The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Archive for the category “eleventh doctor”

Book Review: New Series Adventures – Nuclear Time by Oli Smith

Nuclear Time by Oli Smith
New Series Adventures #34 – Eleventh Doctor (#4)
Featuring the Doctor, Amy, and Rory

Rating: A

I fully expected to dislike this. Having thought that Oli Smith’s recent Eleventh Doctor audio adventure “The Runaway Train” was absolute garbage, I rightly expected Nuclear Time to not be my cup of tea. As it turns out, Nuclear Time is my new favorite Doctor Who novel, with the only other one coming close being Steve Lyon’s Second Doctor adventure The Murder Game. Smith’s prose is strong, and his grasp of the main characters very good, but more notably the plot and supporting characters of Nuclear Time are outstanding.

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves in Appletown, a mysterious and quiet little cookie-cutter village out in the middle of the Colorado desert in early 1980s. They quickly realize something is awry: all the residents of the idyllic neighborhood happen to be androids, and the village was built for the sole purpose of being nuked to wipe out the robot threat. In trying to escape and prevent the nuclear explosion that could lead to the escalation of the Cold War, the Doctor gets trapped in a strange time phenomenon, and begins going backwards in intervals through time as he tries to peace together all the information he needs to change the course of events once his backwards motion through time crosses the point at which everything goes to hell.

I was thoroughly impressed with the two major supporting characters of this novel. Doctor Albert Gilroy is a brilliant scientist well ahead of his time who invented the androids that have now become a menace. Gilroy has spent the majority of his adult life dedicated to these androids and struggles with the idea of their destruction, no matter how much trouble they have caused. Major Geoffrey Redvers is a military man involved in the project, and the closest thing Albert has ever had to a friend in his adult life. Isley is the first android, and the most sophisticated, of whom Albert is most proud and dedicated, who Albert may try anything to save from the blast.

I was astonished at how well Smith developed the supporting characters; I genuinely felt invested in the stories of Doctor Gilroy and Major Redvers by the end, and was really left wanting more. I feel so strongly about this novel that I would say, despite series five been excellent, if this were an episode from that wonderful year, it would easily make my top two or three episodes. Any Doctor Who fan should read this novel; it is an absolutely indispensable tie-in.


Book Review: New Series Adventures – The King’s Dragon by Una McCormack

The King’s Dragon by Una McCormack
New Series Adventures #35 – Eleventh Doctor (#5)
Featuring the Doctor, Amy, and Rory

Rating: D+

The Doctor, Rory, and Amy stumble upon the polis of Gaeth, where a wealthy king rules all. The Doctor quickly explains that in previous experience with the area, they were a republic, not a monarchy, so immediately he decides is something awry and needs fixing. They find that the city is full of secrets, and a strange creature seems to have a strong hold on the population. It is an obvious nod to the classic work Beowulf, but doesn’t have the same feel as the original work. It doesn’t feel like the plot substantiated itself enough to be actual worth delving into the world built in the work of classic literature.

Although it starts pretty strong, I never felt like The King’s Dragon was able to capture my imagination in the way some of the other books have. McCormack writes well, with strong prose and clearly a very firm grasp on who her three main characters are, but the fantasy-heavy story had trouble grabbing me. There is some good here, and the similarities to Beowulf were creative and cool, but I just couldn’t get into the plot. It ticks all the boxes of being bearable: solid prose, and knows the main characters, but without the story to keep interest it really isn’t worthwhile. I wouldn’t shy away from McCormack in the future, though; since she does know these characters and writes well, I think with the write plot she is perfectly capable of writing a great Doctor Who novel. This just isn’t it.

Book Review: New Series Adventures – The Glamour Chase by Gary Russell

The Glamour Chase by Gary Russell
New Series Adventures #36 – Eleventh Doctor (#6)
Featuring the Doctor, Amy, Rory, and the Tahnn

Rating: C

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves on England, 1936, where an archeological dig has unearthed a space ship that has rested dormant for thousands of years, with its inhabitants in stasis. The Doctor and his companions’ memories seem to be affected by some strange force, with Amy thinking the Doctor is from Mars, for some reason.

Trouble is to be had when another alien race of people who were chasing this ship show up looking for them. They wreck havoc along the way, and a pretty much big ol’ meanie heads. Pretty standard story overall, but I still quite liked it because of excellent characterization of Rory as a companion. Gary Russell actually seems to write Rory better than the TV writers do, which makes this something of a breath of fresh air in the world of Doctor Who companion characterization. There are a lot of references to other things in Doctor Who lore (Bernice Summerfield, a past incarnation of the Doctor, among other things) that will keep tie-in nerds happy, which is kinda neato.

