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Doctor Who: the Algebra of Ice: The Algebra of Ice [Paperback]

Lloyd Rose
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Sep 2004 Doctor Who
Edgar Allen Poe lies dying in a gutter in Baltimore...The Doctor and Ace cannot help him - his death has already happened. Poe will be taken to a hospital, and will die in three days time without ever coming out of his coma. But even as the Doctor explains this, the man in the gutter groans and expires. Bewildered, the Doctor hurries Ace back to the TARDIS. At the door, they look back and see that the gutter is empty. In a moment, Poe staggers around the corner, drops to his knees in the gutter, then gets up and stumbles into another bar...Can the Doctor discover what is causing the time anomaly? Will he be able to prevent the universe itself from unravelling when everyone seems to have turned against him - even the TARDIS? Will he be able to escape the cold hell of absolute order? The answer, it seems, lies in the algebra of ice...


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (6 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 056348621X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563486213
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.9 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars is that you kate? 19 July 2006
By Paul Tapner TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Oddly, lloyd rose manages a complete change of style for her third novel. Which is probably good seeing as this is a past doctor one rather than one of the eighth doctor range. Featuring the seventh doctor and ace, this is a homage the new adventures range, and frankly it reads like one of those written by kate orman.

And that's a compliment.

This gives us a spot on characterisation of the doctor and companion, and some very original aliens. Which is something the range has often lacked. The only flaw is the presence of the brigadier, as he has so little to do there's really no reason for him to be in it in the first place. But apart from that this is still an excellent story, and well worth five out of five
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Read! 2 Oct 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As with her last two Dr. Who books, Lloyd Rose proves, again, that she sure can write a great yarn with lots of surprises. Algebra of Ice is another fabulous read. The story line is fairly linear (which I like), but that doesn't stop her from giving us twist and turns in her usual roller coaster approach. There is much more character development in this one than in her previous two (which were also wonderful). In her usual style, she makes the Doctor seem more, well, "human" than in many adventures, without taking away any of his magic.
Once again, there is a wavering of time. In this case, events repeat themselves, but not quite in the same way, potentially changing history. The Doctor knows that this has to be stopped, and he has to find the weak point that is allowing the time to waiver. With help from the TARDUS, he locates the point and finds that it is a human mathematician. That is about all that I will relate of the plot because I don't want to give anything away. You will want to get to the next page to see what happens.
In this adventure, Ace is the Doctor's only companion. Rose's development of Ace is terrific. Ace is not left on the sidelines in this one. She becomes a central figure, and the Doctor is lucky to have her around. Rose explores the Doctor-Ace relationship with all of the complexities that one would expect.
Rose clearly must have done a lot of research into mathematical trivia for this one. However, her mathematical references are presented in the context of the story, so don't think that you have to know any mathematical concepts to understand it. I was also struck by her knowledge of philosophical concepts that have, unfortunately, also become trivia these days.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A strange story, hard to pin down... 16 May 2005
By finna
Format:Paperback
A bit of an oddball story this, that manages to be engaging and intruiging without anything much actually happening. Almost the whole novel seems to be a big build up to something, but this is never really delivered and is therefore something of a disappointment. Worth reading, but don't expect to be blown away by it...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 3rd time unlucky 22 Oct 2004
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Unfortunately after 2 promising Eighth Doctor novels, Lloyd Rose produces easily her worst book with this misfiring 7th Doctor and Ace story. On the plus side this is a very light and easy read (think Terrance Dicks) with a couple of interesting characters - stacking up on the bad side we have bad technobable, bad maths, a corny villain with pitiful motivations, a shoehorned in Brigadier who contributes nothing to the story, a repetitive and boring plot, and story holes you could drive a snowmobile through. The author's easy prose makes this still readable, but it's ultimately a disappointing and lacklustre novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Read! 18 Oct 2004
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As with her last two Dr. Who books, Lloyd Rose proves, again, that she sure can write a great yarn with lots of surprises. Algebra of Ice is another fabulous read. The story line is fairly linear (which I like), but that doesn't stop her from giving us twist and turns in her usual roller coaster approach. There is much more character development in this one than in her previous two (which were also wonderful). In her usual style, she makes the Doctor seem more, well, "human" than in many adventures, without taking away any of his magic.

