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Celebration of the Cybermen
on 6 May 2013
The Cybermen often seem to work better when they're an insidious menace rather than invading the Earth with armies and space armadas, and for much of this story the Cybermen remain an eerie, disturbing threat in the background. Richards utilises them brilliantly, bringing them fully into the story with perfect timing. True, there are certainly similarities with `The Next Doctor' and `Closing Time' (Cybermen do tend to accidently crash their ships a fair bit) and there is a lot of heavy borrowing from the classic `Tomb of the Cybermen', but that is not necessarily a bad thing (a repeat of Cybermen slowly breaking through the membrane that covers their tombs is still effective and enjoyable). Occasionally the Cybermen are portrayed a little too much like zombies. However, this is easily done due to the similarities between the two and it does allow for some quite memorable and effective scenes.
It seems reasonable to assume that this book takes place, at least for the Doctor, sometime between `The Angels take Manhattan' and `The Bells of St. John', so there is no Clara. The companion role is fulfilled by Olga who, as an older, more mature `companion', seems to work quite well with the often childish attributes of the Eleventh Doctor. The Doctor himself is portrayed a little generically at times and one of the Doctor's other incarnations could easily have fitted into various scenes. This is often the more toned down and contemplative version of the Eleventh Doctor rather than `the mad a man with a box' act.
The book is quite light on other characters, many just making up the numbers, and most aren't particularly memorable. Humans augmented by cyber technology aren't that original now and this story offers no expansion of or different insight into such things. There are some good, almost Asimov-like moments of self-realisation though.
The vague love story forms a fairly indistinctive sub plot. Although it adds a bit of depth to the characters and their community it also feels a little superfluous.
The general plot itself lacks some originality but this is a solid Cybermen romp with said monsters doing what they do best. Richards delivers a tried and tested formula but does it exceptionally well. Many of the best Cybermen elements from across the show's history are present and Cybermen catch phrase type lines from both the Troughton and the modern era are included. This book is an ideal celebration of the Cybermen during the fiftieth anniversary.