Monday 1 October 2012

CBR4 Book 85: "Alien Bodies" by Lawrence Miles

Page count: 313 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: June 28th, 2012
Date finished: September 21st, 2012

This book is an eight Doctor novel, and requires very little knowledge of the TV show. If you don't know anything about Doctor Who, the TV series, the audio plays and the many novels written, read the first four paragraphs of this review, and at least some of it will be explained. Fans of the current show should consider checking this book out, you'll see where current show runner Steven Moffat got a whole bunch of his most well used ideas from (without ever crediting the original author).

The eight Doctor is playing chess with a UNISYC (formerly UNIT) general, when the general suddenly pulls a gun on him. The Doctor is surprised, but the general claims that the only reason no one has ever threatened him this way before, is because the various Earth governments didn't believe he could be killed, but now they have proof. Intrigued by this, the Doctor handily escapes by diving out a window and into the hovering TARDIS outside.

The Doctor and Sam, his current companion, travel to the rain forests of what used to be Borneo, and crash an exclusive auction, where a mysterious relic is for sale to the highest bidder. Among the bidders are two UNISYC soldiers, a reanimated dead man called Trask, the Time Lord Homunculette and his companion Marie, a conceptual entity known as the Shift (who communicates with the others by rearranging writing in newspapers and the like) and two members of the Faction Paradox (a sort of twisted, evolved Time Lord culture). The auctioneer, Mr. Qixotl, is less than thrilled when the Doctor and Sam turn up (even less so when he realises who the Doctor really is), but to avoid upsetting and alarming the others, he allows them to stay.

Why is the UNISYC general so certain that the Doctor can finally be killed? What is the Relic that all these groups are willing to pay priceless sums to obtain? Who is the mysterious final bidder that Mr. Qixotl is waiting for? Why is he so worried and upset by the Doctor's arrival at the auction?

The eighth Doctor, of course, only appears on screen in the dreadful TV movie from 1996, but has appeared in many of the novels, and about 70 of the Big Finish audio plays. Based purely on the various audio plays, he's one of my favourite incarnations of the Doctor. This is one of my husband's favourite Doctor Who novels, and he read it aloud to me. Like so many other good Doctor Who adventures, whether on TV or in books, it's a classic "base under siege" novel. A group of people arrive at a location, there is an outside threat, they all have to try to make it out alive, and the Doctor is there to hopefully help them do that (but frequently ends up making whoever threatens the base more aggressive, as he has so many enemies).

I wouldn't recommend this novel to someone who's never watched or heard of the series at all, but if you're a fan of the current series, especially the episodes written by Steven Moffat, then this should almost be required reading. It's a fun, action packed story, with sections that are genuinely horrifying (at least to me, my husband didn't seem particularly bothered).

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