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The Best Original Doctor Who Novel For Years.
on 25 July 2012
After having spent the last seven years having to make do with Doctor Who books that a two year old wouldn't find challenging, it's finally back to the subject matter that made the books such a success in the first place, the classic series.
The Virgin and BBC ranges of the '90's were the pinnacle of the Doctor Who novel and The Wheel of Ice fits that tonal feel that those prior books had.
A couple of years ago it was decided to do a series of hardback novels based on Doctor Who that were written by more mainstream science fiction authors, rather than the usual group that were used in the past. They have had mixed results because the authors have fallen into the trap of using hard sci fi concepts and shoehorning the Doctor and co into them, in short, they are not really Doctor Who books at all, despite being well written.
This one is different. It actually feels like the era in which it is set, Troughton's final year.
I'm not going to go into plot, as I hate spoilers and I'm sure most people do too. But briefly, the story is set on a moon within the rings of Saturn, where by there's a human colony set up to mine for minerals. The story is set in the late 21st Century, so the technology of the humans is very much in the dank, dark and fairly primitive stage rather than Star Trek' Enterprise high tech look. The TARDIS has been brought here by a temporal disaster that is somehow linked to an amulet that is worn by a sixteen year old girl, which has been in her family for centuries. There's sabotage and murder on a regular basis and the base has been infiltrated by a race known as the Blue Dolls, whose existance is denied by the authorities.
As said, the tone of the piece is very much in keeping with the TV equivalent and one can actually visualise Troughton, Hines and Padbury in the parts of the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, and the book even has the single element that made the Troughton years so memorable, the 'base-under-siege' scenario.
There are wonderful descriptive space scenes and fascinating background passages detailing the history of the amulet, which do not interrupt the flow of the story, but rather add to it.
This is, without a doubt, the best single Doctor Who novel since, at least, 2005 and proves that, as good as the new series is, there's nothing quite like the classic era of the show, for great characters and fantastic stories.
I hope that this is going to become the first in a line of new novels set in the eras of the first eight Doctors, one thing's for sure, if they are half as good as this, we are in for a treat.
Absolutely, and wholeheartedly, recommended.