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4.2 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice
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on 2 September 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm not generally a huge fan of tie-in fiction. Some of that is probably snobbery on my part, but my experiences in the past haven't been great. However, I like Doctor Who and have been enjoying Stephen Baxter's novels for a long time.

Stephen Baxter is, of course, better known for his hard-SF novels whereas - though Who isn't a total stranger to real world science - let's face it, it's not known for attempting to remain faithful to real world physics. I had read that Michael Moorcock, when writing his entry in this series, had written a Jerry Cornelius novel and shoe-horned the Doctor in. That was always a danger with this. I am pleased to report, though, that Baxter has largely avoided this particular trap.

Wheel of Ice features the (Second) Doctor, Zoe and Jamie on the moons of Saturn. Lured by a disturbance in the timeline, the TARDIS keeps them there until they can find out what has happened. The feel is very much like that of late 60s who - the confines of a base besieged by an army of blue dolls, the disbelieving and venal power. It's updated with bio-robots and sophisticated 3D printers to make it feel a little more believable that we are seeing a space colony in the future.

He also paints a reasonable picture of how space colonisation might be achieved, using the detritus of old space exploration and warfare.

The characterisation is limited by the need to stick to the characters we know and love from the old series, so Baxter only really has room to develop character through those he creates for this story. Most are OK, though I have to admit the Glaswegian AI seemed a little ... odd, perhaps not as humorous as it had been intended?

One complaint is it does spend a little more time referencing 60s Who stories which had preceded this (and possibly some things we found out about after Troughton's time as Who). I know some will like this, but bear in mind that constant referencing of old Who in the 80s was did hamper it a little.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In this really interesting series of hardback novels in which already-established authors take on the Doctor Who universe, Stephen Baxter does what J.T. Colgan and Dan Abnett successfully did, and what only Michael Moorcock failed to do- to write a story which is Doctor Who first, and their own style second. Baxter doesn't try anything unexpected- he just gets on with telling a really strong Doctor Who story, and doing it well.

"The Wheel Of Ice" is a grown-up second Doctor novel through and through. It has many of the themes that were handled in the Troughton area- frontier exploring humans, themes of isolation, of unknown lurking alien menace, of cold and ice. In fact it owes a very large amount to the classic-but-mostly-missing story "The Wheel In Space", as it is set in an era just before Zoe's- and it happens to be set on a wheel, in space (though there aren't any Cybermen in this one). But that's not to say that it's derivative, as it's not.

The three regular characters are portrayed brilliantly and completely believably. Jamie and Zoe both get their time in the limelight and their appearances stay really true to their TV series personas, but run a bit deeper, allowing them more time to be three-dimensional. A large compliment of supporting characters, though sometimes one-dimensional and predictable, are juggled with confidence. The children, in particular, have a very moving story.

The sci-fi aspects are a really well-handled blend of the 1960s vision of the future (which the second Doctor era revelled in) and modern science, without ever seeming too anachronistic or over-complex.

An extremely readable Who novel that had me gripped from beginning to end. Definitely the best so far in the 'grown-up' series, and if like me you were a fan of the BBC novels between about 1996 and 2005 (when it was assumed that the novels were for older readers, not five-year-olds), then you'll really enjoy this, is this is up there with the best of those.
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on 22 October 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There have been many, many Doctor Who novels over the years, written by a vast array of authors from not so talented amateurs through to the higher end of the scale. A lot have been pretty good, some fairly poor and a select few that have scaled the heights; and this is one of the latter.

I'd never read anything Stephen Baxter had written before this so can't compare it to his other work, nor would I want to; Doctor Who is a different beast. Whereas most DW novels are certainly adequate in being able to connect to fans, it takes something special for a novel to feel genuinely authentic and not just hitting the right spots like ticking off a checklist. I wasn't around when Patrick Troughton portrayed the second Doctor, but I have seen every remaining episode (and listened to the rest) at least twice and have grown to really like his incarnation and this just feels right.

Because of the obvious inconsistencies of Doctor Who novels I'm never expecting too much other than a good read of more adventures of one of my all time favourite characters and maybe because of my less than stellar expectations I absolutely loved The Wheel of Ice.

