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"Doctor Who", World game (Doctor Who (BBC Paperback)) Paperback – 6 Oct 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (6 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563486368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563486367
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tapner TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
The second doctor has been captured by the time lords, but before they regenerate him, he can do some work for them.

Terrance Dicks is a doctor who fan. And you'll get the most out of this if you're a fan. There are lots of little attempts at tying wayward continuity together - and some scenes take place off page in an earlier novel. The history is fascinating, but the story is very episodic, although the last sixty pages are stronger once we get to the climax of the napoleonic age.

The prose is, as usual from terrance, supremely readable rather than great literature. And that's no bad thing.

If you're a diehard fan looking for a decent, uncomplicated read, then this may fit the bill
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on 5 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
Terrance Dicks is almost the elder statesman of Doctor Who novels. He’s been involved with the series, in one capacity or another, for almost forty years. In fact, many Who fans grew up with Dicks’ novelizations of the various episodes as their only Doctor Who reading. When the novels became a little more adult in tone, however, Dicks seemed to try too hard to change. He would either write continuity-heavy nostalgia pieces (Deadly Reunion) or he would try too hard to be edgy and write some really horrible stuff. So it was nice to see something like World Game, a nice historical piece with some interesting characters and a bit more adult content that doesn’t quite pass over into something that might be written by a sick uncle (though a couple of things did make me roll my eyes). It’s an average novel compared to most other Who books, but it’s decidedly one of Dicks’ best.
I’ll concentrate on the negative first, because I did really enjoy the novel and I’d like to end on a positive note. First, and the most minor, it wouldn’t be a current Terrance Dicks novel if there wasn’t a threatened assault against a woman in it. This is really becoming tiresome in Dicks’ novels, as if he thinks that’s the best way to be “edgy.” Thankfully, it doesn’t even come close to happening, but it still made me stop and say “not again, Terrance” when I hit that part.
Secondly, the prose and the plotting need a bit more work. Three times in the first thirty pages, a woman is described as either “startlingly beautiful” or with “startlingly blue eyes.” You really need to find another word, Terrance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good 'ol Terrance Dicks romp 17 May 2006
By Reuben Herfindahl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Good 'ol Terrance Dicks. We've all read way too much of his Target stuff, but he's always a fun read. Continuity ladded, and as all his books are, he always managed to tie to either the War Games or State of Decay. In this case, the book follows directly after the War Games and then ties into the Two Doctors (happily tieing off any continuity glitches that the latter introduced).

So the idea is that the ending of the War Games was a forgery, the Doctor is actually sentanced to death, but due to the intervention of the Celestial Intervention Agency (CIA), the Doctor is given an assignment that they don't want to dirty their hands with. The Doctor is paired up with another Time Lord (Serina) and sent back to see who is muddling with Earth history. He first travels back to 1915 to make sure history is back on it's right course, it's not. Although we learn nothing of what he does to fix it. Dicks merly inserts a comment to please read Players to see what happens. Then it's off to revolutionary era France and adventures with Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Nelson. The "Players" are manipulating history just for fun. They try in turns to kill all of the above, with the Doctor and Serna twarting every attempt. In the end, it all gets wrapped up nicely and the Doctor is on his way again, this time with Jamie (with suitably altered memories) leading right into the Two Doctors.

Yeah, it's an awful lot of fanwank, but Dicks know and loves Doctor Who's rich
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Again with the vampires 3 Jan. 2006
By Jason A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Make no mistake: this is the official canonization of "Doctor Who" Season 6(B). The (B), in case you were wondering, stands for (B)een There, Done That. Hmm, this should be a nice, simple explanation, and then once I've explained all that, I can get on with reviewing "World Game".

This is one of those rare original "Doctor Who" novels that exists almost solely to satisfy a fandom theory about a TV episode from 20 years ago. See, it helps to remember that Terrance Dicks started working on "Doctor Who" in 1968, and Robert Holmes joined up shortly after that. That's your cast of characters. Now, in 1969, Dicks helped invent the Time Lords, the Doctor's own people; he co-wrote the seminal (and fabulous) episode "The War Games", in which the Doctor is captured by the Time Lords, put on trial for interference in the affairs of others, forced to change his appearance, and exiled to Earth. That was the closing story to Season 6. Or, as we know it now, Season 6(a).

All right, not done yet. Flash forward to to Season 22 and Robert Holmes' "The Two Doctors", where an older version of the Second Doctor is seen acting as an agent of the Time Lord. "Officially, I'm here quite unofficially!", he tells a bemused scientist. So that led to the fandom theory of Season 6(B), published in book form in a mid-1990s oddity called "The Discontinuity Guide" which sought to tie most of "Doctor Who" into a snarkily unified continuity. The theory was that the Second Doctor, at the end of "The War Games", didn't get exiled right away -- he was allowed to keep his own body for a bit longer and have another series of adventures as a Time Lord agent, presumably for the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency), a sort of Time Lord, um, CIA, invented by Holmes back in the '70s.

