on 8 April 2006
The biggest advantage of Doctor Who in book format is that it is unrestrained by budget or taste, and unsurprisingly certain authors have run wild with the possibility and ramped up the gore. Storm Harvest is a prime example - it's essentially Doctor Who meets Aliens via Jaws. Although fantastic fun and often tense and exciting, the book's kid-in-a-candy-store glee at being allowed blood and guts often leads to flying limbs and schlocky excess.
The tale of the Doctor and Ace trying for a holiday on the pleasure-world of Coralee and finding, sadly, that ancient monsters are being awoken, is not an especially new one in Doctor Who. Still, the traditional format merely allows for some expert storytelling, and the monsters in question - the Krill - are amazing creations. Handily designed and pictured on the cover by effects man Mike Tucker, the relentless beasts make mockeries of the Daleks. They're unstoppable, and would have been unrealisable on screen. When they attack en masse, I got the distinct image of an eye-bleeding CGI monstrosity. But again, it's a book, so we don't need to think about things like that.
It's all amazingly visual stuff, from the typically gripping opening scene to the last. Particularly well realised are the Doctor and Ace, still reeling from the events of Matrix (so now I have to go and read it...). It's times like this I realise what above-average characters they were on television: McCoy's Doctor looked the part more than most of the others, and his otherworldly genius and gentleness come across completely. Similarly Ace, once the stroppy teenager, has come a very long way but is still recognisably good old Sophie Aldred. It's no wonder Perry and Tucker stick to their favourite duo, as there's so much mileage left in them.
Occasionally it does cross the line - there is an apt nod to Mark Morris at the start, whose book Deep Blue was just as joyfully bloody and unpleasant - but for an unrelenting thrill-ride of a novel, you can't do much better. This would have been the Doctor Who of McCoy's life, and it remains a vastly entertaining, if slightly self-indulgent little gem.
on 1 August 2000
Sitting down to read the third BBC Doctor Who novel featuring the 7th Doc and Ace and written by Robert Perry and Matt Tucker, I took in a deep breath, and prepared to be disappointed. How could my favourite Doctor Who writing team succeed in producing a third fantastic book? "Illegal Alien" was so well written I finished in one day, then started at the beginning and read it again, and "Matrix" so beautifully poignant and frightening I was thinking about it for months to come. Two very different and very good books seemed unlikely to be succeeded by a third.
I'm delighted to say that all my fears were unnecessary. "Storm Harvest" is a fantastic read, once again different in structure but consistent in style and fitting perfectly with the other novels, and indeed the era on TV.
Ace and the Doc have decided to have a well-earned holiday on the beautiful aqua world of Coralee, when strange creatures in the water wreck a ship to bits and massacre all but one of the crewmembers. Taking the initiative that "something's wrong", the Doc as usual starts "making enquiries" while Ace's interest is caught on one of the young men working on a tourist vessel. Needless to say something is "definitely in the water" as the tourist vessel that Ace boards almost suffers a similar fate to the first ship, and mystery deepens in an underwater excavation...
It is a testament to the authors that even the introductionary chapters depicting Ace and the Doc enjoying the start of their holiday (before the inevitable chaos) were so well written that I didn't want them to end.
So well written are the characters of the 7th Doctor and Ace that the authors' obviously love and so well paced is the adventure that you can picture it all in pin-point detail. Together with some brilliant ideas like talking dolphins who walk in exo-skeletons and animatronic credit cards (ideas that in other author's hands would be incomprehensible) and an ingenious new alien race - The Krill - and you have yourself one hell of a novel.
I look forward to future projects from these authors.
on 24 September 1999
I chose to buy Storm Harvest because I was about to go on holiday and the back cover blurb sounded perfect. Holiday planet, blue seas, white sands etc. And the planet of Coralee did initially prove to be a wonderful evocation of my own beach life on an island in the Med. However as always there is trouble in paradise. The Alien-esque Krill are starting to hatch out on a reef out at sea and soon the whole planet is threatened by these voracious monsters. This is Doctor Who by numbers - isolated outpost, mysterious protagonist, small band of humans, deadly monsters - all of which make it a fairly formulaic read. But then on the other hand the book is cleverly constructed. The Krill, like Ridley Scotts' Aliens, have a defined lifecycle (egg, hatch - impossible to destroy - almost) and are potential pawns in the hands of the unscrupulous. The plot has a beginning, a middle and an end and is therefore ultimately satisfying. There are several minor characters that are clearly more interesting than the two-dimensional front-runners - particularly the weak human slaves who languish aboard an orbitting spaceship and the dolphins (yes-dolphins!) who power around on exo-skeletons and regularly comment on the action. There is even an evil dolphin - who is quite superb ! Don't expect Storm Harvest to philosophise, or provide you with a life-changing experience, because you will be disappointed. Just sit back and enjoy an easy read. The best moment which I tried in vain to emulate on my beach was the Doctor's attempt to create a gigantic City of the Exxilons sandcastle complete with flashing beacon !
