Monday, November 4, 2013

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Librarian in the TARDIS, Review 11.2

Title: The Silent Stars Go By
Author: Dan Abnett
Team TARDIS: Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Adversary: The Ice Warriors
Originally Released: September 2011
Range and Number: New Series Adventures

Synopsis (from TARDIS Wikia) -
The winter festival is approaching for the hardy colony of Morphans, but no one is in the mood to celebrate. They're trying to build a new life on a cold new world, but each year gets harder and harder. It's almost as if some dark force is working against them. Then three mysterious travellers arrive out of the midwinter night, one of them claiming to be a doctor. Are they bringing the gift of salvation or doom? And what else might be lurking out there, about to wake up?

My Review:
(Nothing like a cold and snowy Sunday to motivate me to finish a novel featuring a cold and snowy planet.)

Biggest Revelation Of This Book: “Cold War” was not the first time the Eleventh Doctor encountered the Ice Warriors.

(Kind of takes the reveal out of that episode, doesn’t it? Lucky that Clara was the companion in that story and not Amy and Rory, 'cause that would have caused ALL KINDS of continuity issues.  To which I reply - "Continuity issues? In Doctor Who? No!").

This is sort of in the vein of “Sting of the Zygons,” which is a Tenth Doctor novel in which David Tennant gets his childhood wish of meeting Zygons as the Doctor... but in prose form and it's not really David Tennant at all, but his Doctor (side note: “Sting of the Zygons” is pretty good and definitely worth a look). If you’re writing Doctor Who novels and you can bring in a Classic Who monster - what’s stopping you?

Beyond the Ice Warriors - which I still haven’t quite figured out the whole nostalgia factor involved in that particular monster. I mean, it’s not like it’s the Voord or Zarbi or Quarks (now I’m just pushing fanboy buttons - it’s a lot more fun that you’d think) - this story is immensely fun. It starts out innocently enough - land on an alien planet, weird crap’s going on, go investigate (and get separated in the process).

But then you have all the word plays and fun with language. And, for me, that’s like scratching a cat behind the ears and finding the sweet spot.

Turns out, this colony is populated by people descended from Earth humans - in fact, it was supposed to be this huge scientific expedition to terraform the planet. But things got lost in translation, records weren't kept, things got jumbled up and we get things like worshiping Guide, the various Plantnations called Aside, Beside, and Seaside (in other words: A Side, B Side, C Side), following the world of the Holy Emanual (the digital operators manual for the terraforming machines), and various other little gems that you should discover for yourself.

Mostly, this book is full of great little character moments for Team TARDIS. Like when Rory gets to be a leader of the colony because he’s a nurse and Nurse Elect is one of their honored offices. Or when Amy keeps calling the Ice Warriors "Ice Men" for... reasons. And the Doctor laments that it's not like it's a difficult name to remember like "Jagrafess" or "Castrovalva". Having these scenes in the novels makes the story more real - like it could be a TV story just in prose form. Makes me want to seek out the audiobook version of this.

Another really great moment in this book is when the Doctor is standing up to the Ice Lord (the Head Boss Chief in Charge of the Ice Warrior - which also means he's the only Ice Warrior that doesn't have issues pronouncing the "S" sound) and he's enumerating all his past encounters with the proud and honorable Ice Warrior race and all the famous leaders he's met and the Ice Warriors have even given the Doctor a title so future generations may know of his friendship with their kind - only to find out that this time period is clear far back in Ice Warrior history and, through the wonders of time-travel, the Ice Warriors haven't really met the Doctor yet.

I haven't read many Eleventh Doctor novels, but I did enjoy this one.  I can see why it was chosen for this 50th Anniversary reprint range.  It's fitting that it's the last one in the set and it has a Christmas theme to it (the chapter titles all come from Christmas carols) and Christmas is when Matt Smith is going to regenerate into Peter Capaldi (let's hear it for serendipity!)  It was just a fun, low-key read to close out this blogging project with, even if I don't have a whole lot to say about the story itself.  I may re-read it at some point and pick out a few more plot-related elements when I'm not rushing myself to finish it.  But it's certainly worth your time and attention, especially if you are a huge fan of the Eleventh Doctor.

This marks the end of the Librarian in the TARDIS reviews. HOWEVER - I still have plenty of off-beat stuff to bring you, my faithful and dear readers, before November 23. And I do want to do a proper recap/epilogue for this blogging project. So, watch this space for future fun and shenanigans.

Next Time, on Librarian in the TARDIS - 
Epilogue - Bringing It All Home

Previously -
Bonus Review #3 - Big Finish's Mighty Mouse Moment

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