OK, so that's the two-paragraph explanation. We'll add to that a Past Doctor Adventure called "Players", written by Dicks several years ago, in which the Second Doctor gets caught up in the life of Winston Churchill, also acting for the Time Lords while tangling with an odd bunch of celestial beings playing games with the course of human history, without the Doctor's own moral compass.

That sets up "World Game". As Dicks has shown a fondness for returning to his own creations again and again during the 15 years he's been writing DW novels, this book also features the return of the Vampires ("State of Decay", 1980; "The Eight Doctors", 1997) and the Raston Warrior Robot ("The Five Doctors", 1983; "The Eight Doctors") -- not doing anything original, but just to re-enact old scenes, ending exactly the way that you remember from the earlier stories.

The rest of "World Game" is an enjoyable romp, this time with the Second Doctor squaring off against the Players, and taking place during the Napoleonic Wars -- instead of Churchill, we get Napoleon, Talleyrand, Nelson and Wellington. Dicks loves his history, and he loves to write the Doctor talking about history, and that's most of the book.

Unusual for a recent Dicks book, there are some surprises that you wouldn't expect -- the late death of a major character comes as a surprise. Dicks writes in his usual direct style, with plenty of in-jokes and a lot of intrigue. The humor is broad and self-indulgent; coming in the year that the Russell T. Davies "Doctor Who" revival burned its way across TV screens, Dicks' writing style is perhaps far too much of a throwback to appeal to anything beyond the very limited reading audience for these books. Dicks isn't being so much an ambassador for "Who" as an old-time storyteller plowing on regardless of the audience. That said, Dicks does toss in a reference to -- a prop from -- the new series, so at least he is still keeping up.

Not recommended for beginners, but a nice throwback for those of us who still enjoy the old days. Less self indulgent than "The Eight Doctors" and the annoying "Warmonger", this may indeed be Dicks' best book since "Players".
A fun romp, if a bit simplistic 2 Mar. 2006
By Allyn Gibson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I can't quite recommend Terrance Dicks' Doctor Who novel World Game, but neither can I suggest avoiding the book. This is, after all, the long-awaited novel explaining Season 6B, so there's the natural fanwank element as a draw.

There are books that have intricate plots and uninspired writing, and books that have lazy plots and masterful writing. World Game is definitely in the former grouping. There's a great plot at work, but Terrance Dicks writes in such a dull, methodical manner that his prose sabotages at points the story he tells.

The Doctor sounds like Troughton most of the time. New companion Serena I pictured as being a bit like Cate Blanchett, though a decade younger. The Duke of Wellington, though, I don't picture as Stephen Fry. (When reading the Sharpe novels, I picture the Iron Duke as Fry, even though I know that in the Sharpe films David Troughton essayed the role.)

It's not quite a pure historical, but it's about as close as "The Marian Conspiracy" is.

There's a plot element, about two-thirds of the way through the book, that I didn't care for at all, because it's such a cheat when dealing with a time travelling protagonist. It's also something I just don't see the Doctor doing--jump forward in time far enough to see what happened, so he can go back in time and fix it. No, no, no! Yes, the Doctor does something similar in "Pyramids of Mars," but his reason there was to convince someone to help him by showing him the stakes. If that were the Doctor's purpose this time, fine, but instead it's portrayed as the Doctor just being lazy.

Overall, it's a goofy novel. It's not particularly serious, it's a bit episodic, and it's very readable, if a bit simply written. I'd call it average.
"I told Nappy to stay out of Russia...but he wouldn't listen" 5 Dec. 2005
By David Roy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Terrance Dicks is almost the elder statesman of Doctor Who novels. He's been involved with the series, in one capacity or another, for almost forty years. In fact, many Who fans grew up with Dicks' novelizations of the various episodes as their only Doctor Who reading. When the novels became a little more adult in tone, however, Dicks seemed to try too hard to change. He would either write continuity-heavy nostalgia pieces (Deadly Reunion) or he would try too hard to be edgy and write some really horrible stuff. So it was nice to see something like World Game, a nice historical piece with some interesting characters and a bit more adult content that doesn't quite pass over into something that might be written by a sick uncle (though a couple of things did make me roll my eyes). It's an average novel compared to most other Who books, but it's decidedly one of Dicks' best.

I'll concentrate on the negative first, because I did really enjoy the novel and I'd like to end on a positive note. First, and the most minor, it wouldn't be a current Terrance Dicks novel if there wasn't a threatened assault against a woman in it. This is really becoming tiresome in Dicks' novels, as if he thinks that's the best way to be "edgy." Thankfully, it doesn't even come close to happening, but it still made me stop and say "not again, Terrance" when I hit that part.

