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Doctor Who: Head Games

Doctor Who: Head GamesOrder this bookStory: Demons. We all have them. Those skeletons we keep in our closets. Our little vices we con ourselves into believing are not bad for us. We all do things that, even if they appear to be rotten, are for the greater good. The seventh incarnation of the Doctor has demons. One in particular. One which he doesn’t have to look too far inside himself to find: The Valeyard. Does his chess-playing with his companions as pawns draw him nearer to becoming the dark version of himself? Or did his last regeneration prevent this from ever taking place? This adventure has him playing God once again. However, it is no longer out of a sense of fair play. It is because his constant meddling has screwed up the fabric of time so badly, that it is now out of obligation…

Review: The Doctor is haunted by the ghost of his former self, who taunts him, asking for his life back. Asking him why he wanted to live so badly that he would kill his sixth incarnation, in a selfish act, just to exist. Did he force his former self to hit his head on the console upon landing on Lakertya, causing him to regenerate? Did he really want to live that badly that he could sacrifice his former self in order to exist? Or, was it for the greater good as well? Continue reading

Doctor Who: Toy Soldiers

Doctor Who: Toy SoldiersOrder this bookStory: There is a planet where War has raged for 1400 years. Where the opposing forces no longer have any concept of how a War ends, how the war began, or even what the word “peace” means. No, it’s not Earth, but most of the unwilling combatants are not only from Earth, but are children. These unsuspecting soldiers are being kidnapped from early in the 20th century, from an alredy War-ravaged europe. The vehicle used to transport the children across Space looks like nothing more than a simple, cuddly teddy bear. The creatures who are employed to lure these poor children to battle are not hideous insectoids, or amorphous blobs, but they too resemble large, human sized teddy bears.

The disappearing children have not gone unnoticed. Of course their parents are aware their children have gone missing, but so is the Doctor. He and Bernice are in 1920s England, and have gone native in order to blend in with the populace. Bernice has got herself a job in the very factory where these transmat teddy bears are packaged and sent out. It is not a true factory, however, as there is no manufacturing equipment. The already-made bears arrive in the morning by lorry, are packed for shipping, then sent out that night. Millions of them have been sent out, each of them a remote transmat device, and each in the hands of a child. Millions of children, which means millions of new recruits…

Review: Is today the day the teddy bears have their picnic? Thankfully, all these questions are answered. And even more thankfully, they don’t get answered in a book called “Invasion Of The Bear-People” by Gary Russell! But seriously…this was another in a series (though not in a row) of fine Doctor Who books. I cannot begin to describe how nice it is to read a book that not only is supposed to fit in a genre, but actually does fit! Continue reading

Doctor Who: Zamper

Doctor Who: ZamperOrder this bookStory: In a pocket-dimension some time in the future is the planet Zamper. For hundreds of years it has been flawlessly and expertly run by the mysterious Management as an extremely profitable ship-building enterprise. Zamper will supply any race of creature, with enough money, battleships of superior design, which will outlast and outblast all other ships in the Galaxy. These ships are much sought after, as they have the ability to tip the balance of any war to the owners’ favor. There are only two problems on this world: The Management is not what he appears to be, and he…it…is apparently dying. And the Doctor has arrived. The latest customers of Zamper’s wares are the Chelonians, who have sent two representatives to purchase a battleship. The sparsely employed planet has done everything to make their customers comfortable, although a couple of badly timed power failures have bruised the unmarred reputation of this planet and has lowered the Chelonians’ confidence in humans even more. The Doctor, with his party of three, arrive on Zamper quite by accident (of course), and on a planet that has never had unannounced visitors, this has raised some concern…

Review: That is all I am going to reveal about this book. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and periodically felt as if I was reading a novelisation. It is one of those stories which, given a BBC budget, could’ve worked a treat on the small screen. There are very few characters (less actors to pay) and the true enemy protagonist(s) are kept secret until very near the end. I got a huge kick out of the Chelonians’ interactions with each other, and with the humans (or “Parasites” as they call us). Apparently we smell like sour milk and are not very smart, in comparison to giant turtles anyway. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Sky Pirates!

Doctor Who: Sky Pirates!Order this bookStory: In a dark region of what is not our Universe, sits a creature that, thanks to the Time Lords, never existed. Sitting in the heart of a Sun, it watches over millions of other creatures who never existed, infiltrating their minds and actions, out of sheer boredom.

Somewhere, an ancient Time-weapon is detonated, causing the TARDIS to be torn from the “real” Universe, and be dragged into this separate, quite silly place, where the “thing inside,” as it is called, is waiting. Separated from the TARDIS, Bernice and the Doctor are captured by pirates, who are influenced into searching for the legendary Eyes of Schirron. These four “eyes” apparently do something special when they are brought together and taken to a certain special place – according to the legends, that is. One is hidden on each of the four planets in the system, and are guarded by ingenious traps of sinister design!

