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Steve White "Steve" (Peterborough, UK)

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Doctor Who: Autumn Mist
Doctor Who: Autumn Mist
by David McIntee
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Autumn Mist, 16 Jan 2014
Yay another novel by David McIntee and this time an Eighth Doctor one. I make no qualms about my love for McIntee, with his previous three Past Doctor Novels being entertaining reads. I adore the Eighth Doctor and I enjoy a novel set during World War 2 so I was hoping this would be one of the best.

Autumn Mist finds the TARDIS forcing it's crew to land in war torn Germany in 1944 and they quickly get separated. The Doctor joins one American troop and Sam another whilst Fitz has no choice but to join the SS As usual strange things are afoot, with bodies from various sides disappearing with no explanation, a mist which seems to cause time anomalies and both sides working with technology they couldn't possibly have had.

Almost from the word go Autumn Mist is a very bleak novel. World War 2 was very violent and bloody and McIntee wastes no time in bringing this fact home, with graphic descriptions of people being shot, killed, and blown up. Rather than feeling decadent, it fits the mood nicely.

The Doctor is well done given it's McIntee's first foray into the Eighth's era. To begin with he seems to be relying on the green velvet jacket and long curly hair but he soon finds his feet, delivering a good likeness of Paul McGann's Doctor. Fitz really gets into trouble when he is forced to join the SS and his characterization is exceptional. Sam has a rough time of it, but she didn't annoy me as much as she usually does.

The other human characters are all spot on. Obviously you have the Americans and the Germans fighting the war, so we see into the minds of both sides and there hopes and fears for the future and thoughts of loved ones back home. The "third side" however are all a bit flat, even the "bad guy", who never really seems a threat.

Autumn Mist is a an excellent novel. It may be my bias towards McIntee and the World War 2 era but I thoroughly enjoyed almost every page. The horrors of war are really made clear, whilst at the same time still delivering a sci-fi fix. Top stuff and highly recommended.

Doctor Who: Unnatural History
Doctor Who: Unnatural History
by Kate Orman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Unnatural History, 9 Jan 2014
Unnatural History is an Eighth Doctor Adventure by Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman which deals with the "Dark Sam" concept which has been hinted at previously. Blum and Orman are two of the most talented Doctor Who writers and actually managed to get me enjoying Sam back in their previous novel Seeing I so I was hopeful for more of the same.

Dark Sam is an alternative version of Blonde Sam who stayed in London, did lots of drugs, and now lives in a dirty bedsit, with a crappy job. Until this point in time nothing has been explained about her existence and the novel starts with the Doctor tracking down Dark Sam as Blonde Sam got caught up in an anomaly in San Francisco. On returning to San Francisco they meet up with Fitz who has been investigating unusual behaviour caused by the anomaly.

It turns out the anomaly was caused by the Doctor's "birth" at his regeneration in San Francisco and that Blonde Sam was possibly created from this. Now however the anomaly is at breaking point, only being held together by the TARDIS. To top off the troubles, a collector is after the Doctor and Dark Sam for his collection. I loved the concept of the Dark Sam storyline but the trouble is this brilliance of it is merged in with what can only be described as mess of concepts. Unnatural History seems to flit from one scene to another without explanation, some are really humorous, other deeply bleak.

The Doctor is well done which isn't a surprise given Blum and Orman's previous characterization in Vampire Science and Seeing I. He is worried about his TARDIS which he is using to contain the anomaly and the prospect of not being able to travel and being forced to settle down. Fitz is now in full companion mode, he seems used to the Doctor and has learned to deal with time travel and strange occurrences. Blum and Orman really write well for him, getting his insecurities and his attitude down perfectly. A lot of people seem to criticize his characterization here, but I found nothing wrong with it at all.

Obviously the novel is about Sam, and again the authors have managed to make her interesting. Dark Sam is a breath of fresh air, cigarettes, drugs, sex and an attitude to boot she really is the opposite of Blonde Sam and therefore so much better. She seduces the Doctor with ease, something Blonde Sam took an age to even try, and even beds Fitz. Blonde Sam isn't a good character, she's never felt right in the role, and never struck a chord with the readers. I'd liked to have seen more of her in the range.

Unnatural History also features a host of supporting characters but very few of them make sense, with only Faction Paradox being particularly interesting.

Unnatural History is an odd novel, at times it's brilliant and almost as good as Lawrence Miles's Alien Bodies, but at others it seems to lose its way and introduces us to concepts which just don't seem relevant to the story. I honestly went from thinking it was the best novel yet to hating it, to thinking it was brilliant again. Definitely one for fans of the Eighth Doctor novels only.

