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Doctor Who: Imperial Moon Mass Market Paperback – 1 Aug 2000
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Top customer reviews
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.
Being set in 1878, Christopher Bulis has drawn from the literature of the time for the feel of the story. The ghosts of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, H. Rider Haggard and Arthur Conan Doyle appear to have been whispering in Mr. Bulis' ear. However, in advancing the story and bringing it to its conclusion, it is contemporary science fiction of Doctor Who that sets the tone.
The Doctor is in his fifth incarnation (portrayed on TV by Peter Davison) and is assisted by the less than trust-inspiring pairing of Turlough (who joined the TARDIS crew to kill the Doctor for the Black Guardian) and Kamelion (a former slave of the Master). Like in real life, Kamelion plays a relatively minor role (the Kamelion robot proved too problematic to use prominently in filming the series), so it largely falls to the Doctor and Turlough, and their astral mariner allies, to deal with the mysteriously populated jungle crater on the lunar surface.
The novel has obviously been well thought through by Mr. Bulis, who displays his influences proudly, and the moral dilemma of Turlough is well-portrayed and within the established scope of his character. The portrayal of the Victorian characters is good, and I especially enjoyed the inclusion of Queen Victoria and her gillie, John Brown, who open the book and... but that would be telling! Captain Richard Halliwell and Miss Emily Boyes-Dennison, who carry a moderate portion by themselves, appear to be included in part to show the impact of the "New Woman" on Victorian society.
I found it a good read, which I believe would benefit from close attention however having the advantage of not requiring it. It seemed well-suited to the Davison-era of Doctor Who, although perhaps earlier than it is set as it doesn't suffer from the efforts of the script editor of the season it was set in trying to make the show more "grim and gritty"...
‘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.
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