we know it has all but been destroyed.
The Eye is a computer which can project itself in human form. It gains support by eliminating its enemies and subjugating the rest of the population. With that, the Eye becomes bored and so introduces a game - one it feels it can control.
The book is very well written with the reader's interest being maintained from start to finish. I for one did not want to put he book down. It is very racy and therefore not suitable for children. Some of the content could disturb them (if understood at all).
The author has written his characters both descriptively and visually. I feel that the book would almost certainly transfer well to the big screen, perhaps with Paul providing the voice to the Eye (as in the computer game) and perhaps making a guest appearance.
In my opinion, the book is well worth the money. There is something for most people's taste. Although, as stated above, the book is based on the computer action game, I think the action is more in the book.
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