Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Whosday II - Two Eleventh Doctor Who reviews

In the wake of the announcement of the actor playing the Twelfth Doctor, I decided I'd better finish reading the Eleventh Doctor novels I have on the pile.

Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go ByDoctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The TARDIS takes a wrong turn on the way to Leadworth to drop the Ponds off for Christmas and The Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves on a far flung colony world that is in the grips of the worst winter the world has ever seen. But what's causing the hellish weather? And what's killing the livestock? And can the Doctor and the Ponds get to the bottom of things before it's too late?

Of course they can! After all, he's The Doctor.

The Silent Stars Go By sees the Doctor and Amy get separated from Rory early on, wandering around the frozen colony world of Hereafter. If only Rory hadn't gone back to the TARDIS for a heavier coat. After some mistaken identity shenanigans and disbelieving colonists, the meat of the story gets flung on the table in all it's frozen glory in the form of classic Who enemies, The Ice Warriors.

Abnett does a fairly good job. Rory and the Doctor both ring true to form from the TV series. It was hard not to hear the actor's voices in my head while reading. Amy, on the other hand, doesn't get to do much and is on the weaker side of things.

TSSGB felt like an old adaptation of a Doctor Who episode, lots of banter, running from things, and timey-whimey, which was the main problem I had with it. The whole thing felt really thin, like maybe Abnett had written a Doctor Who script at some point and slapped a few descriptions on it. The book was very dialogue-heavy and I could almost pick out where the commercial breaks would go.

Still, it wasn't all bad. There was a twist at the 75% mark, just like a lot of Doctor Who episodes, that was unexpected and saved the book from being a monster of the week affair. Abnett did a lot more with the Ice Warriors than I thought he would and the colony had some secrets of its own. Overall, I enjoyed the experience but I really wanted to love it. 3 out of 5 stars.

Doctor Who: Paradox LostDoctor Who: Paradox Lost by George Mann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory wind up in London in 2789, just in time to see an android dredged from teh Thames. But how could a model of android that's just been created be almost a thousand years old? And what does its warning to the Doctor mean?

I'm not sure why I originally picked this up since I pretty much swore off reading George Mann after so-so experiences with The Affinity Bridge, The Osiris Ritual, and Ghosts of Manhattan. I think what sold me is that the plot description reminded me of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where they found Data's severed head in a cave beneath San Francisco.

This Doctor Who novel was actually the best Eleventh Doctor novel I've read so far. The Doctor, Amy, and Rory were portrayed with more accuracy than I've encountered in the past. The supporting characters, Arven the Android and Archibald Angelchrist, an old man with a past of adventuring, did their part more than adequately.

The plot is a pretty good one and could easily have been an Doctor Who episode. While the Doctor goes back to 1910 to investigate, Rory and Amy stay put in 2789 to check on Professor Gradius, a scientist conducting time travel experiments, only to run into trouble on their own. There's some timey-whimey and the two plotlines converge, complete with running away and the Doctor saving the day.

The threat, the Squall, are a batlike species of hive-minded aliens who invade the two points in time via a rift created by Gradius' experiments. Even though I knew all the main characters would survive, things got pretty tense a few times. The Doctor wrapped things up nicely and the epilogue was pretty fitting.

For once, everything is fish fingers and custard. This is probably as close to a 4 that I'll ever give a Doctor Who novel.

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