Venusian Lullaby (The missing adventures) Paperback – 20 Oct 1994
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The Doctor has been invited to Venus to attend the funeral of an old friend. Accompanying him are Barbara and Ian, who are unwilling to believe that the planets bizarre inhabitants are as harmless as the Doctor claims. Other titles in this series include "Evolution" and "Goth Opera".
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Top Customer Reviews
The Doctor has decided that it’s about time he followed up on an invitation – to attend the funeral of an old friend Dharkhig, a Venusian. So we finally get to hear, in this story, about the planet Venus, often referred to by the Doctor, and the source of his knowing Venusian Aikido, often used by the Third Doctor in his adventures. Before the Venus that we know today, billions of years ago, the planet was inhabitable, and the Venusians are a race of largely gentle, learned creatures. Knowing their planet is to be their doom, some have come to accept their fate, while others try to find a way to leave Venus. When another race, the Sou(ou)shi, offer them an opportunity to leave their world, it seems too good to be true; and the Doctor is worried that it might be just that.
This is an ambitious story; set in a Venus which is well realised and populated by the author, the action often has Ian, Barbara and the Doctor separated and having to follow their own characterisations and motivations to survive, and to find each other. Barbara is indoctrinated into the ways of Venus early on in the story, and the Doctor’s history with the planet marks him out for special attention by those both friendly and hostile. Meanwhile Ian finds himself well out of his depth for a while, and faces his own ordeals.Read more ›
The Doctor and his travelling companions Ian and Barbara spend most of their time being captured and escaping, with chases and perilous cliffhangers aplenty. As such it is good fun, and worth a read if you can get hold of a copy.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Before I move into more whining passages, I need to give credit where it's due. Paul Leonard did a superb job of creating a valid, alien-seeming society. Given the ludicrous illustration on the cover, the average person could be forgiven for assuming this to be a one-dimensional story where the aliens do nothing but make beeping noises and shout, "Resistance is stupid!"
But that isn't at all what the aliens in this book are like. They look strange, they act different (though the Venusian children behave a little too much like human children for my liking) and their thinking does not closely resemble human thought. I loved every bit of the Venusian customs. I can only wonder if it was as much fun for Leonard to write this stuff as it was to read.
And I loved the decision to make this a First Doctor/Ian/Barbara story. The slower pace of this book really made it feel of that era. (The Doctor even goes missing for a sizable chuck of the middle, either an accidental or tongue-in-cheek reenactment of William Hartnell going on vacation during the season.) In fact, I always thought that period of the show was much more interested than later years in giving the alien or human cultures more interesting and detailed backgrounds. The show was still exploring and establishing its own boundaries in those days, and it seems appropriate that it would allow time to explore the environment of the current story.
The invocation of the regular characters is outstanding. Without rehashing dialog or situations verbatim from the second season, Leonard utterly captures what this reader imagined as their mindset during that time. Ian and Barbara's opinion of the Doctor, their desire to return home, their common-sense attitude to the strange wonders they encounter -- all perfectly accurate. I was especially impressed by how Leonard manages to express the Venusian culture through Barbara's "remembering" ritual at the funeral while still managing to be completely true to her character. The subtle trick of introducing the utterly unfamiliar through the eyes of one of the most familiar characters in Doctor Who history is nothing short of a triumph.
Where the book begins to falter is when it moves away from character moments and Venusian culture and instead becomes involved in the rather humdrum plot. I would much preferred the book padding its length with more of the Venusian world-building. I could happily spend all day reading more about the Venusian funeral customs. More scenes involving the Venusians' goofy plans to escape their dying planet? I'm there. But the unfortunate sequences of companions endlessly hiking all the way across the planet trying to find their lost friends just didn't do anything for me. The book clocks in at 316 pages, making it slightly longer than the average for a Doctor Who novel, and the storyline just isn't quite involved enough to justify that length.
In fact, I found the last hundred or so pages rather tedious. It's almost as if Leonard, figuring he had done enough with the background, could simply place his plot into that setting and run with it. Judging by other, extremely positive reviews, this method worked out all right for him, but it left me a little cold. If I reread this book, I'll have to manage my time better so that I'm not breaking it into little chunks. Given enough momentum from the excellent beginning and middle sections, it might have made the plot-oriented ending easier to digest.
The Venus depicted in this story is bizarrely alien, and it is interesting to watch the (more or less) human Doctor's emotional grief in comparison with the tragedy of a dying world and its inhabitants. The way the Venusians cope with the forthcoming end of their world, ranging from a fatalistic acceptance of the end to a wide variety of seemingly hair-brained schemes. Different groups of Venusians are in conflict with each other.
While this isn't the Doctor's first trip to Venus, but his companions Ian and Barbara have a very difficult time coping with the alien society. In fact, the Venusians way of "remembering" their dead family members (by eating them, which passes on some of the memories) makes their experiences even more strange than they might have been.
While the conflict continues, another group of aliens arrive offering to save the Venusians by moving them to Earth (billions of years before humanity evolved). Can the travellers allow this to happen? Are the Sou(ou)shi as benevolent as they appear?
(During Jon Pertwee's period playing the Doctor, he used what was often called Venusian aikido. These odd five legged aliens are supposedly who this martial art was learnt from. Now that's bizarre!)
There are a lot of questions, and reading this book to find the answers is (in my opinion) an excellent use of your time.
Chronologically, this book takes place immediately after Susan's departure from the series. I was hoping to see more of the characters reactions to her being gone, yet they brush it off almost immediately.
The Venusians. I understand the author was trying to depict an exotic alien culture, but it just feels forced.
They throw around alien words and names like "Trokhobu" "Dharkhig" "dihilrahig" and "Cracdhallter" every other sentence, as if the author is saying
"Look at all these nonsense words I can come up with!"
The first Doctor has always been my favorite because he's more serious than many of the other Doctors. He's wise, and stern, and a father figure to his companions. Unlike some of the other Doctors, who are more wacky.
Apparently the author wasn't a fan of that.
In this book the first Doctor is comical and strange, which is almost blasphemous. Ian and Barbera also acted quite out of character at times.
The writing style of this books is quite good, and probably one of the books few redeeming qualities. I enjoyed the descriptive narration and imagery. And the story and plot itself isn't that bad either. It's also, chronologically, the first time the sonic screwdriver ever appears. And the only time the first Doctor ever uses it.
Overall, I give this book a 2/5.
If you're looking for a good Doctor Who book, I'd reccomend "The Witch Hunters" by Steve Lyons. It amazingly portrays all of the original characters, is historically accurate, and has a touching story that will make you tear up. Personally, it's my favorite Doctor Who book, I give that one a 5/5.