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Doctor Who: Imperial Moon Mass Market Paperback – 1 Aug 2000
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A fifth Doctor and Turlough novel in which the TARDIS materializes on the far side of the moon. The year is 1878, and the Doctor meets up with an expedition led by Captain Richard Halliwell. Why does history hold no record of Victorian space travel?
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‘Imperial Moon’ is a mixture of something along the lines of ‘Victorian stories for boys’ and a pastiche on the fifties science fiction comics and films that involved exploring the mysterious dark side of the moon. It is filled with all the usual clichés including that of a colony/society hidden on the moon that consists entirely of alluring, scantily clad women who are ruled over by an Amazonian style matriarch. It is all taken quite seriously though and it is only Turlough, in tune with his personality, who mocks things. This acknowledges the clichéd content and gives voice to what the reader is likely thinking.
In fact, this is a strong story for Turlough. He gets quite a lot to do and often, uncharacteristically, fulfils the role of hero. As well as being a good ‘timey whimey’ plot device, Halliwell’s diary also serves to make Turlough act in a way his normal cowardice and reluctance don’t allow him to. It does this by making him conform to what it tells him he has already done so that he doesn’t risk altering events. This coupled with his urge to impress Lytalia make him act much more proactively and confidently than he usually does.
However, Kamelion, as usual, doesn’t get the same treatment. As usual it seems like there isn’t much use for him. Rather annoyingly, considering that this is a novel without the restrictions of television production, feeble technobabble excuses are invented to keep Kamelion confined to the Tardis and out of events for much of the book. He only appears in the latter stages in some form of deus ex machina to rescue the Doctor and Turlough from situations that they won’t get out of by themselves. It seems a shame he is so poorly utilised but that is often the case for him and at least in this novel he does have a couple of important things to do, however brief.
A lot of the earlier stages are quite staid and dull, forming quite a laborious read until the latter sections. The revelations and twists don’t quite make up for this as, although they are quite entertaining, they are a little predictable. However, the Vrall are a decently devised species and certainly have more scope.
Even the use of the rarely-seen Kamelion works well, the android getting some effective characterisation as he provides vital aid in the resolution of the crisis (AND in a manner that accounts for Queen Victoria's actions in "Tooth & Claw" into the bargain; talk about precognitive!), while the supporting cast are well-presented and provide truly engaging personalities for the readers to enjoy.
And as for the setting...
Exceptional location, intriguing villains, and an engaging mystery that culminates in a highly satisfactory manner that ties up all loose ends while making it clear that all concerned have been affected by their time with the Doctor; EXACTLY as it should be.
You can't really imagine this one having been done on tv, and it doesn't quite fit the era and would possibly have been stronger as a third doctor story. But it's still a good and entertaining read
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