Secondly, the prose and the plotting need a bit more work. Three times in the first thirty pages, a woman is described as either "startlingly beautiful" or with "startlingly blue eyes." You really need to find another word, Terrance. Then, the Countess trusts somebody who apparently turns against the Doctor *way* too easily, which is very out of character for her. Of course, the counter-betrayal was so predictable anyway that it didn't really harm the book that much. Finally, the Players are immortal beings playing this game with humans, but they apparently don't have very good time travel, as the Countess wants the secrets of the Doctor's TARDIS. Unfortunately, the Countess also recognizes the Doctor from the game that was being played in 1915, which would seem to indicate that they are able to go to all time periods. Which is it?

That's about it for the negatives, though. While the prose is rather pedestrian, it more than serves its purpose and it has some interesting stuff in it. He seems to want to showcase his historical research, as he has the Doctor (or others) educating Serena about everything to do with Napoleon and the Napoleonic wars, as well as the French revolution. There is a *lot* of history packed into this book, and while occasionally it drags the book down when Dicks explains it, overall it was quite interesting. Unfortunately, the wealth of historical detail makes one of the non-historical details stand out even more. He references Sharpe (from Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series) by name, which completely threw me out of the book for a moment. Evidently, in Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe saves Wellington's life. Dicks has to namecheck him, which was really annoying. There's so much real stuff in here, why throw in a fictional reference? I guess Sharpe fans will be happy.

Dicks' characterization is pretty good in this book too. He usually gets the Doctor right, and this time is no exception, though he's not exceptional. I could see Troughton doing this, though it doesn't quite sound like him. The other characters are rather plain, but serviceable. Serena is exceptionally well-done, though. She starts off as the haughty Time Lady but is soon being almost as revolutionary as the Doctor is. The interplay between her and the Doctor is quite good, and is the best part of the book. Napoleon is done well too, and Wellington, though not quite as much.

It also wouldn't be a Terrance Dicks novel without references to two of his favourite television stories, with the appearance of the unkillable Raston Warrior Robot and the vampire (though I have to question whether this particular type of vampire actually exists in the Doctor Who mythos). Both of them are almost superfluous, though they do make for an exciting sequence or two.

With the interesting plot that Dicks gives us, it's almost a shame that there isn't really a lot of tension in the book (though this lack of tension does make the ending even more shocking, at least to me). Most of the sequences had all of the tension wrung out of them by the pedestrian prose. However, the plot itself was good enough to overlook that. If you're looking for the Terrance Dicks of old, World Game is probably the book for you. However, I wouldn't recommend it if you're new to the series. It's not *that* exciting.

David Roy
The special secret adventures of the Doctor, now with extra bonus denial of their existence 7 Oct. 2013
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
At this point good ol' Terrance is like comfort food, giving us a delightful alternative to anything resembling experimentation or outside the box thinking, a nice cut and dried "Who" adventure, the way they used to make it for Mum and Dad.

Only this time he's giving us a story that should only exist in the world of fan-fiction. What gives?

For those who don't follow all the nuances and intricacies of the many sideroads of fandom, there's a branch centering on the end of the Second Doctor's tenure that suggests our views of him saying "No no no no no!" a million times at the end of "The War Games" was not the last time he graced the winds of time. Instead, these theories suggests, the the Celestial Intervention Agency segment of the Time Lords decided to use him in the name of plausible deniability, sending him out to fix their messes and giving him just a little more time to be Patrick Troughton. This is buffered by "The Two Doctors", a Sixth Doctor adventure that showed a clearly older Second Doctor and Jamie getting involved, which the Second Doctor cheekily suggested was the result of the Time Lords and not writer Robert Holmes simply not giving a crap about a thing like continuity (he's also the reason we have the "twelve regenerations" rule that everyone treats like gospel now, something else he probably made up as a throwaway line) and probably not figuring that a generation of fans would spend a lot of time dissecting it and coming up with stories for that mystical "Season 6B", as it's commonly called.

And then comes the BBC with their own story of how "Season 6B" got started, implying that it now has the stamp of canon, though one should remember that the none of the books were ever treated as set in stone (otherwise we'd have to explain how the Doctor lives through the plot of "Human Nature" twice) and they sort of dumped the story in a line of books that was about to be terminated anyway. Besides they had their shiny new crew cutted Doctor at this point, whose every exchanged glance with Billie Piper would give the world of fan-fiction new purpose again. Who cares whether the black and white Doctor of 1969 immediately regenerated into a man with a flair for velvety clothes or stuck around to have adventures that no one will ever hear about?

