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Doctor Who: The Sands of Time

Doctor Who: The Sands of TimeOrder this bookStory: Sometimes even a Time Lord can get ahead of himself, and this adventure is a perfect case of that. The Doctor, along with Nyssa, and Tegan, arrive in 1920s London under the cover of darkness, right in the middle of the British Museum’s Egyptian exibit. It seems, though, that their arrival was expected, as Nyssa is immediately kidnapped and sent back in time to ancient Egypt, by powers not yet known.

So, as expected, The Doctor and Tegan head out to try and deduce what has happened. They leave the Museum and are immediately met by a man who appears to know them both qite well, and tells them that he has been instructed to take them to meet with a Lord Kennelworth. Apparently the Doctor and Tegan, some time in the past, had been with this Lord on an archeological dig in Egypt, where they had instructed him to bring back a specific sarcophagus containing a remarkable mummy. It seems that The Doctor and Tegan had arrived at the precise time for the “unwrapping of the mummy” party, and were shocked to see that the body wrapped with crumbling linens inside the ancient burial casket was not a dried-out corpse…but a seemingly comatose Nyssa!

Review: Oh what a fun book! Not only was it well written, but Nyssa was asleep for nine tenths of it, so we didn’t have to put up with her smarm for very long. I loved the way the Doctor would hear a snippet of what he’d done in the past, but it hadn’t yet actually happened to him. We get to see the events unfold, and the anecdotal refrences all come to pass. There is alot of TARDIS usage in this book, so it seems the Doctor has figured out how to get the “old girl” to work properly without any console banging. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Eye of the Giant

Doctor Who: Eye of the GiantOrder this bookStory: The lost island of Salatua. Cloaked in a veil of alien technology. The hiding place of an alien thief. A giant made of stone.

For 50 years he has remained hidden, but his self-induced exile ends in 1936, when an expedition to this mysterious place makes landfall. Most of the people on board believe that they are scouting for movie locations, yet others have ulterior motives. Greed. Retribution. And justice.

40 years later. A piece of strange ceramic is found in a shark’s stomach. It is brought to UNIT HQ and given to the eccentric Scientific Advisor to examine. Using bits of equipment from his TARDIS (like the dementedly huge Time Space Visualizer last seen in The Chase) he manages to rig up a sort of time bridge to the point of origin of this ceramic shard. Uncontrollable curiosity, and the need to make the book longer than 30 pages, sees the Doctor and Liz shaw step through the time portal, and onto the lost island of Salatua, 40 years in the past!

Review: The island itself holds many more secrets than just an alien thief. Giant crabs. Giant ants. Giant holes in the plot. And yet the “giant” in question is probably only 30 feet high…so, I guess he’s a dwarf giant? So, what exactly is this creature hiding? And why are certain people wanting to ressurect him by dumping him in lava? Continue reading

Doctor Who: The English Way of Death

Doctor Who: The English Way of DeathOrder this bookStory: The Doctor, Romana and K-9 arrive in 1920s London on a important mission: to return some overdue library books. This simple task, however, is to be inturrupted by yet another adventure. You see, there is an ancient time corridor running from the far future to this simpler age, and it is being used by a certain group of people who are using it as their means of retirement. They escape the hustle and bustle of the future, and take the trip (which is a one way trip, mind you) back to an era of piano sing-alongs, gramaphone records, and hours of fun staring at your stereoscope. But this time corridor has sucked something nasty into it. Something which has arrived in London and desires to totally destroy the Earth…The Will Of Zodaal!

Review: Something odd is happening. The Doctor Who books I’m reading of late have (almost) all been really good! Either my extremely critical ways are being softened with age, or the stories are actually getting better! This book is no exception. Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Man in the Velvet Mask

Doctor Who: The Man in the Velvet MaskOrder this bookStory: The Doctor’s body is getting old. He feels the change is near, to slough off his old, withered shape, only to be born anew. He lands, along with Dodo, in what appears to be Revolutionary France. But it is wrong… everything is wrong. Anachronistic technology is in use – Ray Guns, and strange masks of great power. This Paris is ruled by Citizen Marquis De Sade, and his son, Minski. Together they enjoy their power from inside the imposing edifice of the New Bastille. Prostitutes are regularly brought into the Bastille’s laborotories, and rarely, if ever, are they heard from again. Deep in the cells, a man, or what once was a man, sits alone, writing frantically scribbling on fragments of paper. He is Monsieur le 6 – Number 6 – Prisoner 6. He cannot remember who he was, or why he was imprisioned. He does know that the world is not as it should be…And that there are gaps in the air.

