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on 9 October 2011
There have been literally hundreds of DOCTOR WHO novels, but with the new millennium incarnation of the TV series, BBC Books (inevitably) renovated its line to match. The publishing "reboot" features three kinds of book: the main line of compact hardcovers sans dust jacket, technically marketed at YA readers, but written at a general audience level; a number of series *specifically* for younger readers, including annuals, Quick Reads and the 2in1 volumes of novellas; and what I guess might be called the "adult" line: mainstream hardcovers presumably written at a higher literary level.

The first book in that series, by science fantasy Master Michael Moorcock, THE COMING OF THE TERRAPHILES was, despite Moorcock's longtime and well documented affection for the show, a vastly disappointing affair, to put it mildly; rather than step into the DOCTOR WHO universe and continuity, he seemed to be appropriating the characters and some of the concepts to fit within his peculiar and legendary multi-verse. They bore little but surface resemblance to the authentic characters and more heartbreaking still, the book itself was a rambling, talky, discursive bit of twee high comedy, as if the setting were a drawing room in space.

But this second book by Dan Abnett, THE SILENT STARS GO BY, seems an aggressive attempt to reclaim the "adult" line's integrity. Abnett, though certainly a major player, does not represent the kind of high profile by-line Moorcock does, but clearly, this time, the editors were more concerned about getting it right than having a brand name on the package.

Abnett's book is really no more "adult" than the primary line of books, save for the fact that it's somewhat longer. Mostly, it's just a ripping good WHO yarn, featuring Matt Smith's incarnation of the Doctor, plus married companions Amelia Pond and Rory Williams. He has the characters, their voices, their internalization, exactly right; his prose is facile (he likes a good, showy effect) but also witty, and also -- and I don't mean this to diminish its sophistication -- easy to read. The flow appears effortless.

This is not to say it breaks any new ground -- as I say, this book is *not* a literary experiment, it's DOCTOR WHO served straight up, with suspense, cool monsters and expertly timed comedy. And it spins variations on a few familiar science fiction tropes (among them the backwoods colony of settlers descended from space travelers, who view artifacts of their ancestors' technology in a reinterpretive, religious context.) But I think that's exactly what was called for to save the line of books.

Flaws? Sometimes THE SILENT STARS GO BY is (despite its highly poetic title) cleverly quippy to a fault, and Abnett works the wisecracks a bit too hard. (When the original play version of THE ODD COUPLE was in out of town tryouts, a colleague asked director Mike Nichols how it was going. "Pretty good," said Nichols. "We're taking out the jokes." Meaning, of course, they were getting rid of distracting excess, that moved off the point of character and story. Here and there Abnett could do with similar restraint.) But all in all, that's a minor quibble.

The book is a brisk, fun read, it truly does come off as a credible DOCTOR WHO episode (and in comparison to the weak 6th season entries, a superior one at that) ... and it can (and will) be enjoyed by young readers as well as adults. Geronimo ...
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A Doctor Who novel. Telling an all new story for the Doctor and friends that hasn't appeared before in any other medium.

It features the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory. It's set at a point somewhere early in their second season.

It runs for two hundred and seventy nine pages. It's divided into a prologue plus eighteen chapters.

There's also a short introduction from the writer which is worth a read.

Although this was originally published separately from the main range of these - which are suitable for all ages - as a hardback edition, which tend to be geared more towards slightly older readers, this one is pretty much suitable for all ages as well.

Set on the colony world of Hereafter, the colonists are people known as Morphans. Life is not going as well as it has been for them, as the weather seems to be getting worse all the time. Then a girl disappears. Strange creatures are seen in the woods.

Three strangers then arrive. One of them claims to be a Doctor. They might just be what the planet needs, in order to find the secrets that await...

This is written by a writer who does a lot of franchise fiction. And they are clearly a master of that craft. You can't write anything too sophisticated, or something that changes tv continuity. But you have to write a story that feels like an episode of the show, and also uses the medium of the printed page and the reader's imagination to conjure up visuals in the mind's eye that a tv budget possibly couldn't manage.

This more than succeeds in doing that. Getting the three main characters exactly right, with dialogue you can imagine the tv actors saying.

It's also good science fiction. The world is a good setting and the Morphans come over as people who have lived in such a setting for a long time, with language traits that show such signs.

There is an old monster involved. It handles them really well, keeping them a vague presence at the start. With some great visual descriptions of how those who don't know them react to them. Plus there's some really good plotting, that has clearly been worked out right from the start. Allowing for some excellent surprises and plot twists in the final quarter.

