Audio Review: Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By
OUT of all the classic Doctor Who adversaries, the Ice Warriors are the last to enjoy a revival in the new series, despite a throwaway mention in David Tennant story Waters of Mars which hinted at a possible return for the reptilian race.
As celebrated sci-fi writer Dan Abnett proves here, there is more depth and character to the military Martians than many other monsters, and one would hope that showrunner Steven Moffatt uses this novel as a springboard for a new appearance on our screens in the not-too-distant future…
The TARDIS arrives on an Earth colony gripped by falling temperatures, dying livestock and failing crops, with the annual Winter Season Feast a warning of grim times ahead. What was a hard existence is now becoming a battle for survival.
As the colonists grow increasingly desperate, the Doctor’s old enemies the Ice Warriors take advantage of the situation to launch an invasion, but are they the real threat, or is there something even more dangerous lurking behind the scenes?
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Last year’s launch of a new adult line of mainstream Who hardcovers was premiered by the legendary Michael Moorcock with The Coming of the Terraphiles, which while very entertaining, never really felt like it was a genuine part of the Doctor’s world, and owed more to the likes of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy than the contemporary series, being at times far too clever and quirky for its own good.
In contrast, Abnett gets it right from the start, and admirably captures the characters of the Doctor and his companions Amy and Rory, as well as crafting a thoroughly gripping Who story which ticks all the right boxes.
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The highlight here of course is the return of the Ice Warriors, portrayed in the same way as they were on screen during the reigns of Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, a hissing blend of martial authoritarianism and honour culture, again proving the strengths of the concept and screaming out for their TV comeback.
Although there’s a reverence for past continuity, at no times does the story get bogged down in the series’ 48-year history, and there’s much here to draw comparisons with the successful original runs of Who fiction starring the Seventh and Eighth Doctors and published by Virgin and the BBC in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Michael Maloney handles the voices and narrative well enough, although it’s a shame we don’t have a main cast member handling the reading, but that’s a minor gripe which shouldn’t put you off immersing yourself in one of the best new Who books for years.