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VINE VOICEon 25 July 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
After having spent the last seven years having to make do with Doctor Who books that a two year old wouldn't find challenging, it's finally back to the subject matter that made the books such a success in the first place, the classic series.

The Virgin and BBC ranges of the '90's were the pinnacle of the Doctor Who novel and The Wheel of Ice fits that tonal feel that those prior books had.

A couple of years ago it was decided to do a series of hardback novels based on Doctor Who that were written by more mainstream science fiction authors, rather than the usual group that were used in the past. They have had mixed results because the authors have fallen into the trap of using hard sci fi concepts and shoehorning the Doctor and co into them, in short, they are not really Doctor Who books at all, despite being well written.

This one is different. It actually feels like the era in which it is set, Troughton's final year.

I'm not going to go into plot, as I hate spoilers and I'm sure most people do too. But briefly, the story is set on a moon within the rings of Saturn, where by there's a human colony set up to mine for minerals. The story is set in the late 21st Century, so the technology of the humans is very much in the dank, dark and fairly primitive stage rather than Star Trek' Enterprise high tech look. The TARDIS has been brought here by a temporal disaster that is somehow linked to an amulet that is worn by a sixteen year old girl, which has been in her family for centuries. There's sabotage and murder on a regular basis and the base has been infiltrated by a race known as the Blue Dolls, whose existance is denied by the authorities.

As said, the tone of the piece is very much in keeping with the TV equivalent and one can actually visualise Troughton, Hines and Padbury in the parts of the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, and the book even has the single element that made the Troughton years so memorable, the 'base-under-siege' scenario.

There are wonderful descriptive space scenes and fascinating background passages detailing the history of the amulet, which do not interrupt the flow of the story, but rather add to it.

This is, without a doubt, the best single Doctor Who novel since, at least, 2005 and proves that, as good as the new series is, there's nothing quite like the classic era of the show, for great characters and fantastic stories.

I hope that this is going to become the first in a line of new novels set in the eras of the first eight Doctors, one thing's for sure, if they are half as good as this, we are in for a treat.

Absolutely, and wholeheartedly, recommended.
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An original Doctor Who novel, which tells an all new story for the character that has never appeared before in any other medium.

As with some other BBC volumes of this kind, whereas most of them feature the current tv Doctor and are aimed at those of all ages, this is one that tries to be more a novel than a bit of franchise fiction.

This is written by renowned British science fiction writer Stephen Baxter.

It features the Second Doctor. Jamie and Zoe.

It runs for three hundred and fifty seven pages. There are forty seven chapters and a prologue and epilogue. Plus several interludes.

The story is set on the Wheel. A space station in orbit of a moon of Saturn. Where there's a mining operation going on. The TARDIS has detected something strange which is a threat to more than just the colony. Tensions abound between the local workers, their children, and the mining company.

Can the Doctor find out what's going on? Because something has been waiting for a very very long time...

Usually, franchise fiction will tell a story that could work quite easily within the confines of a programme. But this avoid that trap by doing a story that the tv show might struggle to do, even with it's current budget and cgi visuals. Because it's so big and so broad.

Some who try do novels rather than just franchise books fail because they go too far towards the former, producing something that isn't really a story from the tv show, or one that would work fine without it's characters.

But this does get the balance right. Because whenever the TARDIS crew are on the page, it really does capture the feel of it's era. The dialogue for the time travellers is perfect, and you can imagine it being said by the actors who played them. It also lets Jamie and Zoe have some more introspective moments, showing you what drives them in certain situations. Which is good characterisation.

The setting is also genuine science fiction. Scientifically accurate and one that inspires a real sense of wonder.

The supporting characters also feel as if they could have come from the Troughton era on tv. Few really stand out, but all are solid characterisation.

The interludes do allow the book to give depth to the more alien of the cast.

There are also some nice continuity references that fans who know this kind of thing will appreciate.

