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Doctor Who: Slow Empire Mass Market Paperback – 2 Jul 2001

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; First Edition edition (2 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 056353835X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563538356
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 11.2 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,028,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 July 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A massive empire consisting of a thousand worlds has existed for a considerably long time. Each world believes itself the heart of the Empire. Forces are at work behind the scenes of the Empire, ensuring that certain objectives are fulfilled. It is to this Empire that the Doctor brings his companions Fitz and Anji when the TARDIS is invaded by the Vortex Wraiths, into the heart of the Slow Empire...
One thing that is certain is that Dave Stone books are an acquired taste. His style of writing is so unique within the field of Doctor Who that any new one bearing his name is either likely to incite cheers of joy or cause a stampede of people who can't avoid it quickly enough. No single author within the Doctor Who range can be as brilliant and inventive as Stone has been in his past books such as Death And Diplomacy, The Mary-Sue Extrusion or Heart Of TARDIS and then as unreadable as his books have been in Sky Pirates! or Return To The Fractured Planet. But for his second BBC novel, Dave Stone is on his top form.
The Slow Empire itself is a very enjoyable novel. Stone's unique style of writing shines through well making each page a joy to read. He's structured it by having two distinct narrative stances throughout the text, one in the traditional third person and the other using the first person perspective through the eyes of Mr. Jamon de la Rocas, who proves to be a very interesting character and it soon becomes obvious that Stone enjoyed greatly writing this extravagant character and his love of language shines through.
The characterisation of the three regulars is good, although because of certain spacial anomalies present within the area of space that The Slow Empire is set, their characters behave slightly differently to normal.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Currently I am working my way through this series in order and this is the first book I have not been able to finish, I think that in itself speaks volumes.

The story does run onto the next novel as the TARDIS crew are in a bit of a state at the start of Dark Progeny but missing this one doesn't make a big difference as far as the series is concerned.

In short don't bother.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By on 10 July 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Oh dear. Having read the novels of Dave Stone for some years, I still cannot get to grips with his odd style which is very hard to swallow. It is a style that renders his work dead and difficult to read. Slow Empire is no exception. I have no problem with a clever writing talent but a talent that thinks it is clever but patently is not... Having said that there are two funny jokes in here and the first scene in the TARDIS is wonderful. A grudging 2 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
The Groan Empire 9 Feb. 2013
By Pamela - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me offer a little advice to those of you considering buying this book: DON'T. I've wasted money and time that I will never get back. It is just about the worst Doctor Who novel in any series. The Doctor is portrayed as a ditzy shadow of himself who does pointless things simply for the heck of it. The visited planets were agonizing to read about. And to add insult to injury, there is a "Marty-Stu" (male "Mary Sue") character who inserts himself into the Doctor's party based on no merit other than existing and who becomes the "narrator" of the book, with little asides into his own uninteresting life story. By page 100, I gave up and just skimmed through the rest of the story; it wasn't worth it. Do yourself a favor and buy a different Eighth Doctor novel, like "Anachrophobia". Any one but this one.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Slow Pirates! 30 May 2002
By Andrew McCaffrey - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THE SLOW EMPIRE is a mostly enjoyable romp consisting of a collection of more or less standalone set pieces that only tie together at the very end. The plot connecting them is paper thin, and isn't all that enthralling, but what is recommended about this book is its great central concept and the irrelevant asides that take up most of its pages.
The basic concept behind the book is that the TARDIS has landed in a strange portion of space where traveling faster than the speed of light is impossible. In an Empire spanning multiple worlds and various star systems, this means that journeys between planets will literally take hundreds of years. It's an interesting twist to have the characters suddenly finding themselves stuck in an Einstein-ruled universe. All of Dave Stone's descriptions of this Empire at the beginning of the book are wonderful. Stone cleverly portrayed this section of space in the epic manner that it deserved, reminding me somewhat of the galaxy-spanning society that Isaac Asimov created in his Foundation series. Unfortunately, while the accounts at the start of the story paint a vast, sprawling and fairly out-of-touch galactic empire, they fade a bit as the protagonists start venturing out into the universe. The book is too short to give each planet a distinctive feeling, and the result is to end up with a handful of mostly faceless worlds that appear as though they're reusing the same sets with a slightly different colour of paint slapped on them. Still, the set up was very nice and depicted quite vividly.
I'm not quite sure what was going on with the Doctor in this one. The author goes out of his way to state that the Doctor is regressing into the lives of his previous selves, but I couldn't figure out what story reason this served. At first, I assumed that it was an excuse for poor characterization (although the Doctor is portrayed fairly well for most of the book). Upon reflection I wondered if there wasn't a comparison going on between the Seventh and Eighth Doctors. Certainly at the end of the book, the Doctor turns out to have been fairly manipulative throughout much of the story, but almost nothing is made of it. In fact, the ending of the story seems to mirror similar events at the climax of the previous story, THE YEAR OF INTELLIGENT TIGERS, but is done here with so much less subtlety that the point lacks focus.
Where the book succeeds are the points in which the plot is turned off and the story veers wildly from one setting to another. Some might say that all this stuff is merely padding and that it doesn't affect the plot one jot (Anji would be one of those people, as she even remarks upon it during the course of the adventure). These people would be absolutely correct. But far from being a criticism of the book, this actually provides us with the more entertaining sections. Bad padding may be a terrible and boring thing to read, but the padding on display here is of a far higher quality than that. It's enjoyable and amusing.
Of course, not every aside and irrelevancy ends up as a positive aspect. There are several cases where Stone's excesses cause inward groaning. The awful similes and metaphors of previous books are back and at times they are quite distracting. Some of the prose tiptoes into the wrong side of pretentiousness causing much annoyance and rolling of eyes. As mentioned earlier, the plot really isn't all that interesting when said and done; the voyage itself is what is appealing, not the details behind it.
All over, this is an enjoyable tale that skimps a bit on the plot, but is still a lot of fun. The digressions and tangents work more often than they don't, resulting in a pleasant read. It's only a pity that at the end the plot comes back into play, as that section is far less interesting than the diversions that came before. The book isn't the deepest or most taxing thing that you'll ever encounter, but it's certainly amusing and a fun way to spend several hours.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A completely sober and serious look at what happens when mail service utterly breaks down 2 Feb. 2012
By Michael Battaglia - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Probably the most insightful and poignant moment in the entire book (and actually a pretty painfully astute observation in general) comes in the very last footnote on the very last page of the book. Yeah, this book has footnotes. I did read them, obviously, but not until the end. Which probably defeated the purpose but if you're going to be self-consciously wacky and quirky, do so on your own time, eh?