Once again, there is a wavering of time. In this case, events repeat themselves, but not quite in the same way, potentially changing history. The Doctor knows that this has to be stopped, and he has to find the weak point that is allowing the time to waiver. With help from the TARDIS, he locates the point and finds that it is a human mathematician. That is about all that I will relate of the plot because I don't want to give anything away. You will want to get to the next page to see what happens.

In this adventure, Ace is the Doctor's only companion. Rose's development of Ace is terrific. Ace is not left on the sidelines in this one. She becomes a central figure, and the Doctor is lucky to have her around. Rose explores the Doctor-Ace relationship with all of the complexities that one would expect.

Rose clearly must have done a lot of research into mathematical trivia for this one. However, her mathematical references are presented in the context of the story, so don't think that you have to know any mathematical concepts to understand it. I was also struck by her knowledge of philosophical concepts that have, unfortunately, also become trivia these days. Her references show that either she is very well read or she has found a great source for finding just the right philosophical reference. But all this is texture to the main story, which is a fabulous one.

So, great plot, great character development, great twists and turns, great texture, fun read. We couldn't ask for more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doctor, Ace And Ice 31 July 2008
By K. Fontenot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lloyd Rose (pen name of Sarah Tonyn) has crafted an excellent adventure for the Seventh Doctor and Ace in "The Algebra of Ice." It opens with the Doctor humming a funny tune. Then, the Doctor and Ace watch as Edgar Allan Poe lay unconscious in an alley after a long night of drinking. This eventually leads to Poe's death three days later, or so the Doctor thought. What actually happens is that time "repeats" itself a few times in just a few minutes and changes the outcome of Poe's fate.

This sets the Doctor on a quest to find out who or what is causing these brief blips in time. It leads him to the countryside in Kent where UNIT and the always wonderful Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart have uncovered a most peculiar crop circle that isn't a circle at all, but a series of lines and angles that are covered in ice. This opens even more questions for the Doctor and Ace.

During the investigation process, the Doctor comes into contact with a nosy paranormal investigator named Molecross who's after the "truth" and a brilliant mathematician named Ethan Amberglass who is somehow tied to the ripples in time and the crop circle.

Rose does an excellent job of portraying the seventh Doctor who, in my opinion, is one of the toughest to put in print. Sylvester McCoy's quirky, sometimes sinister Doctor had just a few set habits and mannerisms, and Rose manages to work all of them into this tale. Ace gets a lovelife, and has a few romantic interludes that might come as a slight shock to fans of Sophie Aldred's youthful portrayal of the character. I believe the "shock" isn't so much what Ace does with her love interest, but the fact that it's mentioned in the book. Ace just shouldn't do that sort of stuff, right? Rose did capture Ace's enthusiasm, both the good and bad, perfectly. The Brigadier is relegated to a small supporting role but Rose gets him down perfectly as well.

The new characters in this story, especially Molecross and Ethan, are very interesting. Molecross is an annoying nerd, simply put. I unfortunately saw a lot of myself in him and I believe that most fans of science fiction and the paranormal will do the same. Ethan's interactions with other characters in the story are what make him a wonderful character. From the Doctor to Ace to the primary villain, his relationships are covered in depth.

As for the villain, we don't actually get a good "visual" of it until late in the tale. In fact, a few references that it uses actually lead me to believe it was a well-known old enemy of the Doctor. The villain's puppet on Earth, though, gets a nice fleshing out as the story rolls along.

This is one of my favorite Past Doctor Adventures. Rose's portrayal of the Doctor, Ace's growth as a person and companion of the Doctor and some interesting new characters make this story great. Heck, Rose even manages to toss in a cheesy Pi joke that will have math mavens and everybody else chuckling just long enough to lighten up an otherwise dark story. Highly recommended.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rose hits the mark again 13 Oct 2004
By RomanaTimelady - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Okay, so I'm a little biased as my other two Lloyd Rose books (most notably City of the Dead) have special positions on my bookshelf so I was obviously looking forward to The Algebra of Ice immensely even though I could probably count all the PDAs I've read on one hand.