Doctor Who: Dominion
Doctor Who: Dominion
by Nick Walters
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Dominion, 2 Jan 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who: Dominion (Paperback)
Dominion is Nick Walters' first solo foray into writing Doctor Who novels so he had very little pressure on him to write a decent novel, but nonetheless manages to pull off something rather good.

The story of Dominion is fairly complex, but Walters puts it across in very simple terms. Basically there is a wormhole between Earth and the Dominion and it's up to the Doctor to put it right. Sam gets stranded in the Dominion, and the TARDIS is severely damaged, meaning what should be simple to fix, turns out to be not so. After a solid start Dominion does seem to stall somewhat throughout the middle section and the ending isn't as clear cut as I'd have liked, but still fairly enjoyable.

Walters has seemed to struggle a little with the 8th Doctor's character, and uses the lack of the TARDIS to explain this away. This didn't aggravate me as much as it did some fans, but his indecisiveness was slightly irritating. Sam is separated from the Doctor and Fitz for the majority of the novel and trapped in the Dominion. Sadly her bits fall flat as the totally alien Dominion just isn't my cup of tea. Walters is very descriptive, trying to paint this place clearly in your mind's eye, but I just don't care for this sort of environment, let alone this sort of environment with someone as irritating as Sam. Fitz doesn't get as big a role as he did in the preceding novel but portrayal is very good and he again gets thrust into an environment he obviously isn't comfortable with, with yet another woman in tow. Fitz's humour of previous books seems a bit lacking, but this isn't a massive thing.

For a first attempt Dominion is a very good novel and Walters has set the bar very high for his next novel. It is by no means the greatest Doctor Who novel to date, but neither is it the worst.

Doctor Who : " Revolution Man "
Doctor Who : " Revolution Man "
by Paul Leonard
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Revolution Man, 19 Dec 2013
Paul Leonard is my least favourite of the regular Doctor Who writers with both Genocide and Dreamstone Moon lacking to say the least. His story telling is very fragmented, he struggles to write for the Doctor (preferring to lock him up for the majority of his novels), and has an unhealthy obsession with animal/mineral entities. Therefore I wasn't looking forward to the prospect of Revolution Man, with only the prospect of Fitz spurring me on to read, however Paul Leonard has written a really good novel for once.

Revolution Man's main plot is the aforementioned Revolution Man changing history with the help of a drug, Om-Tsor. The setting is the late 60's which was a time of hippies seeking the ultimate high and also close the era where Fitz is from. Om-Tsor essentially lets you become a God, for as long as your trip lasts, and someone is using it to create chaos under the name of the Revolution Man. The novel is set over 3 years, with Fitz "living" through them normally, and this premise works really well. The ending isn't so great, I won't spoil it but needless to say it makes a 5 star review only 4 stars, and I was very disappointed in it after a truly brilliant novel.

The Doctor is very well done, which given Leonard's tendency to make him vanish for large periods was a rather pleasant surprise. That said he doesn't get a lot to do, but at least he is there. He seems to be enjoying having both Sam and Fitz to look after, and is in his element trying to solve the mystery of the Revolution Man. He also gets to do a lot in the TARDIS which is always nice.

Sam is also in her element, getting to meet a legendry anarchist who inspired her. Turns out he isn't exactly as she'd imagined he would be, but she still gets to argue social/political things with him. Later on she joins another group of fighters, albeit only undercover. To his credit Leonard has actually made Sam pretty interesting, nowhere near in the same league as Fitz, but she still isn't a chore to read like in some novels. Talking of Fitz the 60's setting works wonders for him as it's his close to his era and he actually gets to live it. His relationship with Maddie is also very touching. Fitz is a joy to read, portraying all the humanity under the sun, warts and all. This is only his third novel but already he's one of my favourite companions of all time.

Out of the three novels of his I've read Revolution Man is Paul Leonard's best work by far. The story telling is still fragmented, but as the novel covers three different years it actually works, the Doctor is actually given something to do and the lack of alien worlds means we don't have a sheep like alien race to contend with. Having Fitz around helps drastically, but I feel even without him, this novel would have still worked. The ending does ruin an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable novel though.

Doctor Who: Deep Blue
Doctor Who: Deep Blue
by Mark Morris
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Deep Blue, 5 Dec 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: Deep Blue (Paperback)
5th Doctor PDA's are usually fairly dull, mainly due to Peter Davison's mild mannered version of the Doctor. In order for the novel to be any good, it needs to have an interesting or powerful story to drive it (The Ultimate Treasure), otherwise it becomes boring (Zeta Major). As the author of Deep Blue, Mark Morris, gave us the brilliance that was The Bodysnatchers and I was hopeful for a decent story, I sort of got it.

