- Also check our best rated Children’s Book reviews
Doctor Who, Fear Itself (Doctor Who (BBC Paperback)) Paperback – 8 Sep 2005
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The 22nd Century, and a few short years of interstellar contact have taught Man a hard lesson: there are forces abroad that are nightmare manifest - powerful, unstoppable, alien forces. It's a realisation that deals a body blow to Man's belief in his own superiority, and leaves him with the only option he has ever had: to fight. When the Doctor and his friends are caught in the crossfire, they find suspicion and paranoia running rampant, with enemies to be seen in every shadow. The fight against alien forces is no job for an amateur, and for a Doctor only just finding his way in the universe again, one misstep could be fatal. This is a new adventure featuring the Eighth Doctor.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
A very clever piece of writing, with well drawn characters and some very original ideas. There are twists that you won't see coming, and whilst you're constantly wondering 'how is this all going to fit in with what has gone before?' the writer manages to do just that. And not in ways you'd have expected.
Would that they'd all been this good
What really hammers home the effectiveness of Wallace's treatment of the regulars is the barrage of amazing twists at the conclusion. He manages to take what we know about each of these characters (in regards to this book) and turns it on its head.
A strong prose style eases you through the books pages, heavy on description but never shirking its emotional responsibilities to the characters. It is never short on incident (indeed the opening bomb attack and Anji's shocking sky dive into Jupiter's atmosphere sets the book off on exactly the right footing, not giving the reader a chance to adjust...) and the characters are always focussed, and reach a satisfying conclusion. The more I think about it, Fear Itself not only ticks all the right boxes but ticks them with confidence and style.
Score one for the new boy, Nick Wallace has crashed the party and proven this old hacks that they need to keep dishing up something original. Fear Itself is a superb book on any level, a novel that sucks you into its world, thrills you with its mysteries and gets you close to its characters. It is an experience.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Of course I'm speaking only in a relative fashion. All of one book ago I read the last of the Eighth Doctor novels, the final time he would appear as the present incarnation and not some "unseen adventure" version. Yet, lo and behold, I go to read the next Past Doctor Adventure book in the line and it seems that the Eighth Doctor is already making an appearance. That's service of some kind, or at least the mark that someone was unable to squeak in under the wire.
Actually Nick Wallace is several books too late as his story contains not the recent team of the Doctor, Fitz and Trix, but the only freshly broken up Doctor, Fitz and Anji team. I have no problem with this as I find myself ranking that trio as one of the classic pairings of a Doctor with companions, a mix of a Doctor hitting his stride with stories that were worthy of him, a veteran companion in it for the adventure and trying to find his footing once again (Fitz), and a new girl who could be both capable and out of her depth at the same time, but able to adapt and most importantly, react like a normal person would to strange things happening (Anji). Add in some entertaining banter and a camaraderie that never took the cheap way out into romance and it makes it a shame that this crew gets relegated to a vague canonicity, not even seeming to appear in the comic strips or the audio adventures that have become quite common now. It's a bit of an unsung era that deserves to be dug up and assessed again, and while Wallace's book came too soon after the end of that era for a proper assessment to be taken, what it does accomplish is the two things it needs to accomplish: it fits in perfectly with the tone of the era and it reminds you what made that team great.
The three of them wind up on Mars in a time after Earth has fought off an alien invasion, making everyone a bit leery of anything resembling an alien lifeform. Quickly Anji is attacked and wounded by two soldiers that have gone berserk and while she recovers the Doctor takes it upon himself to grab Fitz and figure out what's going on. Soon enough they wind up on the Farside space station, and before they can get to the heart of the mystery the entire station either suffers an accident or an attack and appears to be utterly destroyed, stranding Anji on Mars in the future, where she has to figure out how to make a life for herself.
Wallace does so many things right here that it's hard to know where to even start. He gives the plot a nested and shifting time structure, switching between a present day where Anji is with the survivors of the station accident, thte Doctor and Fitz four years before attempting to sift through the source of Anji's attack, and the aftermath of their disappearance as Anji seeks to have a normal life. The constant switching and jumping back and forth means that the plot has simultaneously already transpired and is being revealed, giving the book both a momentum and scope that a traditional structure wouldn't have been able to handle. He parcels out the secrets pretty evenly in each thread and obscures the causes enough so that it isn't exactly clear how one thread is going to necessarily lead to the other. Having some characters appear in the present day and the four years prior thread only adds to the sense of continuity and leads into the next things he gets right: the people.
When people are plunged into unfamiliar situations the story will live and die based on the people who surround them, especially if the situation is unfamiliar to us as well. It requires that the people be sketched with enough detail that we not only believe them but believe their reactions to the world around them, so when a strange world starts going even stranger, we're right there along with them to say "Hey, this isn't right." Wallace writes a small story in the sense that all of existence isn't in direct peril, where the threat is more to the small worlds that we make for ourselves and are just as vital to us intact as the planet that we stand on. He writes about people trying to enjoy the day-to-day things, whether it's finding a new life or entering a new relationship, eating meals with friends, trying to pick the right moment to have an uncomfortable discussion, and he makes them believable even though it's happening on, say, Mars. That's the real heart of the book, he pitches everyone just right so you revel in their triumphs and feel for their pains and it makes any other nuttiness the book might throw at you easier to swallow, especially considering how long we're left in the dark. It's just interesting spending time with these characters.