Others have touched on the plot, but I prefer not knowing and you might too so I'll leave the spoilers elsewhere. I don't expect Stephen Baxter to write any more DW novels but I can only hope the next authors to take up the challenge can match his efforts. A+
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Fans of Baxter will appreciate The Wheel of Ice as another excellent novel. This is not written as a "children's book" any more than other Sci-Fi is written for adults, but all too often in recent years the Doctor Who range of books has been written-for and marketed-at the children's book-shelves. It is a refreshing change to have a master of Sci-Fi writing an intelligent story with authority.

Troughton's Doctor - the second Doctor - is no "celeb" doctor but a complex paradox whose wit an intellect come through in story. He relates well with the other characters in the story and his voice comes through clearly.

An excellent and engaging story, based in an alien world, the story flies along. Baxter's writing is, as ever, descriptive and detailed, but never boring. He is a master of Sci-Fi writing, and here he writes at his best.

A real page-turner, this is a step-change in the Doctor Who book range. Intelligent, well written and thought provoking I loved this novel.

The hard-back format of the novel is beautifully produced, and the typeface is ideal for younger readers getting used to "adult" books.

Five stars.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A Doctor Who book that is written by one of the best Sci-Fi writers around at the moment, what is not like.

Perhaps wisely he chose to avoid the modern Doctors (David Tenant, Matt Smith, etc.) and went for the second Doctor, potrayed by Patrick Troughton(Who would most likely have been Stephen Baxter's Doctor in the same way that it was Tom Baker for me). Now I am too young to remember him from the TV show but the characters all have a roundness to them, and from the brief episodes that I have seen on UK Gold they seem to fit well.

The story itself is a perfect reflection of what Doctor Who has been for years, where he is there to try and help us get past of fear and greed and get to a better version of ourselves. A damaged alien presence interacting with humans in ways that lead to grave consequences, and the fight of a frontier civilisation trying to break itself from the shackles of the corporate world.

Altogether a highly enjoyable book where I could almost see the wobbly carboard scenery and aliens in blue morph suits. Top notch.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Doctor Who revival has resulted in an increase in the amount of novels and books published under the brand name. There is a worry that in an attempt to "cash in" on the brand and popularity that stories will be released which are of poor quality and really just a story with the Doctor tagged into it. Fortunately this is no such book and will appeal to both teenagers and adults.

It is well written, with a very good plot. It is a real page turner; with great attention to detail such as the use of colloquial Scots spoken by one of the main characters (although I have to admit that it is a bit strange at first, especially when surrounded by grammatically correct English). There are a lot of chapters in this book, with some chapters only a couple of pages long. This makes it easy to pick up and put down, however it also means that you may end up reading for a lot longer than you expected as it is too tempting to read just another small chapter!

Overall, this book is highly recommended. Or as Jamie would say - "It's awffy guid".
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VINE VOICEon 8 August 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Haven't read any science fiction for decades, so unfortunately had not heard of Stephen Baxter. I prefer non-fiction (New Scientist etc). This book was so good I read it in a day and immediately downloaded an anthology of his onto my Kindle. Absolutely top notch science fiction - I'd been missing something!!!

It took me back to when I first watched Dr Who, the second doctor.

But the greatest joy was the masses of hard science in there! Stephen obviously reads New Scientist, as much latest scientific thinking and trends are right there in his books, forming the background to his stories. He has particular interest in machine intelligence and consciousness. But I don't want to give too much away!

This book should encourage a new generation into science, engineering, technology and computing - not to mention current science fiction!

The hard-cover book itself is of good quality printing and binding.

Many thanks to Amazon for sending me a first-edition, first-printing, one to treasure!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 September 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What do you get if you cross "The Wheel in Space" with "The Ice Warriors"? "The Wheel Warriors"? Nope. "The Ice in Space"? Try again. "The Space Warriors"? No, silly - it's "The Wheel of Ice", of course!

Following on from "Shada", BBC Books gives us another chunky hardback featuring a classic series Doctor, and this time it's a completely original novel rather than a novelisation - the first such publication since 2005! The TARDIS crew on this occasion is from the end of the 1960s monochrome era: the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. I must be honest and say that Stephen Baxter's dialogue for the Doctor often does not sound much like Patrick Troughton to me, though the general characterisation is correct: compassionate, but with a hard-edged streak when the situation demands it. Jamie and Zoe come across well, though the former's accent is stronger than it tended to be on television.

