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Doctor Who: Drift [Mass Market Paperback]

Simon A. Forward
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Feb 2002 Doctor Who
White consumes the New Hampshire landscape, as US troops close like a platoon of ghosts on an armed cult, following a spate of unnaturally severe blizzards. Screams are carried on the frosty winds, but as the troops break in they find the house deserted. A gunfight with no victims. The Doctor, hoping to give Leela a taste of life among the tribes of Native America, finds he has fractionally misjudged his coordinates, and they too are trapped in the frozen wastes, for he has strangely lost his homing affinity with the TARDIS. In the nearby small town of Winnipesaukee, a little girl called Amber Mailloux, distressed by the disappearance of her father, frustrated with her mother's roaming, unsettled life, feels almost at one with the heartless, lonely raging of the storm. But none of them know that the snow, the ice is not just a backdrop, but the real enemy. At the heart of the drift is a living presence, glorying in the cold, inhuman structures of the ice. And it's hungry...

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (4 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563538430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563538431
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,120,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Penzance in 1967. From the age of about three I was probably dreaming of writing for Doctor Who. Certainly it wasn't a case of just watching it: I'd go to bed with all sorts of adventures and story possibilities buzzing around in my head. From the age of eleven, I knew, whenever any aunts and uncles asked the "What do you want to do when you grow up?" question, the stock replies of jet pilot, train driver, astronaut were never going to be good enough for me. "I want to be a writer", I always said. And, what do you know, I am.

So far, that's amounted to works of licensed fiction, including novels and audio dramas for Doctor Who, plus more recently three novelisations for BBC's Merlin series. Meanwhile, of course, my main goal is to establish a name for myself with my own original works, in a variety of genres, including Young Adult and children's fiction, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and - with Evil UnLtd - my own blend of SF Comedy.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detail adventure and a very good read, 9 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As soon as I started to read "Drift", I couldn't put it down. I found the details of the "White Shadow" Special Forces Group to be very military accurate; they could exist in the real world. The style of writing kept me engrossed in the book for hours. I was impressed by both the detail of military hardware and the description of the scenes within the book. Very good book, even if you don't like Doctor Who, it's worth reading from the military aspect of it. I can't wait until the next book.
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Format:Kindle Edition
I think this is a bold experiment in Doctor Who storytelling. It has the pace of a thriller, building up speed as the book progresses, as a thriller should - a surprisingly successful mixing of genres, I think. It gives us lots of characters, some of whom are going to live, some of whom are going to die in the course of the unfolding story, and some of whom we aren't going to care about but, by the end, some of whom we are going to be pleased made it through to the end. It also gives us a very different kind of alien, one that is as implacable, and as unbeatable as the weather. The characters of the Fourth Doctor and Leela are very well drawn, the Doctor in his most serious, almost sombre cast of mind here, with little time for humour as he battles to understand the mystery of the annihilating power closing in on a small, isolated American town.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious and lacking in depth 21 Jun 2013
By Alaran
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very uninspiring and unsatisfying Doctor Who novel. The writing is flat and tedious. Not a great deal happens apart from a lot of police, military, special services and quasi-terrorists (who all seem to be portrayed much the same) running around after or away from a mysterious entity. There is a distinct lack of atmosphere in a story that should have been laden with tension and suspense. Furthermore, there are far too many breaks in the text. Rather than increase the pace it breaks the action up too much, ruining any atmosphere and making the storyline seem disjointed.

The book has too many characters that are too similar and the author rarely invests enough time in his characters to allow the reader to form an attachment to them. Thus when they are killed or in jeopardy it is difficult to emphasise or care. The continual breaks in the text prevent the author from focussing enough on any individual character. The entity itself has no character at all and the reveal of two aliens is a completely unsurprising twist lacking any interest or intrigue.

The Doctor and Leela don't really fit in at all. It almost seems as if this book started out life as a separate story which the Doctor and Leela have later been slotted into. The characterisation of the Fourth Doctor is quite off and Leela, although close to her television personification, is almost a completely inconsequential participant in events.

