The End of an Era

Product Image: Doctor Who: The Gallifrey Chronicles (by Lance Parkin)

After the last book I read, I needed to read something a bit… shorter. This just so happened to show up at my door at just the right time. I have (almost) all of the BBC Doctor Who novels, but I haven’t read most of them. I hope to some day, but it’s mainly a collection at this point.

This one I really wanted to read, for a number of reasons. This book is the end of the block of continuity that started back in August 2000 with The Burning, where the Doctor has lost all of his past memories; I’ve had a renewed interest in Doctor Who due to the show finally coming back to BBC TV (warning, link contains spoilers for the 2005 season of Doctor Who); the book was supposed to make sense to people who have never read any of the 100s of previews Doctor Who novels; most importantly, for me, it was written by Lance Parkin.

The book, while not exactly what I expected, made good on it’s promises. It tied up the continuity from the ongoing book series in such a way that it can lead into the new TV series, without explicitly going there (or even starting down that path). In fact, that part of the book, while fascinating, is almost regulated to the sidelines of a rip roaring adventure.

Another Time Lord, Marnal, trapped on earth discovers that Gallifrey has been destroyed, and that the Doctor was responsible. He sets a trap for the Doctor, with the intent of making him pay for his crimes against their people. Marnal is a bit disheartened to find the Doctor has no idea what he is talking about, although he doesn’t quite believe it. The Doctor ends up finding out what happened to his memories, and why.

While the Doctor is occupied with that, the earth is overrun by the Vore, an insectoid alien race that jumps through disturbances in space-time, and seems to be intent on whiping out the population of earth.

The Vore are a great alien threat, because they are so alien. No one can communicate with them, they seem to have no idividual thoughts, and nobody can figure out what it is they are trying to do, or why. They just merrily go about decimating the population and move on to the next place. People are forced to move on and try to cope with death on a scale they can not even comprehend. They are unfathomable while being logicaly insect like.

I can’t really say much more about the plot without ruining it. Although some of the characters ment little to me, because they were obviously long time companions of the Doctor in books I did not read, by the end I really cared about them. There’s some great stuff in here, like when the Doctor first encounters a Vore:

The Doctor looked it up and down. ‘So you’re a Vore? I’ve heaerd the expression “time flies”, I’ve never actually met one before. Hello.’

Like all of Mr. Parkin’s books that I’ve read so far, the writing is top notch. There are lines in the book that refer to some aspect of fandom, or the series history outside of the fiction, but they are presented as part of the story. They’re like in-jokes, only more complex, and they never seem forced or out of place. There are comments that state what I believe to be the authors take on continuity (Doctor Who has spanned Television, comics, books, audio dramas, and more in it’s over forty year history). None of this ever detracts from the story in the slightest.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan at all, and especially and Eighth Doctor fan, I highly recommend you give this one a read.

My rating: 4 out of 5