Tears of the Oracle, by Justin Richards

Second paragraph of third chapter:

The angel was actually a collection of data equations and mathematical emulations that had once been a Ship. Probably. Now it was reborn as Gabriel, though he preferred to go by the name given him by Professor Bernice Summerfield over sherry: Clarence. And God was the supercomputer that, for want of a better description, oversaw and organized the lives of the People. And the People, the organic ones, the Ships and droids, and the few hybrid entities like Clarence, lived in the Worldsphere. And the somewhere that most of God ‘lived’, at least for most of the time, was a moon called Whynot. Though nobody knew why that was.

This is one of the Bernice Summerfield New Adventures involving the People, the Whoniverse’s adaptation of Iain Banks’ Culture, though in fact here they are more a part of the background as Benny goes off to resolve a mystery as part of a crew whose numbers begin to dwindle violently as soon as they reach their destination and begin communicating with the local ancient entity (the Oracle of the title). Nothing is quite what it seems – is Benny dying? Is Braxiatel the Doctor’s brother? – but I kept turning the pages to find out what would happen next. I’ve said before that Justin Richards is the Terrance Dicks of the current generation of Who writers – insanely prolific (has written more Who books than anyone bar Dicks, and more spinoff novels than anyone else at all), prose always at least workmanlike, sometimes jumping track to be memorably good, and this is in the latter category.

Next in sequence: Return to the Fractured Planet, by Dave Stone.