This is not great literature. But it's really good Doctor Who novel writing. So it's well worth a read if that's what you're looking for.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 20 November 2011
While I have to admit I'm not a huge Eleventh Doctor fan, this story stands well in the Doctor Who genre. Really I felt reading it that it would have stood well as a Tenth Doctor story as well - the same level of action, irreverence, seriousness - and a good adventure story.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory are trying to find somewhere to celebrate Christmas but where they end up is anything but festive. The setting is well portrayed, as are in the inhabitants and visitors to the planet. Dan Abnett writes well - I'm a fan of his Black Library books, having read quite a few of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 novels. And I must admit that I was drawn to this story primarily because it had the Ice Warriors in it - I much prefer the `classic' Doctor Who and the `classic' monsters and villains, and it's nice to see the Ice Warriors return.

All in all, I felt this was a good Doctor Who novel - a well-written story, and the Doctor and his companions were portrayed sympathetically and added to the story well. Recommended for a Doctor Who fan.
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VINE VOICEon 9 December 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A book that truly feels like it could be the novelisation of a TV episode. The key word for this book is danger, there are elements of it everywhere in the prose be it the threat of the human race dieing out or from the villains' in the chase sequences of the book. I wouldn't quite say its dark but its definitely not of the "jolly" nature of post comeback Who books.

Featuring The Doctor, Amy and Rory the regulars are captured near perfectly, I especially enjoy Rory's self depreciation. Looking for Christmas they land on a future colony planet where things aren't going to well for the human race. The planets weather pattern is mysteriously becoming more winter like and the Ice Warriors are afoot. I especially enjoyed the fact that the Ice Warriors were allowed to be monsters for a large part of the book. Eventually they get into chatty mode but its enjoyable to see a monster be a monster.

Fully recommended and I give it five stars, very much an all action book with my favourite parts being the aforementioned chases. Although don't be fooled as its also got a good little plot with the odd twist and surprise late in play.
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on 7 May 2013
Even though it was far longer before the Ice Warriors returned on television, it has been some time since they appeared in the Doctor Who books (their audio appearances have been much more frequent however). If anything, the Ice Warriors are a little under represented. For much of the story they are merely lumbering monsters; slowly and ineffectively chasing various protagonists and making for repetitive and tedious reading. There should have been a bit more variation between these scenes. By the latter stages of the book the Ice Warriors actually get some character through the introduction of an Ice Lord. In fact, the best scene of the novel is probably the interaction between Ixyldir and the Doctor. But by this time the Ice Warriors are overshadowed by a more serious threat to both the human community and themselves. Therefore when the Ice Warriors finally become interesting they are side-lined into the role they play in the final episode of `the Curse of Peladon'. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it is just that this is the same ploy that has been used before and that I can't help wanting the Ice Warriors to be out-and-out bad guys after all this time.

The novel is a little stilted despite a relatively fast paced style of prose and dialogue. There feels like a lot of needless deviation and repetition. Not much actually happens and it is sometimes frustratingly tiresome waiting for the plot to move on. There is also an annoying ongoing joke between Amy and the Doctor concerning whether things should be described as either, ...ish or ...esque. It is a little too silly and frequently breaks up moments of tension.

In essence, though, the novel contains many elements that have previously been successful in Doctor Who stories. The splitting of the Tardis crew is done convincingly, not forced, and allows the author to provide a great characterisation of Rory. All the Ice Warrior talk of honour, even though a little overplayed in this book, is still quite entertaining. The general idea of a colony creating its own confused version of its own history still works, although it isn't as imaginative as similar ideas in `The Face of Evil' or `The Doctor's Daughter'.

The regulars are pretty accurate to their TV personas and Ixyldir is a perfect Ice Lord (although personality wise he is a bit similar to Izlyr from `The Curse of Peladon'). The other characters all feel a little bit incidental however. Vesta has potential but soon does little more than tag along behind Rory.

Overall the story is reasonably entertaining but it lacks depth and originality.
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on 16 December 2013
Of the various Doctor Who novels I've read, this is probably the most straightforward. Abnett absolutely nails Eleven, Rory, and Amy from the first page, and throws them into an adventure that's breathless and effective. It's very visual, so much so that it's hard not to see it as it would be on the tellybox, perhaps as a xmas special. That's both its great strength (it gives you exactly what you expect, to a compatible standard with the show that it's based on) and its great weakness (it tries nothing new, and doesn't use the expanded canvas of a novel to push the format). If you want an original story that's the same as the stuff on the telly, this is the book you should choose. I'd have preferred more ambition, but it's hard to fault a novel that's this much fun.
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on 11 April 2015
Along with Touched by an Angel & Borrowed Time this is one of my favorite 11th Doctor novels so far.The story has been covered by many other reviewers so i'll just say Dan Abnett is a great writer and has mixed up old & new Who in a good way & it's nice to see the Ice Warriors back on the scene! 5/5
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VINE VOICEon 17 December 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
'The Silent Stars Go By' is the second in a new series of annual 'event' novels, following last year's offering from Michael Moorcock, 'The Coming of the Terraphiles'. That novel seemed to get a very mixed reaction from fans, so this time BBC Books appear to have decided to play it safe. Michael Moorcock offered a very distinctive and different take on Doctor Who, filtering the concept through his own style and 'Multiverse' mythos, and offering something new in the process. Dan Abnett on the other hand is primarilly a professional tie-in writer, and the result is exactly what you'd suspect: a very slick, professional read, with the regulars to the fore and entirely in keeping with their television counterparts. The downside is it's also completely anonymous in style. This is a good solid Doctor Who adventure, but it offers nothing new, and it could have been written by anybody, so it's designation as some kind of 'event' book seems to rest on both the return of the Ice Warriors, and a few vague story nods towards Christmas. Still, the story is the main thing, and whilst the initial chapters seem to have been distilled from some data bank of traditional Who cliches (prologue where a supporting character is attacked by something nasty in the woods; Doctor and companions land and are immediately suspected of wrongdoing by the locals and locked up; civilisation where historical truth has been corrupted over the years), Abnett does manage to fit in a couple of enjoyable twists along the way, and there is plenty of action for all three of the regular cast.

