THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TELOS NOVELLA "GHOST
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-
IN MAY 1999.
The Millennium Bug is
threatening to bring
computers to a
standstill. As the
the full implications
of Year 2000, one
company seems to
answers... but what
exactly are the
methods and motives
behind the operation?
The title “Millennium Shock” pretty much tells you everything that you need to know about Justin Richards’ fourth novel for BBC Books. ‘Millennium’ clearly betrays the novel’s unabashed cashing-in on the world’s Y2K dread, whilst ‘Shock’ proudly proclaims that this is a sequel to Richards’ well-liked 1996 Missing Adventure for Virgin publishing, “System Shock”.
“Millennium Shock” picks up the story right from its forerunner’s final page and, if truth be told, it does everything that its handle promises. The inverse-cybernetic Voracians are back; this time around, the purveyors of ‘miracle chips’ that (from behind a corporate veil) they claim will cure the so-called ‘millennium bug’, though of course their true intention is far more harrowing. In my view, the plot of “Millennium Shock” is even more absorbing than that of “System Shock” – not only are the stakes higher here, but the whole affair has a hell of a lot more panache. The story is faster somehow, and sleeker. And, best of all, thanks to the author’s years spent working for IBM, the computer science behind his story is alarmingly real and immediate.
“You know. Millennium bug.
Make sure they'll still work OK in January.”
In fact, one of the passages that I enjoyed most in the whole book was Sarah Jane Smith’s chapter-long article which explains in some detail the science behind the Y2K problem. Like most people, before reading “Millennium Shock” I just about grasped the basic rudiments of the millennium bug, but Sarah’s article really fleshed out the mechanics of it for me in terms that I could understand. Presumably the scope of the predicament has been embellished by the author for the purposes of telling a cracking tale, but it is still fascinating and frightening all the same.
I think that what really sets “Millennium Shock” apart from the crowd though is its distinct style. Having Tom Baker’s Doctor wandering about in present-day London, with all its technology and other modern accoutrements accurately depicted, is a remarkable enough scenario in itself; but pairing him with his former companion and now twenty-odd years older MI5 highflier, Harry Sullivan, really lends this book an exceptional flavour.
“Incorrigible is my middle name.”
What is more, the two characters work exceedingly well together; Richards has clearly approached writing for this extraordinary combination with great relish. Harry is particularly well drawn, but the Doctor is good too – he seems ill at ease here, as if he is still reeling from Sarah’s unexpected going away and his recent traumatic experience on Gallifrey. A lovely portrayal.
All told then, “Millennium Shock” is a rollicking good read; even more so if you are prepared to give “System Shock” a whirl first. To say that this book is rumoured to have been written in just three weeks, Richards has certainly proved that he is capable of pulling a rabbit out of his hat when needs must – if anything, this hurried effort is his finest book to date!
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This novel’s blurb places it between the television serials The Deadly Assassin and The Face of Evil. Given that the novella Ghost Ship apparently takes place soon after The Deadly Assassin and Asylum was released later, we have therefore placed it in between the two.
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