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Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin: A 4th Doctor novelisation

It’s rare to find a Doctor Who novel that will allow us inside the mind of the Doctor. More often than not, we’ll see into the mind of his companions and those around him.

That makes a story like “The Deadly Assassin” difficult to adapt for the printed page since it’s the only story in the classic canon that doesn’t feature a companion for the Doctor. It’s also a story whose third episode features a lot of action pieces and very little in the way of dialogue.

Because of this, Terrance Dicks’ attempt to adapt the classic Robert Holmes four-parter falls a bit short. I can’t help but wonder if Dicks had produced this story at the beginning or the end of his association with the Target range if he might have expanded some things a bit or made some different storytelling choices. As it is, this comes from the middle period when Dicks rarely had time to do more than adapt the shooting script for the printed page. He didn’t have time to add the flourishes that made novels like “The Day of the Daleks” so memorable.

With two mysterious adversaries for the Doctor to battle (one works for the other), Dicks decides to give away the identity of one earlier in the novel than the televised story does. I can’t help but wonder if it might have been better to let readers in on who is working for the Master rather than the Master himself. It’s disappointing that one of the more pivotal and controversial stories in the classic series run only gets a novelization that’s par for the course. Dicks tries his best, but this is a story that works better visually (at least the sections inside the Matrix do) than they do on the printed page.

Thankfully, the audio version features a reading by Geoffrey Beavers, the only actor who played the Master in the classic series who is still with us. Beavers reading is, as always, a delight and he brings a lot to the read, especially when called upon to read lines for the Master. You can just hear Beavers voice dripping with contempt as he channels the Master in this one. I can’t help but wonder why this line hasn’t seen fit to let Beavers read a story or two that doesn’t feature the Master. I think he’d be great. Why not let him read “Day of the Daleks” — one of the truly great entries from the Target line that hasn’t yet been adapted for audio.

20-books-of-summer-master-image

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All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast, Episode 44: William T. Riker: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

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The only thing that confuses Commander Riker is why it took us so long to do an episode focused on him.

“Mr Worf, fire.”

It’s been twenty-five years since those words were first spoken and the music swelled to a conclusion, ending the third season of Next Generation.   

In celebration of that pivotal moment in Trek history, Barry and I turn the character spotlight onto Commander William T. Riker, also known as Number One, from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  What makes Riker tick and just what makes him such a memorable part of the Trek universe?  Also, we may delve into the pattern that begins to emerge for Riker-centered stories with the poor guy having to question his sanity a lot.

We also discuss the passing of the late, great James Horner and his contribution to the musical landscape of Trek (and other movies).

As always, you can tune in below or follow the link to download HERE.  You can also subscribe in iTunes or via your favorite podcast feeder so you’ll never miss an episode!

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/n53ec-56fb0d

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All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast, Episode 43: Questions and Answers

red-shirt-curse

If you listen to this week’s installment, this picture will make a LOT more sense.

On this week’s installment of the All Good Things podcast, Barry and I put each other on the spot. We each ask the other three questions — from the sublime to the absurd — and then try to provide a reasonable, intelligent discord on the subject at hand (even Barry’s last question, which I will leave for you to listen and find out just how wacky and fun it is).

We also discuss news of the week and avoid a long rant by me on the Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover (keep tuning in!  It’s coming).

You can tune in below (assuming the embed code works like it says it will) or you can listen and/or download it HERE.

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/h3w78-56d1be

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Audio Book Review: Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovich

Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks

Before I began running, I used to joke that running couldn’t be as much fun as they say it is because you never see anyone running with a big grin on their face. And while I may not have a big smile planted on my face most days while out pounding the pavement, I can’t help but think I had a big smile planted on it for much of the time I was working out while listening to Remembrance of the Daleks.

Based on one of my favorite seventh Doctor stories (and one of my favorite stories from the entire run of Doctor Who), this novel was one that I spent months looking for in book stores when it was first published (back in the days before Amazon and other on-line sellers) and then eagerly consumed once I’d found it. It was one of my favorite entries from the Target novels lines — taking a great story and making it even better with some world building, character development and hints about the past of the our hero, the Doctor that, at the time, I lapped up with a spoon.

I’ve still got my original copy of the book, sitting proudly on my bookshelf with all my seventh Doctor Target novels. And I was fascinated to see that this novel was chosen to represent the seventh Doctor’s era for the fiftieth anniversary books that came out a couple of years ago. And yet for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to re-read the book. Part of me was worried that my memory would cheat and the re-read couldn’t live to the memories I had of reading it. And then there was part of me that said — man, if there was ever a novel I’d love to see become part of the audio range, it would be that one.

