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Doctor Who: Vanderdeken's Children Mass Market Paperback – 3 Aug 1998

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; illustrated edition edition (3 Aug. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563405902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563405900
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 8.9 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 276,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Some Doctor Who novels can leave the reader wishing they could be seen and not just read. The beautifully written and passionately inspiring Vanderdeken's Children is one of those novels. Christopher Bulis has taken some of the best elements of science fiction and blended them with a dash of horror to create a story that resonates with clever plotting and beautiful visuals.

Two starships from the rival systems of Nimos and Emindar find themselves facing off around a huge and unknown alien space craft. This craft is being claimed for salvage by both systems and neither is prepared to back down. The Doctor arrives unexpectedly and, when things start to get difficult, offers his and Sam's help to the Emindar captain. They head off down to the alien ship and discover... But to say more would perhaps spoil this brilliant tale of time travel, rivalry and big dumb objects hanging in space.

Bulis' alien ship does nothing but exist, but in doing so it provides the basis for almost every aspect of the novel. As events move on, so we discover more about the ship and its horrific inhabitants, and the imagination that Bulis has applied here is nothing short of superb. The ship is a brooding character and its alienness is emphasised well. From the strange pipe-like patterning on its surface to mysteriously coded hatchways and a vast, apparently empty interior, it dominates the story.

Vanderdeken's Children is a novel that demandes reading and re-reading. It's an exciting and gripping story, full of good characters and an excellent premise. If nothing else, it's perhaps the way Doctor ought to be for the nineties. Get it filmed now. --David J Howe

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
1998 wasn't a good year for the EDA's according to general fan consensus. It's pretty easy to see why when 5 of the 7 novels preceding Vanderdeken's Children were either easily forgettable or severely lacking. With Vanderdeken's Children though, Christopher Bulis has managed to stem the flow and written a novel is one of the better ones of the era.

The Doctor and Sam stumble across a derelict space ship which is being claimed by two different nations at the same time, the trouble is the ship is seemingly protected by unknown forces and both sides struggle to get a foothold. Once finally on the vessel, it soon becomes clear that the craft isn't quite as abandoned as first thought when the crews are attacked by "ghosts".

Vanderdeken's Children has extensive use of science fiction and technology, which I enjoy as long as it makes sense. Bulis has managed to do just that, creating believable scenarios with complex themes without too much technobabble so even someone of my limited capabilities can understand it. The ending is a little bit too complicated, and takes a few reads over to fully comprehend what has happened.

Bulis' characterization is fine, the Doctor and Sam are both done satisfactorily and the supporting cast are interesting and well written. The enemy ghosts, are truly chilling and the story behind them is well done and interesting.

In short Vanderdeken's Children is a surprisingly mature, intelligent and atmospheric 8th Doctor novel from Christopher. Whilst not overly memorable it deals with some thought provoking and challenging themes and still serves as a decent Eighth Doctor novel.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Vanderdeken's Children" is a novel centred around a massive derelict alien spacecraft. The story is entertaining enough, however i was left feeling that somethings were never properly explained and a second reading may be required to fully grasp the concepts here. The alien ship is very reminiscent of the Event Horizon, from the film of the same name. Despite it's bad points, this is an eerie and atmospheric novel and fairly entertaining from beginnig to end.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A great read, by turns atmospheric, exciting and chilling. From the start we get straight into the story and it holds the attention throughout. A few of the explanations at the end are a little unclear and confusing, but the basic plot is watertight, intelligent and well thought out. All in all an excellent story
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Vanderdekens Children demonstrates Christopher Bulis' in-depth understanding of doctor who and yet again shows his talents for writing good quality sci-fi. The suspense and unease Bulis creates in sections of the book really do prevent you from putting it down. A brilliant novel!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x980b68dc) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97feb2ac) out of 5 stars Great plot makes up for the shallow characters 4 Jun. 2001
By Andrew McCaffrey - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
VANDERDEKEN'S CHILDREN comes as a refreshing breath of air after the last few books that have been sacrificing plot for characterization (or just plain sacrificing both for nothing). Don't get me wrong now, I'd prefer to have both in a story, but if we're only going to get one at a time in this series, it is nice to mix them up every now and then.
This is the hardest Science-Fiction story that the Doctor Who series has had in a while. Derelict spacecrafts, time paradoxes, hyperspace tunnels, and echoes from the future all feature heavily. The Doctor and Sam get to play Sherlock Holmes and Watson while helping two different human factions uncover the mystery of an abandoned alien ship that's apparently home to some familiar ghosts. The plot is genuinely interesting and I was kept on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it would unfold.
The characterization is uniformly shallow with one or two sections where it descends into tedium. I couldn't see how the subplot concerning the husband, wife and the other woman made any difference to the story. I realize that they were also experiencing the same sort of future echoes that the rest of the passengers were and I thought it was a good idea to show some of the other effects of the time loop. But while it made for a diversion from the main action, it was not an interesting one, and in my opinion it should have either been strengthened or cut from the book entirely. Every time that section came up, I inwardly groaned at the clichéd dialogue and the stereotypical "tough wife and passive husband" relationship.
But as this was mainly a plot driven story, the characterization didn't distract from it all that much. There are a few places at the end where the explanation about the future time lines seemed to fall apart. I was especially annoyed at the eventual explanation for what the origin of the ship was. However, overall this was a very good book and I highly recommend it for fans of the book series or for people who are unfamiliar to the Doctor Who format. The book seems specially designed for beginners to the line and starts off with a short and unobtrusive introduction to the main characters, the TARDIS and the series particulars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9813c180) out of 5 stars An excellent space thriller 27 Sept. 1998
By Mr. K. Mahoney - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a very clever book, which certainly gets the brain cells working. The Doctor and sam arrive in the TARDIS just as an alien spaceship is being discovered by a leisure cruiser from Emindar and a warship from Nimos. Posing as a Federation Moderator, the Doctor cannot but help get involved. Who built the Alien ship, and for what purpose? And just how far will it affect the future of Emindar and Nimos, two planets already itching to go to war? The Doctor is surprised at how easy it seems to unlock the alien ship's secrets, but unlocking the destiny of him and his companions is going to be far more difficult, especially when there are mad ghostlike creatures determined to stop them... This is the first novel by Christopher Bulis that I've read, but I've no doubt that I'll be hunting down his others. The Doctor and Sam were particularly drawn well.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9942cd80) out of 5 stars An Enjoyable, Thrilling Ride 12 Jan. 2000
By Julio Angel Ortiz - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I don't know why it is that people on Dr Who fan sites bash certain Dr Who books, while the same books get great reviews on This is one of them, and let me tell you (as a hardcore Eighth Doctor Fan) I loved this book! It was an erie, sci-fi horror feel to it. This book is complex and you may need to slow down the pace of reading this to grasp all the neat plot twists and temporal loops, but it's great. I was hooked from page 1 to the last. The action starts off right away, and I liked little things in this book (like the Doctor using his real name when creating a fake id on the ship, which really confuses people because it's practically unpronounceable by humans), and the characters are mostly well created. I would definitely recommend this book to any dr who fan!
HASH(0x97feb4b0) out of 5 stars There's ghosts in all your houses! 2 Nov. 2008
By Michael Battaglia - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I don't tend to notice the writers on the Who novels unless they're either really good or really bad, so at least I have some idea of what I'm walking into in the future. Bulis isn't really good or bad but his name seems to come up an awful lot when reading the novels so I've wound up over time paying attention to which ones he writes. And thus far I've found that he's a bit of a journeyman, getting the job done without being too exciting, including an interesting enough premise to show that he has some kind of imagination but a lot of times unable to back that up with any kind of emotionally compelling elements. Stuff happens and more stuff happens and occasionally you go "Wow!" or "Oh, that's neat" and then the story is over.