For me, personally, there's more poignancy in having his trial immediately end in the Second Doctor's figurative death. Not only does it mark the end of an era in the show, as it went from black and white to color, but also a change in tone, as the previously mysterious Doctor suddenly gained a home planet and people and went from being everyone's favorite mad uncle to Technological Science Hero. On some level the Second Doctor doesn't belong on Gallifrey, it's too structured for his cunning. But here we are, nonetheless, so let's see what we have.

A lot of the story is spent in simply explaining how we got to this point, which seems to undermine the very reasons for it in the first place. The Time Lord CIA (also called "The CIA") decides to get some usefulness out of their renegade and letting him enable them to have their noninterventional crumpets and eat them too, allowing them to gloriously intervene while proclaiming a desire not to intervene. The Doctor, sentenced to become Jon Pertwee, agrees to it anyway.

Unfortunately this is an excuse for the author to bring back his Players, the reappearance of whom actually elicited a groan of dismay from me. I don't know why he finds these people interesting, with their silly motto that sounds like the third rejected draft of a self-help group, their interchangeability, their weird desire to only play their games in the parts of Earth's history that the author has researched and their inability to play by their own rules, cheating on each other the first time things don't seem to go their way. Frankly, it's impossible to figure out why the Time Lords just don't put a stop to this nonsense right away and instead engage in a bunch of hand-wringing about intervening. On the other hand, anything that happens really only stays local to Earth, so it's also difficult to see why they even care. The Doctor, yes, but the Time Lords could probably let Earth go hang for all they care. It's just one planet.

So the premise isn't exactly gangbusters. However, this one I have to say won me over just a little bit. Maybe it's because I like the Second Doctor, maybe it's because it's aims are ultimately so charmingly old-school or maybe it's because there's enough history in here you could learn something and since I read "War and Peace" four months ago I have a basic working knowledge of this period of history. Essentially the Players are attempting to ensure that Napoleon wins, which means taking out all his obstacles like Wellington and Nelson's fleet at Trafalgar (the battle of Trafalgar kind of takes out Admiral Nelson but if you're a marksman aiming for a one-armed, one-eyed guy in a captain's outfit probably wasn't difficult, though I do give that person credit since everyone presumably was on boats). But instead of manipulating the circumstances of history so that Napoleon can capitalize on missed opportunities (and thus be much harder for the Doctor to stop), instead they go for more conventional means like assassination with bombs and guns (which, again, considering how they aren't supposed to be involved in their own games, shows you how much they care about rules).

This means the Doctor and his Time Lady companion (filling in the usual role of the inexperienced young lady the Doctor has to keep explaining things to) have to shuffle from crisis to crisis (with stops at cafes in between), figuring out which next weird convoluted scheme will be enacted next (the Players helpfully dropping hints, like a cosmic Riddler) and getting to hang out with the originator of the Napoleon complex, along with other famous figures in history. The stakes are rather high and we get a glimpse of the possible risk of failure but in all fairness the Player don't and never have made memorable villains. As the Doctor even points out, with their only goal to play a game, they don't have even the poorly constructed plans of the War Lords. They simply make trouble for the sake of making trouble, without any real endgame or point to it. According to their own motto, they don't even care if they win or lose, so why not just buy them all copies of "Age of Empires" and be done with it?

A story like this does the Second Doctor a disservice. He operates best when he plays the infiltrator, the scruffy guy you underestimate and whose bumbling about covers the fact that he's got you cornered six ways until Sunday and has ensured you don't realize it until it's too late. All the jumping around to put out fires is entertaining but there's no long game here, they simply plugging away at stopping things until the Players are tired of playing, or the book is over. Yet I can't dismiss it entirely. The local historical color is fun and after spending my youth reading almost every Target novelization, Terrance's prose style is like that old song on the radio you let keep playing even though you've heard it a million times. It goes down easy and is over before you know it, with nothing challenging to get in the way. But it's so breezy and the period detail is well placed that even with the lack of depth (or point) it reads like a history lesson you don't quite mind, unless you hate history. It means and aims are so modest that it can hardly even muster up the energy to offend and when it's all done, you think "That was a right pleasant adventure" and put this novel aside to reach for something meatier. It's a nice way to pass a couple hours and if you go into it with that mindset, you'll do just fine.

Interestingly, it also marks the end of an era in a different way: the last novel from Terrance featuring any of the Past Doctors. He's done a couple novels since, mostly in the BBC's Quick Reads line, but those all feature the Tenth Doctor and chances are we won't see an old style story like this from him again. Which in itself is sad in a way. He may not be flashy but he's dependable in a manner that few things are and while I may never rank any of this books as my favorites, at least I knew what I was getting when I read them. And I'm not ashamed to say, that hasn't changed here.
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