Doctor Who - The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Stephen Baxter is a well-known and well regarded science fiction author, so I was interested in his new Doctor Who novel because the number of authors of his caliber who deign to write media tie-in books is rather low. Also, rather than write a book that centers around one of the modern incarnations of the Doctor that might score lots of fans, Baxter uses the second Doctor and his companions, Jamie, a Scottish Highlander and Zoe, a young super genius from the future.
Setting the story in a time of the Doctor's history when the television series was geared more towards children and a time when the kind of stories that could be told on television was more constrained due to the mores of the 1960s makes for some odd reading. For instance, it is extremely unlikely that Jamie would comment that a young man Zoe was becoming interested in is gay when the second Doctor was around.
Also, the violence is more visceral, the characterization given more depth, and the technobabble is updated to the present day, more or less. This has the advantage of making Baxter's choice of Doctors relevant and refreshing, but also makes the book seem less like an adventure that particular Doctor might have.
Over all the story is satisfyingly told if also a little underwhelming. I liked many of the incidental characters, especially MAC, a robot that in lesser hands would have been revealed to be the big villain of the piece, but in Baxter's hands becomes a fully fleshed out character in his own right. I give the book three stars because it is good, not great. I look forward to more, though.
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