The first hundred or so pages really sink in thanks to all this. But once past that, the pace does rather pick up, to an extent that although it becomes a page turner, what happens next isn't quite as compelling reading as what came before.

That's only a minor complaint though, because there's a lot to like about this. And it's a very good read. So it's well worth a look.
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on 8 April 2013
The Wheel of Ice is the first original Doctor Who novel featuring a classic series Doctor to be published since 2005. That in itself, for me, would have been reason enough to buy it, but Stephen Baxter has actually turned in a pretty good story, too. He has a nice feel for the characters of the second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, the supporting cast are well rounded and engaging, and once the nature of the true threat facing the Wheel is revealed, it's quite satisfyingly more than just another generic alien invasion. Solid science fiction with a genuine sixties Who feel. Recommended.
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on 29 November 2015
I love the second doctor and have read and enjoyed Stephen Baxter's books before so I was expecting a lot. I was not disappointed. So many of the new 'Who' books are generic and over simplified. This is the ideal antidote. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe are well characterised and the host of secondary characters are given a reality that most Who novels lack. The plot is simple but has twists and turns reminiscent of the best of the TV shows. All in all, a must for any Who fan!
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on 31 July 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Fans of Baxter will appreciate The Wheel of Ice as another excellent novel. This is not written as a "children's book" any more than other Sci-Fi is written for adults, but all too often in recent years the Doctor Who range of books has been written-for and marketed-at the children's book-shelves. It is a refreshing change to have a master of Sci-Fi writing an intelligent story with authority.

Troughton's Doctor - the second Doctor - is no "celeb" doctor but a complex paradox whose wit an intellect come through in story. He relates well with the other characters in the story and his voice comes through clearly.

An excellent and engaging story, based in an alien world, the story flies along. Baxter's writing is, as ever, descriptive and detailed, but never boring. He is a master of Sci-Fi writing, and here he writes at his best.

A real page-turner, this is a step-change in the Doctor Who book range. Intelligent, well written and thought provoking I loved this novel.

The hard-back format of the novel is beautifully produced, and the typeface is ideal for younger readers getting used to "adult" books.

Five stars.
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on 11 March 2013
An adventure featuring Patrick Troughton's second incarnation of the Doctor that's so faithful to the era it even thoughtfully includes whole episodes worth of unnecessary padding (Jamie and some kids escape to a moon, mostly so that they can gad about a bit and come back). The Doctor is reasonably portrayed, and his companions Jamie and Zoe are particularly well captured and expanded on. The yarn itself rattles along pleasantly despite several random acts of repetition (numerous expeditions to the same place and back to pick up extra bits of information - one would possibly have done). Baxter gives sound science, and his wheel in space is a very credible technological wonder, but the base under siege hijinks fizzle out with a damp squib of an ending that isn't clever enough to make confounding the reader's expectations worthwhile. A mixed bag then, but an affectionate and entertaining one.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What do you get if you cross "The Wheel in Space" with "The Ice Warriors"? "The Wheel Warriors"? Nope. "The Ice in Space"? Try again. "The Space Warriors"? No, silly - it's "The Wheel of Ice", of course!

Following on from "Shada", BBC Books gives us another chunky hardback featuring a classic series Doctor, and this time it's a completely original novel rather than a novelisation - the first such publication since 2005! The TARDIS crew on this occasion is from the end of the 1960s monochrome era: the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. I must be honest and say that Stephen Baxter's dialogue for the Doctor often does not sound much like Patrick Troughton to me, though the general characterisation is correct: compassionate, but with a hard-edged streak when the situation demands it. Jamie and Zoe come across well, though the former's accent is stronger than it tended to be on television.