Book Review: New Series Adventures – The Forgotten Army by Brian Minchin

The Forgotten Army by Brian Minchin
New Series Adventures #33 – Eleventh Doctor (#3)
Featuring the Doctor, Amy, and the Vykoids

Rating: D

This was easily the weakest of the three in the first batch of Eleventh Doctor books. It was pretty awful, and never grabbed me the way the other two managed to. I found myself spending most of the book frustrated at sub-par characterization of Amy Pond. The Doctor was played fine, not great, but good. Amy, however, seemed like another character entirely, far too in-your-face and basically unlikable, which isn’t what Amy is like in the show. Granted, these writers did these books before much of the Eleventh Doctor had aired, so there wasn’t much to work with, but the other writers did a better job, and they DID at least read scripts or see a few episodes, because they are alluded to in the books.

Essentially what this novel boils down to is poop jokes. Potty humor everywhere, with humorous inch-high aliens that are often dealt with by stepping on them. The aforementioned miniature aliens arrive in a fake wooly mammoth, which makes its debut by pooping everywhere. Seriously. If you like Doctor Who at its most absurd, with poor characterization and the kind of humor you would expect out of MTV’s Jackass, then this is the Doctor Who novel for you.

Book Review: New Series Adventures – Night of the Humans by David Llewellyn

Night of the Humans by David Llewellyn
New Series Adventures #32 – Eleventh Doctor (#2)
Featuring Amy, the Doctor, & the Sittuun

Rating: B

While the first Eleventh Doctor novel, Justin Richards’ Apollo 23 was fun, albeit a bit paint by numbers and borrowed heavily from a previous story, David Llewellyn’s Night of the Humans was a wholly original and overwhelmingly entertaining Doctor Who story.

Llewellyn’s characterization of the featured characters was no better or worse than Richards, with a strong grasp of The Doctor and perhaps a slightly improved feel for Amy Pond’s character. Where Llewellyn managed to surpass Apollo 23 was in creating an outstanding supporting cast. The new characters introduced in the novel are instantly distinct, and in the case of most, quite likable. By the end of the book, there are new characters that I felt genuinely sad to be gone, and I really hope they’re along for a future installment in the series.

Night of the Humans follows The Doctor and Amy as they arrive on The Gyre, a flat planet created by space junk from nearby galaxies combining in an area of high gravity. It is an interesting and jagged terrain of metal scraps, so vast it has its own atmosphere. The Doctor is quickly abducted by a society of barbaric humans, while Amy is taken by a gray, bald race of humanoids called the Sittuun. When Amy realizes that the humans are the ones to fear, she persuades them to aid her in rescuing the Doctor, while dealing with the minor problem of a gigantic comet on a collision course with the planet.

I would highly recommend Night of the Humans to anyone interested in going from a Doctor Who watcher to a Doctor Who reader. It is consistently fun, engaging, well written, and quite memorable. I loved the tone of the story, with a very sci-fi pulp sort of feel. If you take out the Doctor, it seems like one of those novels you’d get off of a spinner rack with a ridiculous cover in the 1960s. I mean this as a compliment.

Book Review: New Series Adventures – Apollo 23 by Justin Richards

Apollo 23 by Justin Richards
New Series Adventures #31 – Eleventh Doctor (#1)
Featuring the Doctor, Amy, & the Talerians

Rating: C

Although I was nervous about how well the Doctor Who novelists would be able to capture the personality of the Eleventh Doctor in the new series of novels, I am happy to report that Justin Richards knows his Doctor Who, and some how knows the Eleventh Doctor. It is really easy to read Apollo 23 because it feels like an episode of the show, with strong characterization of the main character. Amy comes across as pretty generic, but that doesn’t seem so much a fault of Richards as a compliment to Ms. Gillan’s portrayal on screen. Its hard to pinpoint a character after so short a time, and its remarkable he manages to do it for the Doctor.

The story is pretty simple, and is pretty close to a previous Doctor Who serial from the Second Doctor’s run, “The Seeds of Death.” The majority of the story takes place on a moon base operated by the United States government. A two-way portal from the Texan desert to the moon base is something like T-mat, but not quite, and it has been sabotaged. Everyone knows something is wrong when an astronaut appears in a shopping mall, and the bodies of a woman and her dog appear on the surface of the moon. Conveniently, The Doctor and Amy are there to step in and figure things out.

Apollo 23 starts out very strong, and manages to maintain interest throughout although it does get a little slow towards the middle. It is an overall fun story, though it could have used a few more “character” moments for the Doctor and Amy. These are new characters and for many of us, the books are here for us to get a better view of their personality. Perhaps both the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of Apollo 23 is that it is just like an episode of the show. It won’t blow any minds but it is certainly fun, and a very quick read.

Note: I originally wrote this review about a week after its release, so most of Series Five was yet to air.

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