Martin Day has written 18 novels and non-fiction books about television in general and Doctor Who in particular. Among his Doctor Who books and audiobooks are Wooden Heart, The Sleep of Reason, Bunker Soldiers, The Jade Pyramid and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Children of Steel.
A frequent writer for television, he is a regular contributor to BBC1's Doctors, worked on Channel Five's Family Affairs, and was lead writer on CBBC's Crisis Control. He currently has an original film project in development in the US.
He also writes plays, comic strips, short stories and journalism, including over 50 articles and reviews for publications including Cult TV, Hammer Horror, Doctor Who Magazine, Times Educational Supplement and NME.
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I’ve just started reading the BBC 8th Doctor novels, so it’s taking me a bit to get used to the characters and pacing (compared to the Virgin new and missing adventures), but I found this work, by Martin Day well rounded.
It’s aimed at more mature readers and holds your interest without going over the top with swears and sex. The characters are solid and the 8th Doctor is pretty much as you’d like him to be, which is nice. The story is compelling and I actually cared about most of the characters - not something I could say about some of the other novels in the range.
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Paul TapnerTOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 July 2006
After so many adventures on a cosmic scale in a never ending story arc, it's great to get a book set on earth in a small location with a small cast of characters. An admirable tightness of scale that the range has lacked for too long.
And this is a very well written volume with it. Focusing on the human characters and how they perceive the doctor and his friends this has some very good characterisation and reads like a decent novel in it's own right.
It's not quite perfect as when the monster finally comes on stage at the end it's a very dull creation, although the author has clearly worked hard to make it an interesting and original one.
But don't let that put you off. This is one of the best books in the range
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Cracking good story3 Jun. 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
I've only been reading Doctor Who novels for a short time, but this one stands out as a great one, even for television-based genre novels. The story is deeply creepy, and keeping the POV characters completely in the dark about the Doctor and his companions was a stroke of genius - the reader might know these people aren't nefarious, but it's sure easy to understand why the other characters might have some concerns for "Dr. Smith" and his colleagues!
When supernatural trouble breaks out at what appears to be a haunted hospital (mental asylum), it's up to this strange Dr. Smith and his companions to untangle the clues to a history of danger, death, and fear to get to the bottom of the trouble.
Nicely eerie, and handled exceptionally well. It makes me wish Doctor Eight and his companions had gotten a little (more) screen time.
No medical license? Sure, why not treat the emotionally disturbed?22 July 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
As we continue the exciting end run of the Eighth Doctor adventures, where nothing is off the table and no story possibility is off-limits we-
Oh, wait, we're in a Victorian asylum. Haven't we been here before?
Sort of. Martin Day's last solo outing, the First Doctor adventure "Bunker Soldiers" was a solid piece of not exactly overwhelming storytelling that was decent in not striving to be more than it was. It was one of his few novels not co-written with someone else and since it wasn't a vastly better or worse quality that what had arrived in tandem with another, we could be sure that, if nothing else, he wasn't holding the other guy back.
Now he attempts to mix up the format and narrative structure a bit, which shows signs that someone is trying, or at least reading more inventive novels and attempting to apply what he's learned. We're given three distinct scenarios early on, one of a man in a future asylum who remembers long ago being called "The Doctor", while we're also given a series of journal entries detailing the strange events at an asylum in the 1800s. Meanwhile in the present day a disturbed girl arrives at an institution after voluntarily committing herself, only to recognize the place as an odd one she's seen in dreams. Fortunately some of the staff is there to help her, including the strange new doctor, who likes to be called "The Doctor" and has two research assistants gathering information for him, assistants who don't seem much like students.
Day is attempting all kinds of tricks here. The first, with the question of what happens to the future asylum holder, is a complete feint and kind of a cop-out (apparently it was written for something else and then incorporated here, and it shows), but the rest shows him trying to take the different narrative threads and weave them together, while also giving us an outsider view of the Doctor and team at work. For one of the few times with an author who isn't being relentlessly experimental, the Doctor and friends don't become our guides into the world of the strange, instead forcing us to watch them and try to figure out what the heck they're trying to do. I have a fondness for the times when the Doctor is being proactive, if only because it marks a change of pace from a constant series of him randomly running into problems or being taken off-course. Plus we get to see how the team acts as everyone coordinates into something resembling an actual plan before all the alien stuff starts picking people off.
Things don't quite happen that way. We get plenty of the Doctor, who is accessible and on-hand for all sorts of feats of derring-do, solving problems and achieving solutions as only the Doctor can do, but here he acts more as an omniscient presence, filling in gaps where they need to be filled and generally telling everyone what to do. This means that Fitz and Trix get shoved to the side, Fitz gets some interesting moments (at this point it's almost impossible for him not to) but Trix remains a cipher as usual (and should be more useful here, given her experience). We don't get enough of the fun Doctor/Fitz double act or even whatever spanner in the works they want Trix to be. Instead the asylum is populated by the various doctors and patients, in all their quirks and indulgences, to the point where the story starts to become a soap opera with the encroaching threat of an alien presence (there are not one but two secret affairs happening!) and while none of the character are embarrassing or even bad, we pay the admission fee to see our favorite characters in action. Especially since the novel doesn't give us any real insight into the Doctor or the TARDIS crew beyond, "gosh aren't these people strange?" which we knew already.
And that's the problem with the novel. It wants to take all the elements of strangeness, but isn't able to integrate them into anything that states a new perspective or point of view. The Doctor off to the side is just one example, while the conceit of the journal entries gives us some idea of what happened the first time around but mostly just seems a way to fill space and give us a tenuous connection to the present day. It could have easily been summarized elsewhere. And when the alien threat does appear, as it must, we're once again treated to the Doctor as walking encyclopedia, knowing not only who these beings are but how to defeat them (amnnesia! he has amnesia!). He also seems to be violate his own ethics by straight out advocating obliteration, which comes across as especially odd since he takes pains to point out that the actions of the beings, while detrimental, are part of their life-cycle and not intrinsically evil. You would think with that knowledge the Doctor would find another solution. We get a convoluted solution instead, with hand-waving and timeywobbly stuff that we're all used to nowadays, aided by the fact that we don't have his point of view and thus can't ask too many questions. The aliens seem more a crutch than anything else, giving us a case of the bwah-ha-has via proxy and scary dogs simply because it's a creepy visual.
Yet it reads nicely and passes the time. I managed to read the whole thing in the course of a cross-country flight and while I may have furrowed my brow at several moments, I never wanted to try to open the window of the airplane to toss it out. It's pleasant and passable, a good novel by someone who has read the great stuff and taken it to heart, but isn't sure yet of that elusive element that makes the great stuff great.