The author throws in numerous casual references to aspects of the "Doctor Who" universe, particularly from Zoe's time aboard the TARDIS. There are allusions to "The Wheel In Space" (the fuel source bernalium is a major plot point, and meson shields and the Pull Back to Earth movement are also mentioned), "The Mind Robber" (the surface of Titan reminds Jamie of the landscape of the Land of Fiction, and Zoe recalls the comic-strip adventures of the Karkus), "The Invasion" (the Cybermen and UNIT) and "The Seeds of Death" (the Ice Warriors and T-Mat). In honour of Kit Pedler, the scientist who provided ideas for several 1960s storylines and co-created the Cybermen, Baxter includes a phenomenon known as pedleron particles.

The fact that both the Mnemosyne Cincture and the station where the Doctor first met Zoe are called Wheels is never commented upon in the book. Indeed, Baxter goes out of his way never to refer to Space Station W3 by its informal designation, the Wheel, which was used throughout "The Wheel in Space". However, it is possible that after the Mnemosyne Wheel made such a name for itself, the term became common parlance for any vaguely circular space station or colony.

You may have gathered by now that I came to this book as a "Doctor Who" fan rather than a Stephen Baxter aficionado, but I also enjoyed the hard science the author brings to the mix. The book incorporates a fascinating tour of Saturn's rings and satellites, including the icy Enceladus and the disconcertingly Earth-like Titan. After perusing such passages, I would frequently find myself going online to read more about these wonders of the Solar System (but not Mnemosyne, which is a made-up moon). Many of these sequences are seen through Jamie's eyes, thus ensuring that everything is explained in terms that non-scientists will grasp. They also involve plenty of interplanetary peril, which balances the intrigue and political machinations that take place on the Mnemosyne Cincture.

The author never allows his up-to-the-minute scientific knowledge to undermine the imagination of the Swinging Sixties. If it was shown or mentioned on the telly, then it is part of the "Doctor Who" universe, including Z-Bombs, taranium, and time-travel done with mirrors. If it seems far-fetched, it is worth remembering that in this version of reality, the British space programme reached Mars and Jupiter during the 20th century, so it is no giant leap to assume that there will be a colony at Saturn by about 2050. Where possible, though, Baxter grounds this stuff in reality or believable theory - surprisingly, the flying car depicted in a flashback to around 2010 is a real vehicle!

The secret that lies at the heart of Mnemosyne perhaps owes a little to "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", but for the most part "The Wheel of Ice" is a diverting amalgamation of cutting-edge science and the adventurous spirit of the Sixties. Wheelie nice.
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on 13 May 2015
It has been interesting to read Baxter's take on Doctor Who. It felt like classic Troughton era Who while still falling in with Baxter's brand of sci-fi. The story served both masters well and is one of the best Doctor Who books I've read.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I loved this book and I'm not even a huge Dr Who fan. Well, not of the current Doctor. As a small-ish child one of my first TV crushes was Jamie McCrimmon, (Frazer Hines), the Second Doctor's Scottish assistant, and I suspect I wasn't alone. I remember being particularly upset when Jamie was returned to Earth with his memory wiped and no chance of a comeback with the Third Doctor. He's here again with his character intact. Woo-hoo! Stephen Baxter has recreated his voice, along with Patrick Troughton's and Wendy Padbury's. I suppose I should mention them...
What lifts this above the usual TV-tie in is the sheer quality of the writing. Stephen Baxter is a fine sci-fi writer and this book is completely outside the cliche-ridden formulaic Doctor books of recent years (I buy those for my grandchildren.)
The story itself is a real page-turner, it's difficult to describe it without inserting spoilers. We're on an alien world, with our heroes under siege... it's classic.
Older children will appreciate this, but this is definitely in the adult /cross-over category. Highly recommended.
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on 29 August 2013
This is a book about social order. As usual with Baxter it is strong on temporal ideas (the lure across time, the mechanical Scot) while being a little clunky on the emotional side of character ('cowabunga grandad'...). The message, as with many Who stories, concerns the rights of sentient creatures and the degree to which these may or may not be exploited. The set pieces are strong enough to keep one reading and in the end, it's not a bad way to pass the time.
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