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Monday, March 25, 2013

Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By

Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go ByDoctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been a fan of Doctor Who for several years now. I've been aware of the good Doctor since early eighties, when, as an impressionable youth, I happened to catch a few Tom Baker repeats on PBS, but I never became a true fan until I happened to run across the entire season five (of the new series) on BBC America On Demand. These episodes starred Mat Smith as the eleventh Doctor, and I was immediately drawn in by his madcap energy and enthusiasm. This youthful madman of a Doctor was not quite the Doctor I remembered, but nevertheless I was entranced. I devoured the entire season, and then was forced to wait what seemed an eternity for season six.

As I write this we are half-way through season seven. We've said goodbye to the Ponds, and a new companion is on the way. This year is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and I for one couldn't be more excited. Since discovering the revived series, I have caught up on seasons one through four, and have thoroughly enjoyed both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant as the Doctor. But everyone has their own Doctor, and mine will always be Matt Smith.

Having enjoyed the show, I finally decided to give one of the books a try. I picked up The Silent Stars Go By partly because it features my favorite Doctor (and the amazing Amy and Rory Pond), and partially because of the clever way the book title and chapters are named after lines from Christmas carols.

The story begins as the Doctor is trying to get his companions back to Earth for Christmas, but, as is usually the case, they end up somewhere else entirely--a snowy planet sometime in the far future. As they explore they become separated. They discover planet has been colonized by people from Earth, who for generations have been maintaining terraforming machines to make the planet more Earth-like (or Earth-esque, as the case may be). These "Morphans," as they call themselves, have become a superstitious, agrarian society, barely understanding the "Formers" they watch over.

Enter the Ice Warriors. Tall, bulky humanoids formerly of Mars, they, too, seek to colonize new worlds. They are trying to make the planet colder and more Mars-like, and their manipulation of the Formers threatens to make the planet uninhabitable by humans. And thus, conflict erupts between the mighty Ice Warriors and peaceful Morphans, with the Doctor, Amy, and Rory stuck, as usual, in the middle.

The story kept me entertained, and Dan Abnett captured the voices of the main characters relatively well. For most of the book, the Doctor and Amy are separated from Rory, which helps keep the tension high. The action really ramps up for the last third of the book as the conflict with the Ice Warriors comes to a head, and another even more fearsome menace appears.

All in all, a great read, and a worthy addition to Doctor Who canon.

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