The author throws in numerous casual references to aspects of the "Doctor Who" universe, particularly from Zoe's time aboard the TARDIS. There are allusions to "The Wheel In Space" (the fuel source bernalium is a major plot point, and meson shields and the Pull Back to Earth movement are also mentioned), "The Mind Robber" (the surface of Titan reminds Jamie of the landscape of the Land of Fiction, and Zoe recalls the comic-strip adventures of the Karkus), "The Invasion" (the Cybermen and UNIT) and "The Seeds of Death" (the Ice Warriors and T-Mat). In honour of Kit Pedler, the scientist who provided ideas for several 1960s storylines and co-created the Cybermen, Baxter includes a phenomenon known as pedleron particles.

The fact that both the Mnemosyne Cincture and the station where the Doctor first met Zoe are called Wheels is never commented upon in the book. Indeed, Baxter goes out of his way never to refer to Space Station W3 by its informal designation, the Wheel, which was used throughout "The Wheel in Space". However, it is possible that after the Mnemosyne Wheel made such a name for itself, the term became common parlance for any vaguely circular space station or colony.

You may have gathered by now that I came to this book as a "Doctor Who" fan rather than a Stephen Baxter aficionado, but I also enjoyed the hard science the author brings to the mix. The book incorporates a fascinating tour of Saturn's rings and satellites, including the icy Enceladus and the disconcertingly Earth-like Titan. After perusing such passages, I would frequently find myself going online to read more about these wonders of the Solar System (but not Mnemosyne, which is a made-up moon). Many of these sequences are seen through Jamie's eyes, thus ensuring that everything is explained in terms that non-scientists will grasp. They also involve plenty of interplanetary peril, which balances the intrigue and political machinations that take place on the Mnemosyne Cincture.

The author never allows his up-to-the-minute scientific knowledge to undermine the imagination of the Swinging Sixties. If it was shown or mentioned on the telly, then it is part of the "Doctor Who" universe, including Z-Bombs, taranium, and time-travel done with mirrors. If it seems far-fetched, it is worth remembering that in this version of reality, the British space programme reached Mars and Jupiter during the 20th century, so it is no giant leap to assume that there will be a colony at Saturn by about 2050. Where possible, though, Baxter grounds this stuff in reality or believable theory - surprisingly, the flying car depicted in a flashback to around 2010 is a real vehicle!

The secret that lies at the heart of Mnemosyne perhaps owes a little to "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", but for the most part "The Wheel of Ice" is a diverting amalgamation of cutting-edge science and the adventurous spirit of the Sixties. Wheelie nice.
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on 27 September 2012
I came into this book not having read anything by Stephen Baxter so I didn't know what it expect.
Let me say he has done a damn fine job. This is a really good story that bubbles along and builds up to a really good climax and a pleasing conclusion.
This, the Doctor, Jamie & Zoe are my favourite TARDIS team & the writer had got them spot on.
You can almost here the voices of Pat Throughtom, Wendy Padbury & Frazier Hines coming off the page.
If your a Dr Who obsessive like myself you will enjoy spotting the references to older story's.
Like the new series they are (mostly) fleeting & don't spoil your enjoyment if you don't recognise them.
I spotted Talons of Weing-Cheing, Black Orchid, Seeds of Death, Evil of the Daleks & The Silurians. Don't get wrong though this is not a reference heavy story.
My only minor disappointment was I didn't feel Jamie was in the story enough.
All in all a cracking, really cool read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I loved this book and I'm not even a huge Dr Who fan. Well, not of the current Doctor. As a small-ish child one of my first TV crushes was Jamie McCrimmon, (Frazer Hines), the Second Doctor's Scottish assistant, and I suspect I wasn't alone. I remember being particularly upset when Jamie was returned to Earth with his memory wiped and no chance of a comeback with the Third Doctor. He's here again with his character intact. Woo-hoo! Stephen Baxter has recreated his voice, along with Patrick Troughton's and Wendy Padbury's. I suppose I should mention them...
What lifts this above the usual TV-tie in is the sheer quality of the writing. Stephen Baxter is a fine sci-fi writer and this book is completely outside the cliche-ridden formulaic Doctor books of recent years (I buy those for my grandchildren.)
The story itself is a real page-turner, it's difficult to describe it without inserting spoilers. We're on an alien world, with our heroes under siege... it's classic.
Older children will appreciate this, but this is definitely in the adult /cross-over category. Highly recommended.
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