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Doctor Who: Coldheart Mass Market Paperback – 3 Apr 2000
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In the eighth Doctor, Fitz and Compassion story, the Doctor materializes underground, where he and his companions are led to safety by a humanoid character, who explains that this is the planet Eskon.
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The main plot of Coldheart is that a planet has an ice centre with an intense heat exterior. Water is therefore in high demand and the obvious solution is to mine the ice. The TARDIS crew arrive to discover a city in turmoil and on the brink of destruction thanks to mutations to its populace caused by an alien parasite in the ice. It’s all very traditional and this is what makes it so enjoyable. Coldheart gets it’s claws into you very early on and from then on it’s really hard to put down.
The regulars are done well, with plenty of banter between them. Fitz gets the brunt of it, but he does refer to himself as “Captain” so he does deserve it. He also manages to pull again, this time a mute girl who looks like a camel. Still I’ve woken up next to worse. The Doctor is seemingly going through a hard time and putting himself more at risk than usual. This is mentioned at least twice so what it’s building too I don’t know, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Compassion goes from strength to strength and I really like the link she is slowly building with the Doctor. Baxendale has again created an interesting planet and inhabitants, and whilst the majority are fairly stereotypical they are not built up enough for you to really care.
Coldheart is another fine novel from Trevor Baxendale which treads the path many Doctor Who episodes have in the past, and no doubt will in the future. Instead of being to its detriment, the novel is actually much better for it, and it stands as a great standalone novel for all Doctor Who fans.
Then it all becomes about tribe leaders, arguments, errant sons, impending catastrophy and all the other silly little things that run-of-the-mill Dr Who and the Monsters books are always about.
It plays itself entertainingly out (well, as entertainingly as any book about something-nasty-in-the-pipes can be), with the predictable deaths of vast numbers of characters we care nothing about.
The series has developed a boring preoccupation with quantity of death over quality. It seems as though we never meet an alien planet these days without vast amounts of death following swiftly on. If we cared, then so much the better - but we don't. The characters are never differentiated enough for us to feel anything other than a vague distaste (after all, it's so much easier to kill off lots of people in graphic ways than create one character who we really, really care about).
It just happens, which is the best thing that can be said about it.
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