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Doctor Who: Salvation [Paperback]

Steve Lyons
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Jan 1999 Doctor Who
New York, 1965. A time of conflict between ideologies, races, generations and genders, when crime runs rife and an unpopular war drags on in a distant land. In the midst of this turmoil, people cry out to their gods. And now, it seems, the gods have answered their call. Walking the slums and tenements of downtown Manhattan, demonstrating extraordinary powers, five strangers are gathering a growing crowd of worshippers.

Steven wants to believe in miracles, but the Doctor is more skeptical. What are the strangers' real motives, and why does history make no mention of these events? As New York begins to tear itself apart, the Doctor's non-interventionist principles are tested to their limits.

Product details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; First Edition edition (4 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563555661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563555667
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 546,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine, but a bit lengthy. 14 Aug 1999
By A Customer
I was looking forward to this novel. The only previous past Doctor book I'd read was "The Witch Hunters" by the same author which I thought was very well researched and plotted, and you could quite easily imagine the dialogue of the TARDIS crew being voiced by Hartnell, Russell et al. I didn't feel the same amount of enthusiasm about "Salvation" though. I felt the plot dragged at times and I didn't find it as easy to read as its predecessor. Basically, the story involves a small group of aliens coming down to Earth. This erstwhile group has no real identity and thrives on the wants and needs of others to give it substance. At the time of their arrival, the human race is wanting to believe in, apparently, a group of gods so that is what the aliens become. Despite certain reservations, however, I did find much to commend the book. As an exercise in filling out the characters of Steven and, in particular, Dodo it excels. A lot of thought has gone into fleshing out the latter's introduction and making sure that it shoehorns perfectly between "The Massacre" and "The Ark" without any contradictions (and the book even explains away Dodo's odd changes of accent). Steve Lyons' device of separating Dodo and Steven for most of the novel helps avoid any clashes. This desire to tie up loose ends and rationalise mistakes made by the original series appeals to me and I think I'll check out "Business Unusual" next which apparently aims to do the same thing. To summarise, I would recommend "Salvation" but I would say it's not un-put-downable and could have done with being thirty pages shorter.
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I can't really improve on comments others have made except this: Steve Lyons is consistent, he is a great writer that really knows the 1960s characterisation of the 1st Doctor and his companions - and it shows. Some of the other Past Doctor authors are not so convincing. This contemporary 1965 tale featured an american version of the military which bore a resemblance to U.N.I.T. And the more I read General Marchant - the more he felt like a US version of The Brigadier. Possibly inspired by THE WAR MACHINES. It is good reading. The only reasons I kept to a 4 instead of 5 are a) not quite as captivating as the "brilliant" THE WITCH HUNTERS by the same author, b) while characters were spot on 60s, the plot was more suited to 70s characters including "the" U.N.I.T. c) It did get long winded at times. I tend to like maximum dialogue, this sometimes had page upon page of narrative description. But still a high standard of writing and gave some much appreciated depth to the relationship between Steven and The Doctor. Even Dodo was palatable, just.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Salvation 22 Nov 2013
Believe it or not Salvation is only the second Past Doctor Adventure in the range to feature the 1st Doctor and just like the first (The Witch Hunters) it is written by Steve Lyons. The Witch Hunters was a fantastic history piece which truly captured the era on the page and as such I had high hopes for Salvation which deals with a more modern era.

Salvation deals with alien "Gods" crash landing in London and New York in the mid 60's. The survivors only want to help Earth but struggle to understand the human wants and desires so latch onto certain humans. The novel starts promisingly, but the pace soon slows to a crawl and by the halfway mark nothing of note has occurred. It becomes clear however that the Gods are shaped by mankinds thoughts and desires, making them very dangerous. Lyons again deals with mass hysteria but without the factual backdrop it sometimes seems a little flat. The ending works quite well, but I still felt the novel was missing the spark usually associated with Steve Lyons.

The Doctor doesn't get much time to shine as Lyons has him taking a back seat for a lot of the novel, but when he is used, he is perfect Hartnell. The companions are Steven and Dodo with the both getting a little bit of background, something missing from the TV series. Both are faithful to the TV show, but neither are that exciting. Dodo could be Ace, or Sam, which is a shame as I'd hoped for some 60's style teenage angst for a change. Steven is shown to be having doubts about travelling with the Doctor, and doubts about the Gods, but aside from that he's a very uninteresting companion on the page.

