The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Book Review: Made of Steel by Terrance Dicks

Made of Steel by Terrance Dicks
Quick Reads #2 – Tenth Doctor
Featuring the Doctor, Martha Jones, and the Cybermen

Rating: B-

Terrance Dicks is often criticized for the rather pedestrian efforts he made in the dozens and dozens of Target novelizations he did, but he’s still one of the most important writers in the show’s history, having helmed the Third Doctor’s entire era as script editor, and contributed to some classic stories like “The War Games.” Made of Steel is the third original Doctor Who novel I have read of his, and I have enjoyed each of them.

Made of Steel is essentially a sequel to the Series Two finale, with a handful of Cybermen being left behind on our Earth due to the fact that they were created after entering this dimension, and thus were not sucked back through the Void when it closed. Pretty clever premise. Unfortunately, due to the required brevity of the quick read series, Dicks didn’t have a lot of time to work out an epic story, but this still ended up being an enjoyable romp.

Dicks has a remarkably strong grasp of the Tenth Doctor. He has to be one of the few people to write for every Doctor from Second on to Tenth (except the Ninth) and has done a good job of writing the Doctor in all of these incarnations. I think overall Made of Steel is a better written story than The Sontaran Games, the other Quick Read I’ve reviewed, and the character building is more substantial, despite the story’s length. The Sontaran Games was more generally engaging and intense, but Made of Steel was equally enjoyable, despite being a bit lighter.

It’s hardly an awe-inspiring book. That being said, it is really cool to see Uncle Terry still contributing to the Doctor Who canon (Yes, canon until proven otherwise) after all these years. I’d love to see the BBC Wales series bring him back to write a new television episode, but being that this is unlikely, I’m glad he’s still doing it in written form.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Made of Steel by Terrance Dicks

  1. I love Terrance Dicks. I have knwon him for his novelisations since I was small and the first televised story i watched was his Five Doctors. I can’t count ho wmany times I must have read Timewyrm Exodus.

    • I’ve read the first four Virgin New Adventures so far, and I definitely think Timewyrm: Exodus is my favorite. It’s a great book.

      • The first two are rather forgettable. Timewyrm Exodus is a great novel, but is a little old fashioned. Timewyrm Revelation was the one that really defined the direction of the New Adventure novels and set their course.

      • If all of the New Adventures from then on are like Timewyrm: Revelation, I won’t enjoy the series very much frankly. I admire it for its scope and it epic ambition, but I think it was nearly incomprehensible most of the time; extremely hard to follow what was going on. It was like an acid trip of a Doctor Who novel. I still sort of liked it, but didn’t lovei t.

    • There not all exactly like that, although there is a tendency to overuse dream sequences that becomes an NA cliche.

      Timewyrm Revelation set the direction more in terms of ideas, the interpretation of the Doctor, the high angst levels and the more experimental approach to writing.

      Based on your reviews of other stories, I suspect you won’t enjoy the Cat’s Cradle series all that much, though you might find Witch Mark okay. I imagine you might like Mark Gatiss’ Nightshade. After those novels, you will probably like Blood Heat, by Jim Mortimore, a lot just because you like the Eocenes and don’t mind violence.

      • I’m a big cyberpunk fan so I’m pretty excited to get to “Transit.” We’re reviewing “Love and War” for the podcast soon, too.

      • Love and War is really excellent.

        I am having to re-read Transit. It is really hard to understand on the first read, though not nearly as much as Gibson’s Neuromancer.

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