The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Archive for the category “tenth doctor”

Book Review: Revenge of the Judoon by Terrance Dicks

Revenge of the Judoon by Terrance Dicks
Quick Reads #3 – Tenth Doctor
Featuring the Doctor, Martha Jones, and the Judoon

Rating: C

Of the three Quick Reads I have tackled so far, Revenge of the Judoon engaged me the least. I really like the Judoon as an alien species, and I think it is pretty damn cool that Uncle Terry is open to taking on monsters that didn’t exist in the show until decades after he stopped writing for the television side of Who. He seems to know the Judoon well enough, and that’s good.

The plot itself is a bit weak; it is essentially the same as “Smith and Jones,” the episode that showed the Judoon for the first time, but set in 1902 Scotland rather than contemporary London. The Judoon show up looking for somebody, and in the process uproot and steal a castle they believe their target to be residing in. Like I said, same plot.

Luckily, the characterization of the Doctor and Martha is quite good, and Dicks creates a quite likable supporting character in Harry Carruthers. Despite the problems with not having a lot of words to work with, Carruthers is a very well developed and likable character. It is always a positive when a tie-in manages to add new characters that are at least interesting. Sherlock Holmes fans will probably take something from this as well, as Arthur Conan Doyle has a few brief scenes in the story.

As it is, this one just didn’t grab me nearly as much, mostly due to the lack of originality of plot. It was still mildly enjoyable, though, because Dicks is a good writer who always seems to write good characters. Still can’t say I’ve ever really disliked anything he’s written.

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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.

Book Review: The Sontaran Games by Jacqueline Rayner

The Sontaran Games by Jacqueline Rayner
Quick Reads #4 – Tenth Doctor
Featuring the Doctor and Sontarans

Rating: B-

I didn’t really know what to expect going into these Quick Reads aside from the obvious brevity that is required for it to actually be a quick read. On that front, this novel(la) really delivers: it comes in at about 100 pages and I read it in about an hour and a half, and that’s with being distracted by the television at the same time.

Set in the companion-free period after the end of Series Four, the Doctor stumbles upon an Earth athletic training facility only to find that a string of mysterious deaths are giving the athletes-in-training a bit of trouble. The Sontarans have made an appearance, and decide that it would be great fun to enslave all of the athletes and force them to compete to the death as a means of seeing what the best of humanity are capable of when it comes to sprints, long jumps, and other sports of track and field.

The nicest thing about a book in the Quick Read series is that there isn’t any worry that it will take fifty pages for the Doctor to finally show up; he’s right there on the first page, swinging the doors of the TARDIS open and getting right into the nitty-gritty. The prose is okay but hardly awe-inspiring, and the dialogue occasionally leaves something to be desired despite Rayner clearly having a pretty good grasp on the Tenth Doctor as a character.

Plot wise, I was pleasantly surprised by The Sontaran Games. The murder mystery aspect coupled with an absolute blood bath of a book (about one death per dozen pages or so), its a lot of fun while also putting the deliciously sadistic Sontarans to very good use. There’s a bit of a twist at the end that I might have seen coming if I was really paying serious attention but as it was I was surprised and liked it. I can certainly see the appeal in these quick reads, especially if the plots are always this solid.

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