The plot of Deep Blue revolves around an alien race landing in the sea and contaminating animals and human to spawn more of their race. People's bodies erupt when the alien emerges, and the resulting aliens like ripping limbs off and killing in brutal ways. It is safe to say that Deep Blue is a horror, which isn't to everyone's taste, myself included usually. As the story goes on it transpires that the vast majority of the humans in the book are slowly turning into the aliens, which is a nice touch, especially when you see the struggle to stay in control. Sadly the plot does stall a little at around the halfway mark, and it becomes a zombie novel, with the cast running away through deserted streets. I thought the ending was actually really well done. Yes it is all wrapped up a little too cleanly, but the big reveal as to the contaminations source was a good concept.

As previously mentioned the 5th Doctor is just dull in whatever guise he appears, that said Mark Morris does a good job of recreating his TV persona but he didn't really have much to recreate. Companion wise we have the mouthy Tegan and the slimy Turlough, as well as Mike Yates from UNIT who is actually a fairly decent companion for once. However once the rest of UNIT shows up he fades into obscurity as usual.

The alien race, the Xaranti, are a joke however.. They are also a group minded race, a plot point far overused in both the PDA's and the EDA's, and a race which seems to like gory killings for no real reason. The "infection" plot point is interesting, but the aliens themselves are not which is a shame. Likewise an alien which is a cross between a scorpion and a bull really isn't a sign of originality.

Deep Blue is an interesting horror story which is a lot better than it sounds on the cover blurb. It has some major strengths in its setting and characterization but parts of the plot and narrative do feel slow at times. It's not a must read by any stretch but it's entertaining nonetheless.

Doctor Who: The Wages of Sin
Doctor Who: The Wages of Sin
by David McIntee
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wages of Sin, 27 Nov 2013
The Wages of Sin is a Past Doctor Adventure written by my favourite Doctor Who author David McIntee, and features my favourite classic Doctor, the 3rd. Needless to say I was looking forward to this novel, despite its historical nature.

The story of The Wages of Sin revolves around Russia in the days preceding Rasputin's murder, with the Doctor and his companions caught up in things whilst trying to get the TARDIS back. As with most historical pieces the story is already written to some extent, and as such you know what's coming next. McIntee does manage to make it exciting and nerve wracking to the end however, with a Rasputin who refuses to die.

The Doctor is the 3rd, and McIntee does a good job of recreating him on the page, including a Bondesque martial arts fight on the top of a moving train. The companions are Jo Grant and Liz Shaw, which is nice to see them meet, but not really required for the story. I've always enjoyed McIntee's brand of fan wankery in the past but this one is bordering Gary Russell territory. That said both companions are done well, in what little time they do have on the page.

Historical pieces are always hard to judge in terms of other characters as the vast majority are real life people and The Wages of Sin is no exception. Initially there seems like a lot of characters to keep track of, but once the story starts flowing it becomes easy to know who is who. I do like the fact that Rasputin is portrayed as a good guy in essence. So little is known of him, other than reports by people who disliked him, that he may well have simply been misunderstood. The non-historical Kit Powell is a nice "male" companion for the Doctor who I'd like to see more of as the 3rd Doctor didn't really have any male companions outside UNIT.

The Wages of Sin isn't quite as impressive as McIntee's previous works in the range, but nonetheless still manages to entertain throughout. Well worth a read.

Doctor Who: Salvation
Doctor Who: Salvation
by Steve Lyons
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Salvation, 22 Nov 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: Salvation (Paperback)
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. The Gods are interesting "villains" in that they act upon mankinds desires and thoughts. So whilst not really evil, they have the power to destroy worlds, if that's what enough people desire. It's nice to see human behaviour being the true enemy, but it does feel a little wrong to not have an actual enemy.

Much like both of Steve Lyon's previous novels in the series (The Murder Game and The Witch Hunters), Salvation faithfully recreates the TV era of the day but unlike his previous works it is fairly slow paced at times, with few surprises and cardboard characters. What could have been a great novel turns out to be a little bit of a disappointment and very much a filler book in the range.

Saints Row The Third: The Full Package (PS3)
Saints Row The Third: The Full Package (PS3)
Offered by Gamexpress
Price: 19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saints Row 3, 12 Nov 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
The Saints Row franchise is the closest competition to the behemoth that is the GTA franchise, with the difference between the two being the levels of realism. GTAIV was as close to a living, breathing, virtual city as you could get, but it suffered from being too real. SR3 on the other hand is zany, crazy, and at times as far from reality as you could go. Neither game is bad, but likewise neither really shine.