The Doctor, in his tired state, allows Dodo to wander off where she meets up with a troupe of wandering actors. One of the company, a girl named Sophie, has vanished, so Dodo reluctantly takes her place on the bill. These actors are preparing to put on a play at the New Bastille for De Sade and Son, but first, the play must be revised so as not to offend. This takes some time, but the troupe’s leader, Fantomas, does not seem bothered by the delay. He too is not as he seems. Is he old? Is he only acting old? Is he a she? Is she Human?

Review: Let me say, what a book! Dan O’Mahoney has done it again! Painting a fantasical world for the Doctor and company to be in. Everyone here is so weird, yet also totally wonderful in their complexity. The scenario, at first, is kind of difficult to imagine the first Doctor in, but as time passes and pages turn, his voice can be heard uttering the words O’Mahoney has penned for him. To have him knowing that his regeneration is near, having him draw strength from the people around him, and his proximity to the TARDIS is dead clever. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Downtime

Doctor Who: DowntimeOrder this bookStory: Twenty some odd years after Victoria leaves the TARDIS, she begins having dreams about Det-sen Monestary in Tibet. She is haunted by strange voices asking for her help. So, she goes to Tibet in search of this voice. There, a bizarre accidend lands her in trouble, releasing the Great Intelligence into the world again.

Victoria returns home and finds out, thanks to some crack legal team, that her father has left her a multi-million pound inheritance, which, at the instruction of this disembodied voice, she uses to set up a computer based University. It is here that the Intelligence is gaining power, waiting to take over the world by using…wait for it……the Internet! How many aliens have had the same idea in the last 40 books or so? Too bloody many!

So, the students at this Computer School are all under mind control, and the machine used to enslave these helpess students? A bloody Walkman. Great. These slaves, all under the control of the so called Intelligence, along with Victoria, are searching for the LOCUS. This is someone, or something that has trapped the Intelligence on Earth ever since the “London Event” (The Web Of Fear).

Enter the Brigadier. He is still teaching at Brendan School (Mawdryn Undead), but it is his last year before retirement. So, now he becomes the focus of the Intelligence’s attention. So, is the Brig the LOCUS? His estranged daughter has also caught the Intelligence’s eye. Perhaps she is this LOCUS?! So, not to make it any more contrived…enter Sarah Jane Smith.

Review: Sometimes a trilogy is necessary to get the point across. “Lord Of The Rings”, The “Tripods” Trilogy, and “Hitchikers’ Guide”, just to name a few. But sometimes, streching it out to three books almost soils the validity of the previous two. Case in point: “Downtime”. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Lords of the Storm

Doctor Who: Lords of the StormOrder this bookStory: Rudra: A gas giant somewhat like Jupiter, around which orbits a multitude of planets. One of these worlds is called Rhagi, and is an idyllic garden spot populated by colonists from a far off Earth. Rhagi gets its energy from a power station which has been built on the neighboring moon of Agni. However, there is a snake which has infiltrated this Eden, hiding unseen just in the undergrowth. This ordinary system has attracted the attentions of two of the most extraordinary, and battle-savvy life forms in the Galaxy. What interest do the gelatinous Rutan and the stout Sontarans have in this quiet little world? What strategic value does this remote backwater hold? Well, it all comes down to three things: location, location, location.

The Doctor and Turlough have arrived on Rhagi after their bloody run-in with the Daleks, the intention being to make some much needed (and long overdue) repairs to the TARDIS. It doesn’t take long before they become embroiled in intrigue. Locals are coming down with what appers to be a bad cold, yet when they are taken to the hospital (in ambulances with blacked-out windows…) they are never heard from again. Of course, the Doctor can’t help but investigate this “disease,” and his inquisitiveness gets him into a whole heap of trouble.

Review: I loved this book. It read like a Target novelisation, and it fits into its era like a glove made of words. This is a Doctor/companion team that has been sadly ignored, and I can’t understand why. Turlough is such an independant character, and doesn’t get pidgeonholed into the same old “dumbfounded Earthling” category that most others do (Peri). His nonchalant attitude to advanced technology is a good example of this. Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Empire of Glass

Doctor Who: The Empire of GlassOrder this bookStory: This adventure takes place in 15th century Venice, where a group of seemingly unrelated (or so you would think) characters are brought together to make the events transpire as they do. Firstly the Doctor, along with Steven and Vicki, are invited to Venice by an unknown person or persons. Of course, along the way there are ample opportunities to engage in all the classic storytelling cliches. The Doctor is mistaken for a high ranking Cardinal, visiting Venice on important business from the Vatican. Galileo is preparing himself (mostly through excessive drinking) for an audience at the Doge, in order to show them his new invention. And who is the strange man who is expecting the Doctor, but upon seeing him in his first incarnation, does not recognise him? But then again, what is Shakespeare doing skulking in the shadows wearing a strange disguise? And all the while, in the skies above, large, beetle-like aliens fly over the city, spying on its inhabitants.

