Title: The Silent Stars Go By
Author: Dan Abnett
Genre: Sci-fi (Doctor Who tie-in)
Format: Various, available from Amazon (I read the paperback)
Date Read: 17/04/2014 – 22/04/2014
I would say I very rarely actually read Doctor Who novels, but in the few months I’ve been writing book reviews on this blog, this is the second one I’ve reviewed, so you probably wouldn’t believe me. This one was much better than “The Two Doctors”, though, which was quite a relief!
I won this novel in a giveaway hosted by Amira Makansi probably getting on for a year ago now, but it’s taken me this long to get around to reading it. How I wish I had bothered sooner! It has all the good things (I’ll get to that in a minute). It does require you to have a working knowledge of the 11th Doctor/Ponds era of Doctor Who, but with a big Doctor Who logo emblazoned on the cover, I doubt anyone unfamiliar with the franchise is really that likely to pick it up.
The story begins with Amy and Rory expecting the Doctor to take them home to Leadworth for Christmas 2011, but things don’t look promising when they emerge from the TARDIS on a snow-covered forest. Rory makes the mistake of going back to the TARDIS alone to retrieve a coat, and that is of course when things start going wrong.
The Doctor and Amy are taken prisoner by the Morphans, a colony of humans who have been on this planet for twenty-seven generations, slowly terra-forming it to be more Earth-like. Rory is chased by a green giant with glowing red eyes and nearly drowns. He escapes from that only to be hit on the head by another Morphan woman who seems to have been running from the same creature.
The three leads in their two separate locations soon start to puzzle out what’s going wrong in the human colony, what with the livestock being killed and the stars moving in the sky. Ice Warriors, a favourite Doctor Who adversary of mine, make an appearance, though we discover later that they are not the only ones causing grief for the Morphans.
I really loved the philosophical atmosphere to this novel, even though I figured most of it out pretty quickly. The Morphans refer to a deity known as Guide, the holy words of whom can only be accessed in the on the Emanual (geddit? Like Emanuel? Because it’s a Christmas story? Sort of?) in the Incrypt. As you may be able to put together, over the 27 generations they have been on this planet, their religion has developed from the remains of the computer that brought their ancestors there.
The Doctor’s discussions with the Ice Warriors about honour vs. pragmatism were also really enjoyable. The Doctor’s respect for them as a race really shone through, even as he told them off for what they were doing (namely, trying to steal the colony from the humans).
Dan Abnett captured the Eleventh Doctor’s voice really well, as well as Amy and Rory’s. I could see the Doctor’s silly grin as he smugly points out flaws in the Ice Warriors’ plans, and Amy’s fierce glare when she is being plagued by giant rats and is pretty unimpressed about it. Rory was also making use of his nurse’s training, and it was in regards to his own well-being, so that was good to see.
There were a couple of running jokes that got old after a little while, so that was annoying, and an about half-to-two-thirds of the way through, an awful lot of time was spent running away from things (which I know is par for the course in Doctor Who, but works better on TV than in written form). Apart from being able to predict the nature of several things, those were really the only two aspects that annoyed me.
Oh, and did I mention the chapter titles were all lines from Christmas carols? Because I adored that. But then I’m a sucker for Christmas-y themed stories.
So I guess my main conclusion from this novel is “Yay, not all Doctor Who novels suck!” I think I might stick to the more recent ones. 🙂