I wasn't disappointed.

The story was surprisingly tight, though it had the tendency to shift as all of Rose's books do, rather suddenly. I felt though that it worked here as she was clearer on the plot, very tight on the prose and excellent in characterization. As a matter of fact, it's not the Doctor or Ace who make the book at all, it's an original character, Ethan the mathematician, who really is the heart of the book, though it would be unfair to deny Ace's role as her relationship with Ethan provides a startlingly personal look at the material. Ethan's mysterious illness is wonderfully handled and pays off at the end as one assumes all along that it must be the impending alien invasion that is causing it which turns out, in fact, to be false and once again takes us to a very human place.

I was pretty good in math at school; took an advanced class but believe me when I say I had no intention of understanding this book. And that's brilliant because I can honestly say, I did! Rose makes it very clear, uses Ace, but in a not as obvious way as sometimes is handled, as an unknowledgable to explain, to demonstrate, to show without boring the audience to death or talking down to them.

Brett is a fantastic baddie, in the best sense of the word (and I had this strange image of Toby Stephens playing him, just gnawing at the scenery!). Too often lately, I've found that sci-fi likes to show us the "gray areas", as they call it: why a villain is doing something, how it's really deep and emotional even if disagreeable. Brett is a nihilist; he's doing it because he can. And most of all, because he's bored, because life isn't up to his standards, because every character in this book is in some way avoiding truly living whether it's out of fear (Ethan) or disdain (Brett). As the Doctor observes at the end, Ace really is the only one in the book who ever really was truly alive.

Not to say the book doesn't have its drawbacks, however. It's a complete regression to the NA days, with the Doctor's seventh incarnation having all the fun sucked out of him, showing it for what it supposedly "truly" is: manipulation; I was never crazy about that particular line of thinking. Ace is sometimes shown to be cringingly naive and I suppose we're supposed to be moved by the way she doesn't recognize the way she's being played (I thought we solved most of this in Curse of Fenric and Ghost Light but alas...). Rose claims that she didn't know if she could write Ace, and it shows terribly sometimes.

But all that aside, this was just a fantastic book; I finished it in two sittings! But, one question: what on Earth does that synopsis have to do with the actual book?
5.0 out of 5 stars Take heart, all those kids who scored low on the SATs. At least your skills won't doom the planet. 28 May 2013
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's nice to imagine that for one brief, shining moment back in the long ago period of the early 2000s, no matter how implausible the Eighth Doctor arcs were, no matter how tediously bad the Past Doctor Adventures might become, you at least had the hope that Lloyd Rose would publish another "Who" novel and everything would be okay. Somehow, more than any of the other authors that emerged during those times when quality was a roll of whatever the British use for dice, the name "Lloyd Rose" became synonymous with a mark of quality. No matter what else was wrong with the world, you had the comfort of knowing she wouldn't steer you wrong.

As you can probably guess, this one was no exception. Switching over to the Seventh Doctor this time out, she does her best to bring back the glory days of the Virgin New Adventures and comes way closer than anyone who wrote for the BBC line ever did. Handling the Seventh Doctor was always a strange task for the writers that came after Virgin losing the license and the Eighth Doctor becoming the "current" Doctor, as half the reading audience wanted to see Seventh Doctor adventures that were in the same vein as that dearly departed line and the other half wanted to see normal "regular" Who stories like the show used to do, without adding all that needless complexity and moral grey areas that the Doctor became known for later. Most of the Seventh Doctor books were written by the same authors, who did an okay job, but it was still a weird experience, as none of the ones who attempted to capture the New Adventures style could do so in a way that didn't seem a child putting on a suit that's too large for him and pretending he's an expert stock trader. But the more "normal" adventures felt watered down to those of us who had read the other stories, since we saw what the character could be capable of in the right hands.

