Top critical review
An interesting story, but is it a novel?
on July 25, 1999
"The Tenth Planet" is an interesting and well-written story involving the approach toward Earth of a previously unknown celestial object. The theme has appeared in SF many times and has been used with varying degrees of success. The plot is fairly predictable. However, the authors do a good job with character development and raising suspense. The story flows smoothly, with people who act and re-act logically (with the exception, perhaps, of a US president who balks at nuclear weapons when faced with the greatest threat ever to the human species.)
The annoying aspect of the book is its clear "serial" quality. "The Tenth Planet" is not a novel, but an installment in a story series. Serialization is a very pervasive entity in SF today. Few novels appear to be written without the possibly, at least, of a follow-up work. Fortunately, most of the installments are relatively complete works (e.g., the Honor Harrington series or the Ender Wiggin series). In contrast, "The Tenth Planet" stops in the middle of the action, with a virtual "to be continued ..." statement. This tactic increases revenue for writers and publishers as readers buy the next book to find out what happened. However, the demi-novel format is just unacceptable, and diminishes an otherwise fine work of SF. This approach is very much that of today's comic books. The fact that the authors have written for "X-men" and the "Star Trek" series may not be coincidence