Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Dig - Alan Dean Foster



Published : 1995
Current Cost: Looks to be out of print now but Amazon do have various 2nd Hand copies for 1p and some rather expensive new copies as per link - The Dig

Well I had promised one of my more avid readers that I would review another Christopher Pike book but I must apologise to her as I got distracted by “The Dig” by Alan Dean Foster instead.

Anyway, “The Dig” is a novelisation of an old PC Game that was created by LucasArts. I would like to say that I have never played the game so I can’t tell you if it follows the storyline of the game or not.

In regards to the Author, Alan Dean Foster in my opinion is a good writer. He has written books based on numerous movies, including the Alien series. I have enjoyed many of these books and some of his original work in the past so I went into this book thinking that writing a book based on a computer game should have been nothing special for him. 

And indeed, the writing is well composed; however some aspects of the story suffer due to it being based upon an adventure game. There are multiple examples of a series of events occurring as follows; an object is found, kept, and used. Everything the characters find seems to end up being critical to the plot at some point, therefore you end up reading through the book trying to work out yourself how to “solve” puzzles.

But let me get onto the story plot itself, it starts out like a pretty standard asteroid on collision course with Earth story. As you can imagine therefore, at first I found it rather boring as I have seen & read this type of thing many times before. This boredom though changed to irritation as one of the characters was introduced. Believe it or not, for some reason in this novel, some bright spark decided that one of the small 5 person crew going out to save the world had to include a journalist! I mean come on! Our lives are at stake here and one of the limited places is going to a journalist!!! The only thing that could be crazier would have been for NASA to send a group of haphazard oil drillers to the asteroid but that would just be too far-fetched........

Besides this, the characters involved in the mission did seem to make sense, although I found the main character rather lacking. I assume that this would have been the character controlled by a player in the PC Game which may explain why he seems rather un-developed as a personality.

The story does begin improves as the crew quickly solves the asteroid problem, although the journalist being involved in a Space Walk after they solve it is even more crazier than her being there in the first place!  After this however, they end up being transported to some alien world. This is where the majority of the novel takes place, with the crew trying to solve a variety of tasks and challenges in an attempt to return back to Earth.

Whilst I enjoyed what the story had become, I was hugely disappointed by the ending. Never have I read such a mushy, happily-ever-after ending to a book! Basically, as you read through the book, you realise there is a problem that an alien race has being trying to solve for millennia. However, once the humans in the story realize this problem, it is solved pretty much straight-away in a most unconvincing and unsatisfying manner. And to top it all, to make the ending perfectly happy, even the dead are brought back to life...  I think the original writer of the game, assuming this is how it ended must have watched far too many Star Trek Episodes with their annoying “Reset” button plotlines.

Overall, I did enjoy parts of the novel, but I just feel that a good story was let down and it could have been so much more