Gameplay wise, Saints Row 3 offers nothing really new from it's predecessor. Stillwater is now Steelport, and there are 3 different gangs to destroy, but the core gameplay remains unchanged which isn't a bad thing. SR3 does jazz up rewards however, with each level unlocking more rewards you have to pay for. This is good as it means infinite run is obtainable by doing anything, you don't have to do a certain activity to get it. You also get to upgrade weapons, making them more powerful and have different effects. The downside to this system is that if you spend a lot of time doing side activities you end up with enough cash to buy yourself perks and weapons to obtain almost godly status before even touching the main missions.

The storyline is fairly similar to SR2 too, with the Saints having to fight to control Stillwa, sorry Steelport against rival gangs. Musically nothing much has changed either, The Mix is still the only radio station worth listening too, with all the others featuring mostly lesser known artists with the odd big name thrown in.

What does set SR3 apart from it's predecessor is the sheer silliness it descends into. SMG's which set enemies on fire, space ships with laser guns, hacking via a motorbike in a Tron-like style and guns which fire sealife are all pushing the realms of plausibility. Gaming is escapism, but I like my gaming to be reflect the era on show, we may as well have the Saints take on a giant dragon, or sprout wings and fly. SR3 also takes the sexual content to new depraved heights, nudity is common place and the game spends lot of time in sex dens with bondage equipment strewn all over, you can even wield a giant rubber dildo as a weapon. Moderate usage of sexual imagery is tolerable, but SR3 seems to be trying to shock, so the effect is diminished.

As this is the full package you get lots of extra cosmetic and vehicle items, and 3 pieces of content DLC. Sadly all 3 pieces are lacking to the point that calling them content could be slanderous. Each one will take you roughly 45 minutes to complete, as you're almost god like by this point. I honestly spent longer flying around grabbing the collectables.

In short Saints Row 3 is pretty much more of the same you've come to expect from the series. It isn't quite as good as SR2, but it is still a fun little game which will while away a few hours.

Doctor Who: Infinity Doctors
Doctor Who: Infinity Doctors
Price: 2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Infinity Doctors, 12 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Infinity Doctors is a Past Doctor Adventure featuring the Doctor. No idea which as Lance Parkin has deliberately left this ambiguous. Fan rumours have set this as a pre-Unearthly Child Hartnell, a novel featuring The Other or a late McGann era book. Parkin himself has apparently alluded to the latter in Father Time, and in his own guide to Doctor Who chronology, setting The Infinity Doctors after The Gallifrey Chronicles.

The story of The Infinity Doctors is primarily a Gallifrey lore one, albeit one which may or may not be happening in current continuity. It focuses on the Doctor, now part of the Council on Gallifrey, playing peacekeeper in a war between the Rutan and the Sontarans whilst an artefact near the very end of time threatens to destroy all life throughout the universe and time itself.

The Infinity Doctors contains a lot of science fact and fiction. We are treated to astronomy, psychics and time travel theory, some of it a little heavy going at times and I did find myself skimming those bits a little. All of it is very well written though, and it's always better to have things explained, rather than just left for us to assume.

Whilst a nice idea the lack of solidity in the time frame just serves to confuse matters and really puts a dampener on things if continuity and Gallifreyan history is your thing. Yes you can view The Infinity Doctors as a big "what if?" but it's nice to have some sort of clarity, especially as Parkin creates a startlingly good representation of Gallifrey and goes on to write the pivotal The Gallifrey Chronicles. A few tweaks to the time frame and a definite McGann Doctor would have made this novel complete. That said if you are able to leave your annoyances with continuity at the door and accept it for what it is, The Infinity Doctors is a very well written piece of work which rewards loyal fans of the series. Casual fans might find it a little much though.

Appetite For Destruction
Appetite For Destruction
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Appetite For Destruction, 1 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This album is 25 years old yet still sounds as fresh and as vital to me now, than it did in the mid-90's when I first heard it. You've probably all heard "Sweet Child O Mine", "Paradise City" and "Welcome to the Jungle" so know how good GNR were. The rest of the album is more of the same, with not one track being deemed filler. "Nightrain" is my personal standout track, but you're hard pushed to choose.

If you like metal and rock music and you havn't heard Appetite for Destruction then you are doing yourself a massive diservice.

I don't see this album getting old for at least another 25 years. Never bettered, and no other bands come close (although Crashdiet's - Rest In Sleaze was almost there).

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