This one really isn't any exception. The Doctor, noticing an anomaly, decides to drop anchor at a spot where two ships from warring empires have just come upon an alien spacecraft of unknown origin. Before long both sides are jockeying for control of it, which would be fine except that mysterious events are beginnning to occur and the ultimate origin of the ship isn't what anyone expects.

It's fairly creepy, especially when nobody knows what's going on, and Bulis is good at building atmosphere, with ghosts and ghostly voices and so on. But it's just hard to care about anyone here, they all feel like stock character types, everyone has one personality trait and drives it right into the ground, or they follow predictable arcs (the seemingly brave fellow who is actually a coward is able to overcome his fear in a moment of glory right before he's ruthlessly cut down . . . raise your hand if you were surprised) . . . everyone hates everyone else. Even the subplots aren't that exciting, with a henpecked husband beset by a shrew of a wife finally learning to stand up to her in the midst of all the chaos. I didn't see the stabbing coming, though, so I'll give him that.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is being inscrutable but not in that "I'm manipulating everything but you don't know it" fashion of the Seventh Doctor . . . he seems to have some idea of what's going on but either refuses to say or never gets a chance to, which means that everyone flounders about until he finally gets around to explaining it. The crux of the matter depends on a paradox that is actually pretty well thought out, even if I do imagine a map of it taking up an entire wall of the author's house. I'm sure it falls apart under really close scrutiny but if you're examinig the temporal paradoxes of "Doctor Who" closely, we need to have a talk.

But the dangers, creepy at first, eventually become kind of tedious, all the paradoxing threatens to hurt the mind and our heroes don't do anything really memorable except the Doctor juryrigs a magic device to make everything all better. I'm not even sure why Sam was here. Mildly entertaining while you're reading it, if you need a fix it'll get the job done but otherwise it's kind of empty calories.
HASH(0x97fd7b7c) out of 5 stars Time travel done right - with reviewer warnings 22 Jun. 2011
By Nathan A. Hawks - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you get through the introduction, if you enjoy the goth-tinted, grimdark feel of Eighth Doctor Adventures, and if you crave time travel stories that actually use time travel (instead of smacking the characters on the wrist for trying it), Vanderdeken's Children is absolutely gripping.

This book is chaotic and dangerous, with a titanic sense of scale, supported by gravitas and sheer wonder. It would be a mystery story, but the exposition comes just-in-the-nick, with few opportunities to guess ahead. Despite the reader's frustrated desire to answer one question raised on every page - "WTF?!" - the ride is a thrill, the package is solid, and the revelations will make your head snap and your hands applaud.

Because the story (eventually) becomes deeply steeped in time travel and its side effects, the POV, and other aspects of delivery, get chaotic. The beginning feels pedestrian in parts, but I think this is unavoidable, in retrospect - the pacing eventually skyrockets, so the slower beginning was required to establish characters, to give the reader reasons to care.

The book loses one star for the beginning, which nearly made me put the book down for its pacing and its hop-skip-jump approach to settings; and for being so chaotic later that I literally felt dizzy, trying to fully absorb events and implications before turning the page. But these aren't really complaints - they're more like symptoms. My advice is to force yourself through the beginning until Stuff Officially Happens, and then take the rest of the book in manageable nibbles, lest it leave your brain with bruises.

Not for easily-intimidated readers, and not for anyone who dislikes confusion or rough rides, but highly recommended for everyone else.
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