Reader Michael Maloney has a curiously old-fashioned and somewhat fruity delivery, so his Doctor occasionally feels more like a throwback to the slightly posher early Doctors, but he manages to invest his character with a range of distintive voices without going overboard on silly accents. It should be noted that whilst Amazon lists the reading as taking place over 8 CDs, it's actually only 6, as 'The Silent Stars' go by is much shorter and tighter novel than 'The Coming of the Terraphiles'. For an audiobook however, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Again - a good, 'solid' Doctor Who adventure - but sadly lacking in originality and authorial voice. Good, but not great. 3.5/5
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The classic baddies are back, in the shape of the Ice Warriors. The story written by Dan Abnett and the audio CD is narrated by Michael Maloney. This is my first listening from the collaboration between these two people and they do not disappoint. The story is set on a frozen inhospitable world where the people try to survive against the odds, where the food harvest is critical to their survival. They hope that one day they can change the world to one that more resembles mother Earth.

However, the crops begin to fail and the corresponding live stock are dying what was a harsh existence is even worse.

The action begins with some pace and there are moments of humour seeded here and there in the narrative. What is great about this audio CD, for those us who remember the Ice Warriors of old, on TV, is the way your imagination is engaged, and the fear you felt as child while not to the same degree now, but none the less does give slight goose bumps. The story is littered with character and framed well in what we know and would expect from a good Dr Who story. My only slight critic is that at 6 hours long the pacing and narration seem to dull a bit, as another reviewer has mentioned and I quote `part three seems padded out'. That said, the there is depth and detail to this tale, and unlike our all too short TV format Dr Who episodes the time taken to expand explain and back drop set up are what make some of these audio CDs. To best sum up the quality of this Who adventure. A quote from Homer, Homer Simpson that is, Ice Warriors Mmmmm, as he salivates.
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VINE VOICEon 20 January 2012
When Doctor Who was cancelled just as it started to get interesting again, the only way for Who fans to get a regular fix was through the generally excellent Virgin New Adventures. These took McCoy's seventh incarnation and placed him in far more intricate, Machiavellian plots and - realising that the final audience that had seen the TV programme and therefore the majority of it's readers was growing up - introduced more obvious. adult themes. BBC took the licence back and turned McCoy into McGann, but kept the grown-up storylines.

Since it's return to our screens, the books have regressed into child friendly affairs to tie-in with backpack and lunch box sales for it's target audience of 5-12 year olds.

Then, last year the Beeb allowed Sci-fi/fantasy legend Michael Moorcock loose, releasing The Coming of the Terraphiles, a tale that takes the Doctor to his extreme mutli-faceted eternal champion guise.

This year, it's Dan Abnett's turn. Abnett, no stranger to the general genre nor specifically to 'Who' (having written several comic strips), turns in a simpler and more accessible tale. In many ways it harkens back to 'Classic' Who; Tom Baker stumbling on a future human colony that is stuck in the equivalent of the middle ages. Monster in the forest threaten the settlement and out of the cold snow, the Doctor appears. Yet this isn't Tom Baker, it's Matt Smith.

The Ice Warriors - a sadly underused old enemy appear, attempting to remove the settlers adn the inevitable conflict approaches.

Abnett's writing style sits well with what is a comparatively light and frothy story, with dark undercurrents. It flows well although the Ice Warriors are - again - used seemingly fleetingly. Sadly I don't think Abnett has a handle on his characters - the banter between the Doctor and his companions (Amy and Rory) grates after a while and as I have said previously, this feels much more like a fourth or fifth Doctor story that the current 22nd century incumbent.

Still, at it's heart is a good story, with enough twists to keep the reader happy til the end.
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