On the plus side, there is probably the essence of a good story here. It probably shouldn't feature the Doctor and needs a much vaster word count to allow the author to invest more in his characters and bring them to live as well as allowing for a more tense and mysterious atmosphere. Done as a longer horror/suspense story it might work well. The novel might also have benefitted more if it featured the Third Doctor and UNIT instead.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An acceptable fourth doctor and leela novel 2 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Drift is a reasonably good fourth doctor story which is best read in front of the fire on a cold wintry day. For those who like Leela to be a feisty amazon type the portrayal in this book may seem a little too timid but the book moves along nicely and holds the attention well.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story 28 Jun 2003
By Gwyn Jeffers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book. Yes, there are swear words. But these books are tended more for an young adult/adult audience than children.Swearing is more permissable now. Simon has done a remarkable job characterizing the 4th Doctor and Leela just like they were in the series. I couldn't put it down; it's somewhat X-Files like, but much,much better. Give it a chance; just because there is swearing in it doesn't make it a bad story, it gets very good by the middle of the story!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorier than Ezra Jack Keats 18 Nov 2003
By Jason A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's hard to rate "Drift". It's a debut novel, nominally a 4th Doctor and Leela book, the second in four for the PDAs (coming behind "Psi-ence Fiction"). Leela is very much a minimal presence, which I think is probably a good thing, especially coming so soon after a book by the guy who created her.
What's most noteworthy, I think, is that "Drift" is set entirely in the United States (southern New Hampshire)... and actually feels like it's filmed in the US, as opposed to TC4! Let's face it, most "Doctor Who" novels set in the States miss the mark in terms of what characters would think and say. When Forward describes a stretch of I-93 in New Hampshire, though, you can actually believe he's driven it (as I have). The character names are more diverse than in "Salvation" -- although when a guy named Marotta shows up here, as sure as eggs is eggs, the word "Brooklyn" is close behind -- so there's finally a sense that not ALL Americans in "Doctor Who"have Anglo names and speak with stilted southern accents. On the other hand, the token New England general store clerk doesn't say "Ayuh" once, so maybe Forward doesn't know his cliches all that well.
I enjoyed the sense of menace that gradually builds up over the first 175 pages or so, and unleashes over a prolonged, violent, action-filled climax. 80% of the word count is devoted to descriptions of snow which, let's be honest, grate after a while, especially when the author has to resort to phrases like "cold inferno" on page 217. Before the action takes over, we meet several characters, military and civilian alike. The military leader is not a closed-minded buffoon, and even the drunken ex-husband gets a few moments of pathos before the inevitable happens.
The plot is hard to make out if you're reading too quickly. The details involve an extraterrestrial device of unspecified origin; a couple of incognito aliens (again, unspecified) looking for a way home; and psi-conscious cultists looking to cross over. Most of this information is kept in the margins -- perhaps too far in, especially in the case of the cultists, who are massacred offscreen practically before page one, and the survivors of whom streak across the first 4/5ths of the novel committing random violent acts for reasons we're never fully made aware.
Even if rookie author Forward gets a little carried away with choice of language and stylistic techniques -- clarity and simplicity really are virtues, even though the BBC editors don't seem to encourage them -- there's also solid plotting, good characterization, and well-visualized action on display. And, lest you think Forward is taking this too seriously, the day is saved because the hero gets drunk. The palette is small (one New Hampshire village) but well-defined. Honestly, I enjoyed this far more than Stephen King's comparable "Dreamcatcher", which distended over 900 pages and was a lot more gross.
One thing that jarred is the sudden intrusion of body horror at the tail, tail end of the novel. Most of the early deaths are suggested at, not shown, or least played as CGI effects rathern than gore. In the last chapter, however, one character dies when icicles spike through their eyeballs. This jars, and I can only assume it was the fault of A) an editor who failed to take it out, or B) an editor who insisted, "Hey, this is a "Doctor Who" novel with psi-powers, so we have to trot out the same anime-style deaths that the New Adventures ran into the ground during their psi-powers arc!".
Otherwise, Forward manages to rise above more recent DW cliches, by leaving most of his regular cast alive, and reasonably happy, at the end of the day. All together this is one of the more enjoyable debut novels of 2002 and stacks up well with the fandom-acclaimed (and doubly oblique) "History 101".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Never judge a book by its cover 9 May 2002
By J. Surowiecki - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The artwork for the Doctor Who novel "Drift" is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous covers in the entire series' line. It conveys the chill and solitary feeling one would experience in a blizzard. I adored the novel for its cover more so than the story within.