Review: This whole book is filled with sad puns, jokes that are not funny, long-winded descriptions of bodily functions, and a writing style that makes Douglas Adams look like a Poet Laureate. Writing a Sci-fi book is one thing, but writing a funny Sci-fi book does not always work. In this case, the characters we know (the Doctor, etc…) suffer horribly at the hands of this author, and the characters created by the author seem to have motives which defy all logic. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Original Sin

Doctor Who: Original SinOrder this bookStory: In the 30th Century, the many tentacled arms of Earth’s Empire stretch across most of the Galaxy. Both the willing and unwilling cultures are incorporated into the ever growing web of assimilation. At the center of this web sits Earth itself, like a hungry arachnid, slowly devouring all who dare enter her parlour. The new spaceport cities float on massive anti-gravity devices over the ruins of old Earth. All manner of races must come through these overcities on their way on or off the planet. But, just as it is today, so it is 1000 years from now – Foreigners are treated poorly, disliked, and mistrusted, for no better reason than they are not Human.

Somewhere in Spaceport Overcity Five, a madman is releasing a dangerous form of radiation which is driving people to kill and not remember their attacks afterwards. This man has lived for over 1000 years, growing increasingly insane in his thirst for revenge on the man who had caused him pain – who thwarted his his plans for conquest so many years ago. He wants his revenge on the Doctor, and his desire to own the TARDIS clouds his mind with every waking moment…

Review: This was a fun book to read. After the spectacular exploits in the previous New Adventure “Human Nature”, (which, in short, I give a 9 out of 10) I didn’t expect to get another good one so soon. The dim view of humanity is not quite the Starfleet model, yet it doesn’t surprise me to see xenophobia as the main behavioral trait on Earth in the 30th Century. I mean, after all, isn’t that what it is like now? Wasn’t it like that 1000 years ago? The more things change… Continue reading

Doctor Who: Human Nature

Doctor Who: Human NatureOrder this bookStory: The Doctor makes a mysterious decision to obtain a telepathic pod from an omnivorous, occasionally cannibalistic, shapeshifting race of aliens known as the Aubertides. He stores his own knowledge and personality in the pod – as well as detailed genetic information – and turns himself, both physically and psychologically, into John Smith, history teacher, a perfectly ordinary human (with odd gaps in his memory) teaching at a boys’ school in 1914. Bernice is left to fend for herself as the Doctor pursues whatever mystery has compelled him to undergo such a drastic change. In the process of discovering what it means to be human, the former Time Lord falls in love with a local woman who is attracted to his simplicity and gentle nature – but when the Aubertides storm the countryside, discovering that they have done business with a Time Lord and trying to track down his regenerative DNA to save their dying race, “Doctor John Smith” must risk everything and everyone to protect his fellow humans.

Review: Probably the best original novel ever to hit the shelves with the Doctor Who logo on its cover, this extremely atypical book is either loved or hated, depending on which segment of fandom you ask. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Sanctuary

Doctor Who: SanctuaryOrder this bookStory: The Doctor and Bernice are forced to abandon the TARDIS, which is caught in some form of temporal rift, and take refuge in the Jade Pagoda (the “lifeboat” of the TARDIS, as it were. What I don’t understand is why this pagoda thingie mimics the Police Box shape the TARDIS is stuck in?! As if the Time Lords designed it to look like a Buddhist temple with a green flashing light on top! Somebody explain it to me!). This lifeboat takes them to the closest habitable M-Class planet, which just by chance, is Earth. Not only that, but to add to the fun, it dumps them in 11th century Europe! I doesn’t take long after their arrival for the gimmick to be engaged – The Doctor and Bernice become seperated.

The Doctor, who impersonates a high-ranking royal observer, becomes embroiled in court intrigue while in the company of the bad guys of the story, while Bernice ends up in the fortress of the good guys, one of whom is actually named Guy. They call this hilltop fortress (or Sanctuary, as it were) “The Roc.” With the Templars and the Inquisition roaming the countryside, all trying to “convert” heritics to the side of the true God by killing them, these non-believers need a place to hide out. So here they find shelter, food, and no diety-discrimination at this Sanctuary. At The Roc, they know their role, and are kept safe from the bad guys, no questions asked. These bad guys want to lay the smackdown on The Roc, so they can get their hands on some odd religious artifact that will guarantee that head-bad guy can rise to the office of Pope.