Dave Stone "Who" novels are distinctive in that they definitely have a certain lyrical tone (the defining title of his entire catalog is probably the New Adventure "Sky Pirates!" complete with exclamation point and a cover that pretty much screams "We're not taking this at all seriously"), a generally freewheeling sense of imagination, a sometimes bizarre sense of humor and not much resembling a coherent plot. You read a Dave Stone novel for the experience, really, to have fun with his prose or laugh at his jokes, not to have a real emotionally compelling experience or to see the overall plot of the line get furthered. He does what he does and the best you can do is either accept it or get out of the way.

This time he does rein in the indulgences to some extent, or at least keeps them sequestered to certain parts of the novel. Footnotes aside (and a lot of those contain some of the worst examples of his excesses), the worst it generally gets is the main supporting character Jamon de la Rocas who tends to speak a very fluttery and effusive style and narrates quite a few portions of the novel in that voice . . . your tolerance for it probably depends on how much you can tolerate his prose in general, which does come up with several striking descriptions but also comes across as someone simultaneously proving without a doubt that they have 1) a huge vocabulary and 2) aren't taking this very seriously. The character more or less illustrates that, he's speaking in a self-consciously comedic fashion but the events around him aren't very funny (a sense of tension between him and Anji doesn't stick around too long, presumably because he got bored of it) and since all of his dialogue winds up being in that style, it overstays its welcome fairly quickly.

The plot, or what I can make of it, more or less acts as a vehicle for a series of jokes and situations, as Stone describes absurd alien cultures or other wacky facts about the nature of space and the other characters. The Doctor and company find themselves in an area of space where faster than light travel does not exist. People can be teleported but very slowly. Fortunately the TARDIS doesn't have that issue and before long the Doctor has figured out that Something is Wrong and with Jamon in tow, they go to figure out what the heck is really going on. Along the way the novel begins to act as a travelogue, with them briefly traveling to each of the worlds in question, having a brief adventure that may or may not have to do with the plot and then leaving to go to the next world. The Collector is kind of funny, however, in small doses.

As I said, this works only as long as you can tolerate the digressions. Which is pretty much the entire book. For the most part they aren't totally memorable, the best two come in the sequence when everyone has to tell stories and a later bit when Stone goes all out and gives us alternate versions of Fitz and Anji's lives, Fitz's reaching levels of hilarity that are only lessened by the rather sobering fact that most of it really did happen to Syd Barrett. Yeah it's done in a way that shows a bit of imagination and actually does work in service to the immediate plot. If only the rest of the book was that direct. We're told several times that the Doctor is regressing into other incarnations but for the most part acts as he normally does (then seems to reverse it and suggest that he was doing it poorly, as if we're going to notice the difference . . . besides, if we don't, how are the other characters going to know?). The final nature of the villain more or less arrives because the book has run out of pages and has to wrap up and its not a grand culmination as much as a "All right, let's get down to it finally." But by that point you've already agreed that you're along for the ride wherever it takes you or you've given up entirely.

If this works at all its because I have some level of pent-up tolerance for this style of writing and quite a bit of affection for the Fitz/Anji/Doctor team, who still strike me as one of the most effective and normal groups of people to travel in the TARDIS. It's not particularly hilarious (at least not as much as the author seems to think it is) and the air of not taking itself seriously on any level can make you wonder why you're bothering with it, but if you buy into the wackiness it can be an interesting time at any rate. And it can claim to be different in tone from the other novels. Yet there's that last, incisive footnote, suggesting that Stone has in him a genuinely emotionally resonant novel that tames his more excessive impulses and balances the quirky with the heartfelt in a way that could give us something utterly striking. Here's hoping.
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