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on 24 August 2013
About the Author:

You'll find more on Alex on my Blog ([...] I write about what I like so the same writers do tend to come up. I found out about Alex because I read his brother's books. Alex and Simon share a website & Forum. So I come to this book as a Alex Scarrow fan and a Doctor Who fan.

Alex is the author of the Young Adult series TimeRiders. I'm a huge fan of the series, who cares if I'm not a YA, I'm 45. Anyone that likes Dr Who would probably find Time Riders very entertaining. You can read more in the articles TimeRiders Series So far (books 1-6), TimeRiders Book 7 and Interview with Alex Scarrow. Book 8 in the series TimeRiders: Mayan Prophecy is out now.


Set in the present day, the Doctor sets down in the desert a few hundred metres off the Highway, near one of those one-diner kind of towns that are near nowhere. Though I guess we aren't too far from Roswell... as the Doctor recollects,

Something is here and the Doctor knows it is here. Something he has prior knowledge of, something that will destroy all life on Earth because it is here 50 years too early...

This is the Eighth Doctor, travelling alone. Though he does pick up a friend along the way, as he is prone to do. So there is less random energy one might expect from Doctors Ten or Eleven. Less seriousness, interspersed with glee that you might find with Doctor Nine.

The Doctor is more matter of fact and open, similar to how he was in the film when talking to Grace. He doesn't pull the psychic paper and there is no sonic screwdriver saving the day,

It is a short story, but fully formed with the traditional pattern of a Doctor Who Story - the Doctor arrives, encounters the issue and makes himself known, he investigates and a solution is found. That might seem obvious but some short stories don't always feel complete; this story does.

It would be interesting to see what Alex came up with for a full length Doctor Who novel. Though he is perhaps a little too busy with TimeRiders and his other YA series Ellie Quin.

As this is a Puffin book it is appropriate for a wide age range, including children. There are an earlier 7 books in this series by other authors and 3 more to come.
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on 1 September 2013
Some of the best Doctor Who stories of the year have turned up in this series of slim novellas aimed at the same audience as the TV Show. This is the best, but it's a neat tale with an X-Files feel that follows on nicely from the Eighth Doctor's sole television outing. A small town has been wiped out by a virus that will threaten all life on Earth if a certain time traveller doesn't intervene. It's grisly in places, but to excellent effect.
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on 12 November 2014
A very creepy story..I thought..The Doctor is alone..ends up the the Navada Desert in the present day..saying he has been sent by U.N.I.T.He meets Major Platt,who tells The Doctor about a pathogene he already suspects he knows about..Noone survives once it gets hold..but in his investigations..The Doctor does meet a survivor..The tone to this story was excellent..The Doctor is always in control..He is cool and calm and written perfectally..I liked The major and Captain Evelyn Chan..You really feel the atmosphere of the story as its set at night..Which to me made The Spore even more dangerious and menacing..It was more a mental battle than a phisical one against The Doctor and The Spore..which worked very well..and as in all these stories you could hear the dialouge being spoken..Paul McGann I could clearly hear speaking..Brilliant and more is what I would say about this story...Another recommended Doctor Who ALL fans.
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on 13 May 2015
This short - chapter Eight of 12 DOCTORS, 12 STORIES - is easily one of the finest ever moments in Whovian literature. Metaphorically, one could say it is a classic, quintessential fable, which is perfectly poised over a near infinite chasm, forming a link between Mount Gore, and Mount Speculation. It starts out as not completely dissimilar to Stephen King's THE STAND and there are certainly similarities but the origin of a sudden and inexplicable air-borne disease is clearly defined as extra terrestrial. The story is creepy, and compelling. And brilliant. The Doctor soon finds himself as the only way to save the entire human population on Earth from an early demise and remarkably, the TARDIS does not make an appearance!

I shall say no more of the plot (it is only a short story, after all!) but this is as good as it gets. Trust me.

BFN Greggorio!
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on 4 December 2013
I just felt this story was too familiar. The small American town where `something bad' had happened, the cardboard military personnel who immediately trust some stranger without asking for his ID, etc. Add to that a temporary `companion' who doesn't do anything and the fact that the Doctor himself is never really threatened and you're left with some kind of B-Movie plot like "Outbreak of the Andromeda Strain Body Snatchers Thing" Given the limited amount of broadcast material with Paul McGann as the Doctor, there was a lot of scope for 'inventing' him - but sadly it didn't happen.
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on 5 September 2013
None of this series of books would get many stars if they were judged alone.
They all have the same problem, in that they are far too short and the stories tend not to take this into account.

There is often a very good set up, with lots of clever ideas, but then no time to explore them and the ending seems perfunctory.

If you only have 40ish pages then the story shouldn't have ambitions to be a novel and it should work better within it's limits.

So the rating I'm giving are just a comparison within this series.
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on 4 September 2013
Some of the other reviews have complained that the Doctor seems a bit uniform and bland here, however, I very disagree. As someone who has listened to all of the 8th Doctor audio adventures from Big Finish, I could completely hear his voice when reading this. But I can also appreciate how others who aren't as familiar with the 8th might not get this.

Also, quite gory in places!
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on 23 September 2013
...when Doctor Who literature was truly excellent and ground breaking in its own way. Very emotive of the eighth doctor in both the novels and his tv appearance. It is, definitely, a very short story. I think it took me about ten minutes to read. Granted I read fast, but just as I was enjoying it, it finished. Can see how it would work longer and would sit so easily alongside the EDAs.
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on 23 August 2013
This is a very compact story that is structured perfectly to fit the style of this type of novella. Unfortunately this makes the plot quite predictable. Although there might be a lack of surprise of revelation for the reader the storyline is still relatively enjoyable. There is a pace and flair to the writing that encourages a reading in one sitting. Mixed with what might be considered a fairly standard Doctor Who plot this is a good addition to this 50th anniversary range.

Set in Nevada (although the setting isn't really relevant to the plot or enjoyment of the work), this story is concerned with the arrival of a genetically engineered pathogen intent on liquefying the Earth. In many ways it behaves a bit like the idea of nanobots rather than a virus. As it is engineered to be semi-intelligent it manages to fulfil the role of giving the Doctor a villain to converse with but also means that the author doesn't have to use vital space to create a character for his villain. It is a clever technique for a short story such as this.

However, there is a lack of characterisation overall. Other than the Doctor only really a couple of characters appear, both of which are very basic stereotypes (Evelyn Chan providing the typical female companion role which isn't really needed in this story. The Doctor himself is a very bland version. Admittedly though there is not that much to work with considering the Eighth Doctor only made one televised appearance. Even so, this version of the Eighth Doctor is quite satisfying as he solves any problems and resolves any encounters merely by using knowledge and intelligence; without the use of techno-wizardry or sonic screwdrivers.

It is a solid story and a worthy addition to this series. It isn't much of a celebration of the Eighth Doctor though.
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on 24 November 2013
The Eighth Doctor goes to Roswell to defeat an alien terraforming spore. In all the stories featuring the Eighth Doctor he seems to exude a knowing melancholy and I have to give Alex Scarrow credit for capturing this facet of the Doctor's personality.
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