Review: Does it get any better than that?! The first 1/4 of this book is slow, and I began to wonder if anything was going to happen. But once the Doctor & co. arrive, business picks up considerably. It was kind of odd reading a Doctor Who story with no aliens or sci-fi aspects, but I really got into it. At some points I could actually smell what The Roc was cookin’! Continue reading

Doctor Who: Infinite Requiem

Doctor Who: Infinite RequiemOrder this bookStory: There is a war raging over the planet Gadrell Major between Humans and the Phracton Swarm. But there is another enemy on this world which is more dangerous than both sides put together…

There is a pregnant woman on Earth in the year 1997. But the child she carries is not quite human. It is a creature who has the power to destroy the entire world…

Pridka Dream Centre, a space station in the distant future built to treat and hone all manner of Psychic dysfunction. Unannounced, they have just received a visitor with a particular disorder untreatable at this facility…

What is the common thread that weaves these three, seemingly separate storylines into one?

Review: So, let me start by saying that this is not a great book. I kind of had to force my way through it. The story begins on the war raged planet where these Phracton blokes are hell-bent on aquiring the rights to this world at any cost. The Humans who didn’t get away on the escape ships have ended up being frightened scavengers. One of these sad foragers has found a woman buried under a pile of rubble. But, this is no ordinary woman. This is a powerful Sensopath! A creature of incredible mental ability, able to channel the mental powers of herself and others to be used for Evil! We shall call her Shanstra. What could be the motives behind her hidden rage? Well, I had to wait until the last few chapters to get this explained to me. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Set Piece

Doctor Who: Set PieceOrder this bookStory: Somebody has been punching holes in the time-space vortex, and it is through these holes that aliens are abducting humans. But for what reason? The Doctor hears tales of these kidnappings, and brings Ace along to find out why it is happening, where they are being taken, and who is responsible for doing it. The Doctor leaves Bernice behind to rescue them, in case something goes wrong, but what could possibly go wrong? Well, Ace and the Doctor go on a trip in a hyperspace liner, and sure enough, mid-trip, the bad guys show up and board the vessel. We see the crew and passengers, including our two intrepid heroes, captured by man-sized metal ants, and taken to some sort of processing plant. There they are put into cryogenic freeze, where they await some sinister form of knowledge-sucking, intelligence-draining, experimentations! The Doctor is repeatedly made the subject of these tests, yet he regularly escapes and confounds his captors, causing much bother in the meantime.

Review: So, these three storylines run separately for most of the book, and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. And I’m not saying this just because it is Ace’s swansong – she was one of the good parts! Her character ran its course quite suitably, and she leaves with no hard feelings for the Doctor, or her experiences. I do realise that is is not actually Ace I dislike, it is just the way she has been portrayed. I mean, Sophie Aldred was a pretty bad actress (don’t argue, just get your tapes out and review them, you’ll see…), so trying to make something on paper, out of what can only be described as crappy performances, is quite a feat. I won’t miss her at all, as I find Bernice to be a much more realistic person. (Who in the world goes around calling themselves “Ace”? It is quite sad, really…) Continue reading

Doctor Who: Warlock

Doctor Who: WarlockOrder this bookStory: “Warlock”, to put it plainly, is a book about drugs, and the people who use them in the search for some form of enlightenment. The main drug used in theis novel is aptly named, “Warlock.” Its properties are quite complex, it enhances and intensifies the mindset of the user. It can take you within yourself, feeding your present emotional state. If you are filled with self-doubt, you become a snivelling groveller. If you are confident, it gives you a sense of power over it, and others. Now, as with most narcotics, the trouble comes when too much is used, causing your mind to wander, literally. As in, leave your body and move about. The Doctor, who has been resting up on Earth for about a year, ever since that last weak adventure in the inside-out planet (see “Parasite”), has taken interest in the strange aspects of this new drug. He plays a very minor role here, acting as the chess player again – moving his pieces around the board of human experience. Bernice is sent to infiltrate the workings of the “International Drug Enforcement Agency” (I.D.E.A), who are also showing an unusual amount of interest in this drug. And Ace is captured by a group of scientists running a drug experimentation lab, where they test drugs on animals for the pharmaceutical companies. These so-called “scientists” feed her a dose of Warlock 100 times greater than any street-level user could find or afford. This, of course, causes her mind to go walkabout, ending up in the body of a cat. A very unusual effect of a very unusual drug indeed…

Review: Now let me say this – there are quite a few disturbing parts to this book. The detailed and clinical descriptions of animal experimentation for one. Don’t get me wrong, I am no prude, but this was pretty graphic. As a cat lover, it ain’t that great to read about cats being tortured just because somebody is in a bad mood. And then the sex – well, not really sex, but various sexually themed accounts. You know, a breast here, a nipple there, some heavy breathing, and a painful abortion thrown in for good effect. It’s all go in “Warlock”. Continue reading