In the far future, the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack find a world on which fiction has been outlawed. A world where it's a crime to tell stories, a crime to lie, a crime to hope, and a crime to dream.


But now somebody is challenging the status quo. A pirate TV station urges people to fight back, and the Doctor wants to help - until he sees how easily dreams can turn into nightmares.


With one of his companions stalked by shadows and the other committed to an asylum, the Doctor is forced to admit that fiction can be dangerous after all. Though perhaps it is not as deadly as the truth...













The Stealers of Dreams reads very differently to the rest of the ninth Doctor novels that have been published to date. It is certainly the most adult of the range so far in terms of the subject matter, as well as the darkest in terms of tone.


It took me a while to get into this one - the first few chapters have something of a derivative feel as the TARDIS lands on an Earth Colony in the future only to find a dystopian society torn straight out of the pages of an Orwellian nightmare. Fiction is prohibited. Lies are prohibited. Those who break the law and dream, tell stories, or lie end up going ‘fantasy crazy’ and being shipped off to the Big White House for ‘treatment’. True to form, Steve Lyons’ first novel for the tie-in range addresses the relationship between fact and fiction.


Lyons handles the two companions very well, in particular “Armoured Shark Liar Captain Jack, who is afforded a good slice of the action and really shines as a result. I also like how when Rose comes ‘under the influence’ of her fantasies, she fantasises about having adventures with the Doctor, about breaking into the asylum and fighting monsters; I think that it certainly says a lot about her character and about how she feels about the Doctor. I also thought it was a nice touch having her telephone her mother to help her focus on what is real and what is fiction, only to be given a bollocking for splitting up with Mickey!


In contrast though, I found Lyons’ portrayal of the Doctor to be a little too generic. Although the shining blue eyes and manic grin were there, a lot of that ‘Ecclestonness’ seemed to be lacking, especially in the dialogue. However, the two principal supporting characters – Inspector Waller, the cop; and Dominic, the ‘fiction geek’, were both well rounded and compelling characters, and I particularly enjoyed their respective scenes with the Doctor. Somehow they seemed to bring a little bit more ‘ninth Doctor’ out of him, especially towards the end of the novel where he uses them both to help piece it all together and, as usual, save the day.


What ultimately saves this novel are its twists, the first of which the blurb proudly spoils - “…the Doctor is forced to admit that fiction can be dangerous after all”. Rather than just storm in and put the colony to rights, the Doctor and his companions slowly begin to realise that for some reason, on this world, fiction is indeed dangerous and that the colonists (and even Rose) really do go “fantasy crazy”. However, it does not take the Time Lord long to decipher the science behind the phenomenon and inspire the colonists to cast off their totalitarian laws and synthesise ‘a cure’ for their unique problem. For such a good idea to be wrapped up so neatly at the end feels a bit wasteful. The second twist, regarding Hal Gryden and his pirate television station, ‘Static’, is a little more obvious, but nevertheless the book really benefits from these twists and turns, particularly in the latter half.


On the whole then I rather enjoyed The Stealers of Dreams, but even in spite of its frequent misdirections it still felt like a story that had been told many times before. If you are looking for something fresh and new to tie-in with the new series then I would advise you to pick up a copy of Winner Takes All or Only Human, but if you are looking for something with a little grit that has a more edgy feel, then by all means give The Stealers of Dreams a try.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

This story has been placed between the televised episodes Boom Town and Bad Wolf as Rose’s conversation with her mother in this story suggests that these events take place after her break-up with Mickey depicted in Boom Town.


As in Bad Wolf the Doctor mentions visiting only Kyoto after Raxacoricofallapatorius (where the TARDIS was bound for at the end of Boom Town), then we must assume that the Doctor has forgotten about the events of this story (which is plausible, given the traumatic manner in which he was stolen away from the TARDIS just prior to Bad Wolf) or he is referring to a subsequent visit to Raxacoricofallapatorius, the details of which we are not aware of.


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