And so it was that when the Target audio range finally got rolling again this year, I was took great delight to see that Remembrance of the Daleks was headed to audiobook. I ordered it the audiobook, quickly converted it to .mp3 for my iPod and was ready to start listening. Continue reading

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Way Back Wednesday: Vendetta by Peter David

waybackwednesday

Time again for Way Back Wednesday hosted by A Well Read Woman.  Each week this meme looks back at those books that we read that were memorable or made an impact on us.

vendettaThis week, I thought I’d go with another media tie-in novel — Star Trek: The Next Generation: Vendetta by Peter David.

I didn’t know who Peter David was before I picked up his first Next Generation novel, Strike Zone many years ago.  I didn’t know of his long, definitive run on the Hulk comic books nor of his work on various Trek tie-in comics.  But with two books, David quickly became one of my favorite writers for Trek tie-in fiction.

David has this way of finding the absurdities and pointing them out with humor.  One memorable passage in Strike Zone has Picard and Riker in the turbolift in the early stages of season two.  Riker has just grown his beard and he wonders if Picard isn’t jealous that Riker has more hair on his chin than Picard does on his head.

I’ll admit it — it still amuses me to this day.

But if his first two Next Generation books were appetizers, then Vendetta was the main course.

With Vendetta, David began his trend of big novels in the Star Trek universe that tied together threads from both (we only had two at the time!) series.  In this case, David brought back the Borg and tied in continuity from the original series “The Doomsday Machine” to it.   For a fan who loved all three Borg installments of TNG and “The Doomsday Machine” this was exactly up my alley.  Basically, the Doomsday Machine was built to defeat the Borg.

And this one is set after the events of “Best of Both Worlds” and before Trek had to start “defanging” the Borg.

As a Trek fan, this absolutely pushed all the right buttons with me.  This novel was one of the Giant Novels published in the Trek canon and it lived up to it.  (The Giant Novels later became the hardcover releases when they realized they could get even more money out of us).   Epic battles, continuity galore and the trademark David humor.  This novel had just about everything and I have fond memories of reading it far too quickly because I was loving every minute of it.

Is this a book that is going to show up on a list of great literature of the 20th Century that should be studies and read by future generations?   No, not really.

But did it entertain me no end and was it utterly memorable?   Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

If you love TNG and TOS, do yourself a favor and read this one. Trust me.

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Big Finish Review: Mistfall

Doctor Who: Mistfall

One of the things that keeps me from embracing the Big Finish range more than I do is that it seems too determined to maintain the sensibility of the classic Doctor Who serials from which it springs. No where is that more evident than in Andrew Smith’s latest offering to the range, Mistfall.

A sequel to Smith’s own Full Circle, the story finds the fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Turlough heading back to Alzarius, just in time for Mistfall to happen again. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, mind you, except that Alzarius is in a separate universe and the story spends a good bit of the first episode negotiating the TARDIS and our heroes back into e-space. Once we get there, we head to Alazarius where the Marshmen are rising from the swamps and people are trapped on the planet. There’s also a nefarious agenda involving the Marshmen thrown in for good measure.

Smith incorporates some aspects from his novelization of Full Circle here, but I just couldn’t quite get past the feeling that we’d been here before that pervades the first two installments. Things pick up a bit in the third part when the story begins to go in different directions, leading to a hurried fourth installment that tries to wrap up things a bit too quickly and neatly for my liking. The pacing for this one is entirely off and the story as a whole suffers for it.

And, of course, this being the current state of the main range for Big Finish, this one has to be the start of a trilogy of stories. Again, we’ve had a trilogy of stories in e-space and they were fairly successful the first time around. I can’t help but get the feeling of “here we go again” from the inevitable cliffanger to end the story, but dammit, if they don’t make it just intriguing enough that I want to come back and see how it all unfolds.

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Review: Star Trek: New Visions, Volume II

Star Trek: New Visions Volume 2

This new comic series takes a page from the original PhotoNovels, but instead of re-telling classic original series stories, it offers up new adventures from the original five year mission. Using screen captures from the original episodes (and even The Motion Picture in a short story that’s included here) and the magic of PhotoShop, writer Johnny Bryne and his team have created a series of new stories. The first three issues were collected in volume I and Volume II is set to hit shelves later this year.

These were fun, at first. I read the first couple of issues and found myself enjoying them a great deal. It was a fun novelty idea and it made me nostalgic for my early days in Trek fandom when I eagerly checked the PhotoNovels out of my local library.

But with this collection, I find that the bloom is off the rose a bit. Part of that comes down to the stories which I felt were more miss than hit this time around. The first installment with Harry Mudd felt like it was trying too hard — up to and including Captain Tracy returning to the storyline after the events of “The Omega Glory.” The basic plot is that Tracy and Mudd stumble across a device that allows a person to become a virtual clone of another person. Tracy forces Mudd to use it to make himself become a duplicate of Kirk (because we’ve never seen that before!). The Enterprise finds Mudd and begins to unravel what happened. The seams of the story start to show through early and there is some jarringly PhotoShopped images late in the story with a Harry Mudd mustache slapped onto Captain KIrk . Continue reading

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