I’ve got to give the tie-in line of Doctor Who novels credit — at least the line is willing (once a year or so) to take a risk and give the fans something different from the standard tie-in novel.
First it was Michael Moorcock playing in the Doctor Who sandbox and now it’s Stephen Baxter. And the line is even willing to allow the big-name sci-fi and fantasy authors to play with other Doctor/companion teams besides the ones currently seen in the latest batch of episodes. That alone intrigues me enough that I’m willing to put aside my preconceptions and at least give these annual offerings a chance.
In the case of The Wheel of Ice, I have to admit I wondered how Baxter’s usual hard-SF style would fit with the less-than-hard-SF style of the classic series and, specifically, the second Doctor’s era. For the most part, it’s a successful hybrid. The result is a hard-SF based base-under-seige story in which Baxter comes closer than many other writers in the Doctor Who fold have come to capturing the second Doctor on the printed page.
The Wheel of Ice feels like a six-part Patrick Troughton era story, with all the strengths and weaknesses. The TARDIS trio of the Doctor, Jaime and Zoe come across well on the printed page and while the central dilemma and threat facing the TARDIS crew and a group of isolated humans is a bit more modern feeling, it all still works well enough to keep the pages turning. Baxter even throws in some continuity references to the second Doctor era to make fans happy.
All that said, the story isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of shuttling back and forth between various locations. And while that might work on the TV screen, in the novel it becomes a bit tedious. Add in that Baxter tries to translate Jaime’s Scottish accent to the printed page and there were moments that the novel became a bit frustrating.
Warning: If you haven’t seen the entire third season of The Walking Dead and don’t want to know any details, do not read the following review. It’s got a LOT of SPOILERS!
For the most popular, scripted series on television, you’d think The Walking Dead would be a lot better than it is. Or maybe I should say you’d think the series could be more consistent. A solid stretch of episodes to start season three were ultimately let down by the back half of the season.
It’s hard to recall that in the fall, The Walking Dead did some solid work. Establishing the Ricktatorship and introducing Woodbury and the Governor all worked well. The show may have issues with characters (such as making them consistent) but it tried (and for the most part succeeded) in covering that up with unexpected deaths and an overriding sense of dread and tension as the two groups (the prison and Woodbury) headed toward their inevitable clash.
And then the second half of the season happened and things slowed down a bit. The big complaint lobbied at the show last year was that once we got to the Farm, things slowed down a lot. That complaint can also be leveled at the second half of season three that spend way too much time treading water as we waited for the inevitable clash between Rick and the Governor. A clash, I might add, that felt pretty anti-climatic once we got to it.
BBC America’s new original series Orphan Black kicked off Saturday evening, paired with Doctor Who as part of the channels Supernatural Saturdays. As a viewer, I admit I was intrigued to go from the more family-oriented sensibility of Doctor Who to the more adult sensibility (including a little language and equal-opportunity nudity) of Orphan Black.
When Sarah witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks just like her, she seized on the opportunity to leave behind her own life and take on the life of the other woman. Taking on the identity of Beth, a police officer facing a disciplinary hearing, Sarah tries to scam her way out of Beth’s savings and to vanish. But Beth’s boyfriend and her police officer partner, Art, won’t let Beth/Sarah easily vanish into the ether nor will a set of birth certificates and another copy of Beth.
Comparisons between classic Doctor Who writer Robert Holmes and current series runner Steven Moffat have been inevitable ever since Moffat’s first story “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances.” But these comparisons were even more inevitable (at least for this fan) on a weekend in which BBC America aired both “The Bells of Saint John” and the classic third Doctor serial “Spearhead from Space.”
Both stories find Earth under threat of invasion by aliens who are willing to use something mundane and turn it into something scary. In the case of Holmes, it was using plastics. In Moffat’s case, it’s wi-fi.
Of the two, I can tell you I vastly prefer the Holmes invasion story and not just because I’ve seen it multiple times.
It’s because the Holmes story didn’t feel like a mash-up of greatest hits from other successful installments of Doctor Who.
Every reader has his or her guilty pleasures. One of mine is young adult novels.
Or should I say young adult novels as audio books to listen to while I’m working out (in this case, running). In many cases, young adult novels serve as a solid distraction as the miles go by without demanding that I hang on every word and stop paying attention to my pace or things coming up ahead like mud, vehicles, fellow runners or roaming animals.*
So imagine my surprise when I downloaded the audio version of Saving Zoe to my iPod and the novel not only toyed with my expectations but actually exceeded them. It was entertaining enough that not only did I listen while exercising, but I worked in other times to listen to the story, hooked in by the narrator and the story itself.
As the story begins, Echo fully admits that she’s stuck in the stages of grief because of what happened to her older sister, Zoe, a year before. As her family tries to pick up the pieces of their lives with Zoe gone, Echo isn’t sure how to relate to anyone anymore, her mother is on “happy pills” and her father is burying his grief by working too much. Entering high school should be a new and exciting time for Echo, but the specter of her older sister hangs above everything and everyone that Echo comes into contact with.
The latest collection from the long run of The Amazing Spider-Man is a trip down memory lane.
Long before I knew about the existence of stores exclusively devoted to comic books and in the years before I was given mail subscriptions to my favorite books, I was at the mercy of which issues of my favorite books were at the local grocery store or drug store when I got to visit with parents or grandparents. The fact that I managed to collect a solid run of many of the issues featured in this book is a testament to the patience of all those people, who put up with my looking through the racks for the latest issue or that one I’d miss so I could have a complete story.
This run of issues is helped by the fact that it has a consistent creative team churning out the stories. I’m not sure how the comic book community as a whole feels about Roger Stern’s run at writing Spider-Man, but I’ve got to admit it holds up pretty well. Stern did a nice job with creating story arcs that lasted just long enough to sustain reader interest and tell a good story without feeling like he was extended things out to sell more issues (I’m looking at your modern comic books writers). Stern also clearly follows the model of Stan Lee, who said that you should treat every issue as if it’s someone’s first. Each issues offers a well integrated recap of what’s going on in the story and Spidey’s life without it necessarily feeling like an info-dump.
Ever since Stieg Larson’s Millenium trilogy hit it big, it seems like the mystery shelves have been flooded with a ton of imported mysteries and thrillers, all attempting to capture lighting in a bottle for a second time.
Of the translated thrillers I’ve read over the past couple of years, it’s Snow White Must Die that not only captured me and wouldn’t let go but also left me hoping that the rest of this series will get translated and published in America ASAP. Simply put, Snow White is one of the most entertaining and enthralling mystery novels I’ve read in a long time.
Over a decade ago, two girls with a romantic connection to Tobias Satorius went missing. Suspicion centered on Tobias, who experience a 24-hour blackout around the time of the disappearances, leading to Tobias’ conviction and ten year jail sentence. As he’s released from prison, Tobias returns home to find his parents estranged, his father’s business in ruin and the town unwilling to forget the crimes of which he was convicted.