The true nature of the plot is obscured for maybe longer than some folks would like but for me what makes it work is the sense of various factions, of characters with different motivations all working with and against each other that works better than the Doctor versus some monolithic villain. There's a number of issues he has to parse out here and part of the fascination is how he deals with people who are inherently good but believe fully in the usefulness of something that isn't exactly ethical and believe in it more than they believe in his sense of morality. It's a function of the society that they exist in and Wallace does make the Mars of the future feel like a solid place, familiar but at the same time with its own evolved customs and focusing so much on Anji's attempts to live a normal life helps ground it, along with the other little details about the characters and their personal lives. Most of these people start out as ordinary and remain so by the story's end, and for me that works best, as opposed to the Doctor simply inspiring people to be extraordinary. They do what they do because that's how people can be when pushed into extreme situations and it makes the Doctor just another element in a story swirling with them, another factor of impact to be taken into account.
His Doctor becomes the Doctor we've always had, whimsical and steely in equal measure, unable to give up and suddenly rediscovering himself. He investigates something because he's curious and he feels that it's wrong, not because a crisis is thrust upon him. This story takes place right after he and Fitz get back together and Wallace navigates the relationship between the two of them, two men who are friends but who aren't entirely sure about each other. If the story does set one foot wrong it's keeping them and Anji apart for so long and considering how new she's supposed to be to the TARDIS, the initial decision to leave her alone on Mars suggests either supreme confidence or an extreme lapse in judgment. But she acquits herself well, making the best of a bad situation and holding her own against the creepy Professional and the station survivors (whose attempts to survive deserve a book on its own). Fitz as usual gets all the best lines and has perhaps the coolest moment in his career as the book heads toward its climax. And it's a mark of how well the book is constructed that the ultimate enemy barely makes a physical appearance and it hardly matters, as we're inside a war of ideas and a struggle that can only be managed by proxies. The Doctor shadowboxes to succeed and still manages to land a punch, which is the kind of person we'd always hoped this version would be.
But this is a book that oddly contains multitudes, with the scope of years and the shifts between locations, it's the rare "Who" book that packs an amazing amount of density between its covers without overwhelming the reader or feeling rushed. There are definite and multiple arcs to just about everyone here, with so many moving parts that the balancing act alone is a joy to behold. It feels like stories within stories, that we're stepping into ongoing lives and visiting for a while before leaving again. Being it is a Past Doctor Adventure it has to cheat a little at the end and undo some of its changes, but it does so in a graceful way that doesn't feel too much like plot hammering (although it sidesteps how Anji could reverse her changes but still have aged four years). It adds a sense of resolution and there's an overall ache of emotion rarely seen in these novels.
I don't normally gush about these and I try to look at all of them with a critical eye. So maybe I'm getting sentimental as the series is winding to a close. Or maybe everything here legitimately works. There's no missteps, no moments where I went "Aw, come on!" and plenty of times where the book moved me, fascinated me, held my interest and kept me reading. Whatever sweet spots exist for me, this one hit them and it became one to dive into, swimming in a sea of facets and fractals, with side avenues to explore and reside and marvel at. It doesn't become a gamechanger, it couldn't this late in the game, but it does what so many Past Doctor Adventures fail to do, and that's add an essential story to the mix. It's a double shame that one of the best Eighth Doctor stories came at a time when there would be no more Eighth Doctor stories, and a double shame that a new writer like Wallace came in with a clear talent too late for us to get anymore novels from him (he doesn't appear to have written anything more than a short story here and there since, although he's done some editing). And maybe it is the rose-colored, amber drenched haze of nostalgia rearing its not-as-ugly-as-you-once-thought head but it seems like almost unintentionally Wallace wrote a novel that reminds us what was mostly great about the Eighth Doctor era to begin with, and provides a better cap than the actual final novel did. In that novel, the break never felt organic and seemed to be done with a wink to the audience. When this ends, you get the sense he could go forever, and that feels fitting and that feels right.
The setting is Earth, Mars, and a space station near Jupiter, in the late 22nd century, shortly after the alien (Daleks, though not explicitly named here) occupation of Earth. Human society is just recovering, and even more paranoid than usual, which makes the Doctor's status as an "alien infiltrator" more interesting. The story begins on Mars, where Anji is attacked and left behind to recover while the Doctor's investigation takes him and Fitz (sans TARDIS) across the solar system to the Jupiter space station (under forged credentials). Cue trouble, suspicion, explosions, capture, and all the rest.
Perhaps the best aspect of this book is the portrayal of the relationship between Fitz and the Doctor. Is there even a relationship when the Doctor doesn't remember their shared past? Why does the Doctor never sit down and let Fitz tell him what he does remember? Can the Doctor still be the Doctor or is he bluffing? How did a hundred years alone in exile change him? What changes can you inflict on a person and still have them be themselves? When are they NOT themselves anymore?
"Fitz had decided long ago the Doctor's most annoying habit was turning a pleasant, everyday activity into a life-threatening crisis." And then, "If I die pretending to be an accountant, I'll never forgive myself." Yeah, I love Fitz.