The supporting cast is sadly cliché after cliché which is a very poor show from Lyons.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A new pantheon for modern times? 17 Oct 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Dodo Chaplet is perhaps the companion of the Doctor most in need of fleshing out. We really didn't get introduced to her (she just stumbled into the TARDIS in the final minutes of 'The Massacre') and we never really saw her go (she was bundled off to the country, never to return, halfway through 'The War Machines'). Given that she is a cut-down version of Vicki (who was herself a cut-down version of Susan), she needs some attention.
Recognising that Dodo seemed entirely at home in the TARDIS in 'The Ark' (simply disbelieving that it could travel through time), Steve Lyons undertakes a story which establishes Dodo as part of the TARDIS crew and sees some travel in space (from England to America) that still allows her scepticism to be in place.
'Salvation' is a story about mysterious beings, claiming to be gods, arriving on Earth and setting themselves up as a modern-day pantheon. They are Max, the God of Materialism; Norman, the God of Order; Jennifer, the Goddess of Free Love; Dennis, the God of War; and their leader, the Patriarch. And some amusement they caused me (gods named Norman and Dennis? Much chuckling.)
The theme of the story is largely the need to believe, and what people will do for their beliefs - and to those who have different beliefs. But it also remains a human story, even with its larger focus.
Mr Lyons is far kinder in his approach to Dodo than some other authors have been (see 'The Man in the Velvet Mask' and 'Who Killed Kennedy?'), but I really wonder why authors are so obsessed with giving Dodo a sex life.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good 6 Jun 2004
By Henry - Published on
The writing is excellent. The story is interesting. The plot is just okay. The Doctor is superbly written, as are companions Steven and Dodo.
Something about this plot felt awkward. Aliens taking on the roles of gods in Central Park was just a bit hard to conceptualize. The idea itself makes sense, but it's hard to imagine such a "hoax" happening in 1965 (or any time). When Doctor Who deals with aliens on Earth, it works better when the least people know about it (such as novels: Scream of the Shalka & Human Nature). Perhaps this is why X-Files is so believable.
However, when masses of people are involved in such a grand event of gods/aliens, it makes for a far less believable, credible story.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great job as usual, Steve 28 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on
For originality in Dr Who books, this is up near the top. The author not only comes up with some original aliens, but develops the idea enough that that whole book is worth reading (not just part of it).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If it were realistic, someone would have tried to mug the aliens in Central Park 1 July 2009
By Michael Battaglia - Published on
The problem I've noticed while reading the BBC line of Doctor Who books is that they seem to have difficulty taking advantage of the medium and instead resolutely shoot to portray an average Who story, just on the printed page. Which is all well and good, if the TV show didn't already exist. Just as there are things that TV can do that books can't, there are plenty of things that books can accomplish freed of the restrictions of making it "just like TV".

Granted, I have no idea if the authors involved in this series were under any kind of mandate from the publisher. It might have depended on the editor at the time, or maybe some authors really didn't have any ambition beyond writing a "really cool Doctor Who story". Fair enough.

So here we are then. "Salvation". Ooh, one word, portentious title. The First Doctor in all his ornery glory, with a mildly miffed Steven Taylor along for the ride (reeling a bit from the events of "The Massacre") and in her first grand appearance . . . Dodo! Everyone's favorite accent shifting character!

Meanwhile, some other stuff happens with gods in Central Park but that's not really import-

Oh, just kidding. Some beings show up in NYC claiming to be gods and granting people's desires, which everyone is okay with except for the Doctor and the military (UNIT aside, that's not a combination you see every day), leading the Doctor to figure out what makes them tick and how to stop them. Because you know they have to be stopped.

I wish I could get more descriptive about the story or wax a tad more effusively over it but despite its best efforts, the story remains squarely average. Which isn't unique to this line, but some of the authors could get around this by showing a bit of flair (see both "The Face-Eater" and "Beltempest") to make up for the rather plain trappings of the plot. Here, it stays the course the whole time and thus things never really get exciting. Sure, Lyons does a good Hartnell impression, Taylor is as reliable as ever and he makes a valiant effort in coming up with a reasonable explanation for why Dodo wandered into the TARDIS (since the show's producers couldn't be bothered to figure out one at the time) or why ol' Dorothea couldn't seem to decide which region of the home country she came from.

But if you come away from this novel pleased that someone actually bothered to give us a plausible explanation for the Dodo conundrum that had been bothering you all these years, then we probably aren't this book for the same reasons.

The god plot isn't anything new, nor is the "they feed off the power of our beliefs" and since you pretty much know a lack of belief is going to do them in, you're merely marking time until someone figures out what you did ages ago. Lyons tries to go for the sweeping relevancy of god debate, but sort of hedges his bets by making clear that these are just aliens pretending to be gods, instead of leaving it as a question mark in our mind. Once its clear that its just another alien invasion, things become more run of the mill.

Which is the problem here. It's very nice and all but there's nothing really striking to take away from it. And we need more than middling, because if the best I can get from the novels is a middling version of a TV show that takes up an entire shelf on my DVD rack . . . well, I can pop in a disc any day and watch average William Hartnell. And I'd rather do that than read someone else's impression of average Hartnell.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting. 16 Jun 2014
By G. C. Levine - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
And while you are reading note the name of the individual they meet in London. That name will follow the Doctor.
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