About a quarter of the way into it I found myself doing the book equivalent of channel surfing... that is... skimming pages until I got to passages that mentioned either the Doctor or Leela. I would start reading at that point, as I really didn't care for a majority of the characters in this particular installment. But that's just me.
It's been interesting in recent adventures to see past incarnations out of the United Kingdom and in what is ostensibly foreign lands to fans of the series. This one was just a little below par story-wise. If this were an episode of the series... it would have been similar to "Image of the Fendahl" or "Underworld." I didn't care for those particular episodes, but I watched them just the same.
Two stars for the brilliant artwork and the fourth Doctor's ever-so brief appearances in the story.
4.0 out of 5 stars Snowy Who 20 Jun 2002
By David Roy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Drift is a Past Doctor Adventure featuring the 4th Doctor and Leela.
If I had to choose one word to describe the first book written by Simon Forward, I'd have to say "atmospheric." Forward does a wonderful job of setting the scene, but he falls down a little bit on the characters, which brings the ranking down.
The Fourth Doctor and Leela arrive in New Hampshire in the middle of a blizzard which has closed off Melvin Village. They meet up with White Shadow, a US Special Forces group that is in the area looking for a downed experimental aircraft. There's also a survivalist cult which is under observation by the military. Meanwhile, personal problems and strange disappearances affect some of the residents of Melvin, problems which result in these residents getting caught up in the saga of the downed jet. There's something out there in the snow, something that kills. Something that not even the Doctor understands. The Doctor must not only deal with this alien menace, but also some menaces that are all too human.
The main character of this novel, you could say, is the weather. A blanket of white coats this entire book (and not just the cover!). The atmosphere in this book is almost chilling as everybody is out wallowing in the snow, trying to get to where they need to be. The snow is almost a living creature in this book, and Forward almost makes you feel cold with his descriptions of what's going on. It's been a long time since I've had a scene in a book set as vividly as it is here. Sometimes, you get an image of a town that's in one of those sno-globes, which you pick up and shake. Other times, the atmosphere is menacing. It's always perfectly placed, though.
The characters aren't as well drawn, however. Most of the Special Forces soldiers have a personality quirk or something to identify them, but otherwise they're pretty faceless. The only ones who don't have this problem are Morgan Shaw (the captain), Kristal (the Native American guide), and Joanna (the medic). The rest are indistinguishable. The same can be said for the townspeople, other than the sheriff (Makenzie Shaw) and Amber, the daughter of Makenzie's girlfriend. They have a personality conflict which ends up with Amber getting intimately involved with the ongoing menace. But their story itself is rather dull. Other characters (both soldiers and townspeople) seem to be around just to be killed off.
This lack of character extends to Leela as well. Leela comes from a primitive society, and she is always learning from the Doctor's tutelage. When Forward concentrates on this, Leela shines almost as much as she does when her creator (Chris Boucher created the character on television) writes her. However, there isn't that much of this, as Leela is quickly separated from the Doctor and she's on her own. The rest of what happens to her is fine in a character sense, but she just doesn't get anything to do. She follows Kristal around for awhile and senses a kindred spirit, but that's it. She's sidelined to a great extent.
There are also two characters that, while I found them interesting, I found them unnecessary. They are two NSA agents who are harbouring a secret of their own. The mystery is fairly effective, but once it's revealed, not much is done with it. It becomes just a background trait, and it lost a lot of its interest when that happened. They didn't really need to be in the book, and I thought they detracted from the rest of the story. As characters themselves, however, they were quite good. Too bad they weren't in another book that was about them.
The Doctor is relatively well done, as Forward captures Tom Baker's manic energy that he brought to the television role. He's bouncing back and forth between situations, making foreboding comments to the locals and generally doing his best to solve the problem. He's fine, if rather stiff. And if I heard one more character (or even the narrator!) call him Doc, I was going to scream.
The situation that Forward presents, however, is very interesting. I like the idea of a weather-based foe for once. Usually, when you think "elemental," you think of water or fire, so this was a nice change of pace. The method of attack the creature has was pretty neat. I could have done without the zombies, though. The editor of the Who books seems to have a thing for zombies. I wish I knew why.
All in all, this is a pretty decent book, especially for a first novel. It's way above a 3-star book, but not quite a 4. Since I have to choose one, though, I'll choose 4. My advice is to revel in the atmosphere and not worry about the characters so much. You'll like it a lot better.
3.0 out of 5 stars Drifting along with the Doctor 29 Dec 2002
By kwaichang - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
While a loyal Dr. Who fan, this book taxes ones allegiance. The backdrop of alien agents, special forces, a sinister menace and an indian shaman are all blended into the story. The story, however, has little to do with the Dr. and he and Leela are dropped into the narative, here and there to perk it up. Unfortunately, not one of the better reads.
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