on 9 February 2001
A thrilling action-packed read with many memorable sequences and an excellent and interesting race of vicious alien monsters in the Krill. The Doctor and Ace are particularly well characterised too and the storyline is simply overflowing with sinister subplots. I did feel that a few things were left a little unclear however, such as where the Krill had been previous to this, and how exactly the Cythosi fitted in to the scheme of things, I also felt the religious subplot to be rather irrelevant and unnecessary. Otherwise however, a great read and some wonderfully inventive ideas fron the team. Great!
on 7 February 2014
Storm Harvest is a 7th Doctor PDA, which is serial 3 in Mike Tucker and Robert Perry’s self-styled series 27, following on from Illegal Alien and Matrix. Personally I loved Illegal Alien but felt let down slightly by Matrix so I didn’t really know what to expect from this.
The main premise of Storm Harvest is an ancient alien genetically made life form is reawakened and sets about terrorizing a group of islands. There really is nothing more to it than that, it’s a classic base under siege type story and it works surprisingly well.
Tucker and Perry proved in both Illegal Alien and Matrix that they know how to write for both the 7th Doctor and Ace and nothing has changed here. Little things like question mark handled spades and references to Courtney Pine show some real love and devotion to this period of the shows history and make the novel all the more enjoyable. My main niggle with the 7th Doctor PDA’s (and yes that includes The Hollow Men) is that the authors insist on splitting the Doctor and Ace up for vast chunks of the novel. Whilst it’s nice to have two plotlines going on separately, it’s also nice to see the Doctor and his companion work together, and luckily Tucker and Perry keep the main leads together for the vast majority of Storm Harvest. Talking of Ace she is done really well, obviously matured but still the same old Ace we know and love. Her bits with the Doctor coming to terms with what happened to them in Matrix was also very well done.
Other cast wise, things are not so great. There are some good ideas like speaking dolphins, but they are overwhelmed by run of the mill characters usually found in Doctor Who novels. Colony leader in over her head, dodgy second in command obviously under alien control, random nobodies to give a face to the senseless killings etc. etc. The one character of note is the confused Garrett whose actions I didn’t see coming, the rest just fade into the background. The main alien threat, the Krill, are interesting, however having them almost invulnerable makes reading the “fight” scenes fairly boring as you know no matter what is thrown at them they will survive. The other alien race, the Cythosi, have been done to death and offered absolutely nothing new.
In short Storm Harvest is an above average novel, which delivers what you want from a Doctor Who novel. It isn’t game changing in anyway, and a lot of the action you’ve seen / read before, but it still satisfies somewhat making it a pretty good read.
on 12 June 2009
Where to start? To be honest, I thought this book was flawless and is most definitely one of the best books I have ever read in any genre.
The Krill are a devastating, but wonderful invention and are used to the absolute hilt, unlike them taking an almost secondary cameo spot during the Big Finish Audio "Dust Breeding". (Such a waste of a wonderful enemy)
Anyway, back to the book. There were very few moments to catch your breath when reading this book, but when the chances did arise they were filled with such beautifully crafted character moments that it just didn't feel like it was supposed to serve as a temporary lull for the reader.
In all honesty, I would loved to have seen a story like this on-screen and more than just a four part story as well. A whole season worth would have been fantastic - chuckle.
To be completely honest, I'm not sure I can recommend this to those who are venturing into reading about the Seventh Doctor and Ace for the first time, simply because, for me, a fair few of the other novels pale significantly in comparison to this one.
But.... Oh well, what the heck! This book gets the highest of recommendations from me. It is truly a rollercoaster ride of a book. It is exhilarating, slickly written with two intelligent enemies to contend with and as with the other Mike Tucker/Robert Perry Doctor Who books this one is also filled with several three dimensional, fully formed characters, including some dolphins.
All in all, I think this book should be in everyone's Doctor Who book collection, even if the 7th Doctor and Ace are not your favourite Companion and/or Doctor.
on 15 April 2011
The partnership that wrote two very enjoyable Seventh Doctor and Ace novels takes a dip in form with this all guns blazing Aliens v Predator type. The Black Horse series that this book tries to emulate had the vivid images, sounds and tensions evoked by the films to colour the readers imaginations both in comic form and and the novelisations. Storm Harvest has none of that to fall back on and despite Mike Tucker's model of the Krill it's very hard to touch readers fear nerves without actually being able to visualize these monsters. Fear and the sense of threat was and still is the staple ingredient of any Black Horse offering. Storm Harvest doesn't have it.
The opening few chapters remind me a little of Alan Dean Foster's Commonwealth series and indeed the authors drop in a throw-away line mentioning the word Cachalot which was a book from that series set on an ocean world. It's much lighter than the other two books from Tucker and Perry with quite a few amusing lulls in the action. A cigar chomping dolphin just has to make you smile.
Strange how the book tries to put a few years onto Ace whilst attempting the world record for the number of times she says "Wicked!" in one novel.
It's a book that is better than quite a bit of the competition but doesn't match up to the standard the two authors had previously set.