Review: What do all these things have in common? In reality: Nothing. But that’s just the point! It all gets woven together quite well. I was surprised it worked as good as it did, as I was told it was a bad book. All in all it adds up to a very playful read! Continue reading

Doctor Who: Goth Opera

Doctor Who: Goth OperaOrder this bookStory: A TARDIS arrives in Manchester, 1993, where some young human-born vampires have established a feeding ground. But it’s not the Doctor’s TARDIS – instead, a Time Lady named Ruath has come to gather local vampires to help her unearth and revive a “vampire messiah” descended from the Great Vampire banished by Rassilon. Having traced the Doctor’s fifth incarnation to the present day, Ruath sends the vampires out to collect Time Lord blood for their messiah, but instead they claim Nyssa as one of their own. Nyssa eventually leaves the Doctor and Tegan behind, joining Ruath, the revived Yarven, and a growing number of new vampire initiates. When an abrupt nightfall occurs during daylight hours, only then does the Doctor realize that Yarven and Ruath plan to plunge Earth into eternal night – and to turn its human population into either new vampire followers…or food.

Review: It’s nigh-impossible to tell a straightforward vampire story in the Doctor Who mythos, thanks to a 1980 four-parter, State Of Decay, that inextricably intertwined vampire and Time Lord iconography. Paul Cornell manages to build on that even further, even drawing The Curse Of Fenric‘s bloodsucking haemovores into the fold. It all hangs together quite well, and Cornell makes excellent (and quite disturbing) use of existing vampire lore. (Apparently bookstores and distributors were disturbed by Alistair Pearson’s cover art – though the bloodier version was taken directly from a scene in the book, it was toned down before hitting the stores.) Continue reading

Doctor Who: Millennial Rites

Doctor Who: Millennial RitesOrder this bookStory: Just days before New Year’s Eve, 1999 – presumably while his seventh self is turning into his eighth somewhere across the Atlantic – the sixth Doctor and Mel visit London, where the Doctor attends a celebration of the life and career of Anne Travers, who, at a much younger age, helped the second Doctor and his companions defeat the Yeti. Since then she has been serving as the British government’s leading scientific advisor, but a dark cloud hangs over her – she constantly fears the return of the Great Intelligence. In the meantime, Mel attends a college class reunion, and though she’s unable to explain away her lack of aging, the greater mystery comes in the form of a former classmate’s plea. Mel is asked to hack into Ashley Chapel Logistics, a London-based worldwide software conglomerate, to uncover an unspecified dark secret. As it turns out, Ashley Chapel himself, head of the company that shares his name, has gathered dark powers in his new software, which will be unleashed on New Year’s Eve. Even though the Doctor arrives at ACL just before midnight to thwart this deadly scheme, he is powerless to stop Chapel from transforming the world into a place where magic is real…and where the Doctor’s worst nightmare can overtake him at any moment.

Review: I really did like most of this book. The extremely brief on-screen adventures of the sixth Doctor and Melanie were just enough to convince me that they would’ve continued to make an appealing team. Both personalities are captured well by Craig Hinton, and the first 2/3 of “Millennial Rites” – setting aside, for the moment, the question of whether or not New Year’s Eve 1999 truly constitutes the eve of the new millennium – are extremely interesting and suspenseful. But when midnight hits and the foreplay is over, the sinister secret turns out to be a transformation of the Earth into a world somewhere between Mirror, Mirror and Magic: The Gathering…with sometimes silly results. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Managra

Doctor Who: ManagraOrder this bookStory: 1613. The Globe Theatre in London has been burnt down by one of Shakespeare’s rivals, Francis Pearson. But, during Pearson’s escape from the crime scene, he encounters what he believes is the Devil himself, and is quickly posessed.

2000 years later, and the world has changed…but not much. All the overcities are gone (see Original Sin) but one, and it is the home of the New Vatican. The world is awash with history – quite literally. A multitude of Englands, Frances, Germanies, all built to reflect different periods of history, all existing together. Famous names from bygone ages all live here together, and sometimes more than one of each! There are three Lord Byrons, two Casanovas, Mary Shelley, a Borgia, Johann Faust, Cardinal Richelieu, the Four Musketeers, just to name a few. These clones, or “reprises” as they are called, roam about having adventures, generally existing merely to provide a more realistic historic atmosphere. These reprises all came from the same place – The Theartre of Transmogrification, which roams the world at the controls of its ringleader, who is known only as Personna.

But what is MANAGRA? Miles Dashing of Dashwood would love to know. It was his dying father’s last word, and he has been searching for the secret of its meaning ever since.

Review: I don’t know what to say about this book. Was it good or bad? There is so much subterfuge and subplotting, that you almost become bogged down in it all. But then, just when you feel like you’re being led down the garden path, you get a few Vampires thrown in to stir up the pot. Continue reading