Rose fortunately remembered, and even better is able to evoke the era without specifically referencing it. Noting some weird skips in time (like a broken record) the Doctor decides to investigate with Ace and soon enough it leads to trouble involving what was no doubt her favorite topic at school: maths. Before long they're bringing in UNIT and studying strange markings in fields, along with some bizarre ice that keeps appearing. The local genius maths guy finds himself trying to solve an even more eccentric colleague's seemingly unsolvable problem and before long it seems clear that someone is using maths as a universal language to communicate with someone else. The question is who and how bad is whatever they want (since you can safely assume it's not good).

For a novel where the engine driving the dilemma is based around mathematical ideas that most people can't even grasp without high level college courses, she does manage to craft a page turner without trying to convince us that a shallow pool is really the deepest of oceans (i.e. Dan Brown) or dazzle us with her intelligence and prove that she really is as smart as these concepts require (*cough*NealStephenson*cough*). While she does dial back the delightful strangeness that was a highlight of her first two novels for the line, the threat is more abstract here and fits the slightly more esoterically complex problems that the Seventh Doctor often faced, giving us aliens that are just this side of unfathomable without becoming ridiculously bombastic world-conquerers and requiring the Doctor to both think fast on his feet and plot out twenty steps in advance. Indeed, his portrayal is probably the best thing about the book, effortlessly recreating the air of both mystery and intense emotional weight that hovered over his character, the notion that this Doctor had made some big decisions because he felt that someone had to and he was the only one willing to bear the burden. He's serious and jocular in equal measure but even his humorous moments are colored in a distanced melancholy and she's able to convey both his alienness and the acute aches that drive him, that he can't quite put into words.

The whole book is a minor leap for her in terms of emotional impact, with even the supporting characters coming across as strange but real people, whether it's resident maths genius Ethan Amberglass or the reporter of weird ephemera just trying to find the truth or even the good ol' Brigadier, guest starring in a story that doesn't make a point of trumpeting it. Even the villain comes across as a person, just a high functioning damaged one. There are several conversations that are more revealing emotionally than we've seen in a while, especially with the Doctor as catalyst and pains are taken to depict not just what toll all this takes on the Doctor, but what it does to everyone who comes in contact with the story. And it pays off, not only does it make the novel seem more geared toward adults who are more interested in reading a good SF story featuring their favorite characters than seeing their favorite TV faithfully and bloodlessly recreated on the printed page, but even in the little moments as well. The ending, which makes great use of the maths concepts detailed earlier, wouldn't have worked if not for the context she had painstakingly established earlier.

Ironically, the only person who doesn't fare well in this is Ace. Someone elsewhere commented that Rose noted she didn't know how to "write" Ace and it does show her as Ace seems to be in that awkward period when she was Ace in the TV show but turning into New Adventure Ace, a more adult and grittier version. Rose doesn't seem to know which way to play it and the results have her doing adults things merely to make it seem adult (the New Adventures were guilty of this as well), including sleeping with someone in a rather cliched scene (which is played for laughs, if that makes it better) that even she questions afterward, although Rose gets good mileage out of the emotional connection later. Some others may not be happy that the aliens aren't well defined but I prefer when the Doctor had to be clever versus something more abstract, as opposed to fighting warlords and high commanders. Whatever keeps us off familiar ground.

As usual she never puts a foot wrong and this is probably the most satisfying Past Doctor novel since, oh geez, "Festival of Death" and probably the most satisfying BBC novel since, well, the last Lloyd Rose one. The biggest shame of this is that, coming to the end of my run through all the BBC novels, I don't have any other Rose novels to look forward to. Unfortunately she doesn't seem to have written anything "Who" related after this novel other than a Big Finish production in 2004 (according to a well known Internet encyclopedia) and given she has some television writing experience it's a shame the new show hasn't asked her to write anything for them. But maybe this was all the "Who" stories she wanted to tell, which is fine in itself, and she's gone back to simply being a fan like the rest of us. It makes it kind of a weird legend that she came out of nowhere and wrote three near perfect books before vanishing back into relative obscurity, but it seems to have just the right amount of strangeness and charm, much like her novels. And unlike most legends, at least we have the proofs.
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