THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
COMIC STRIP ANTHOLOGY
AND THE SHORT STORIES
IN THE 2008 STORYBOOK
AND THE FIRST HALF OF
"THE WIDOW'S CURSE",
AND THE NOVEL "STING
OF THE ZYGONS."
OFFICIAL BBC 'QUICK
RELEASED IN MARCH
A DEADLY NIGHT
ATTACK ON AN ARMY
BASE. VEHICLES ARE
KILLED. THE ATTACKERS
VANISH AS SWIFTLY
AS THEY CAME, TAKING
EQUIPMENT WITH THEM.
METAL FIGURES ATTACK
A SHOPPING MALL. BUT
WHY DO THEY ONLY
WANT A NEW GAMES
CONSOLE FROM AN
SHOP? AN OBSCURE
IS BLOWN UP - BUT, IN
THE WRECKAGE, NO
TRACE IS FOUND OF THE
WHEN THE TARDIS
RETURNS THE DOCTOR
AND MARTHA TO EARTH,
THEY TRY TO PIECE THE
BUT SOMETHING - IS
WAITING FOR THEM. AN
OLD ENEMY STALKS THE
NIGHT, MEN NO LONGER
MADE OF FLESH...
The last couple of tie-in novels were almost enough to put me off Doctor Who books completely; between them The Art of Destruction and The Price of Paradise ate up several hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Due to that bitter experience, it took me a lot longer than usual to pick up the latest release – Terrance Dicks’ Made of Steel, the cover to which proudly boasts the Doctor in his new blue suit alongside his new companion, Martha Jones, and a Cyberman!
Sixteen chapters. 99 pages. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I read this book cover to cover in less time than it would take me to watch an episode of the new series.
Last year Gareth Roberts’ Quick Read, I am a Dalek, impressed me in how it managed to capture the energy and the pace of the revived series; in many ways, it was like reading a particularly action-packed Target novelisation of an ‘unseen’ episode. So who better to pen the second in this series than Mr Target himself, Terrance Dicks. To have him write for the new series, even in this limited capacity, is gratifying in itself, but for him to write a story as compelling as Made of Steel is is even better.
“Because I can’t do it. The gate they want me to open is closed forever. Even to me.”
Whilst the plot might not be overambitious or even all that complex (well let’s face it, he only has 99 pages to play with) the author manages to craft an enthralling story which sees the
Doctor and Martha battle a handful of Cybermen on near present-day Earth. At the end of Doomsday, when the Doctor had all the Cybermen sucked into the Void, he didn’t take into account that a few Cybermen – those created on our Earth – were not soaked in Void stuff, and as such were not sucked into the Void. These surviving Cybermen realise that it was the Doctor that was responsible for their crushing defeat, and so they actively seek him out so that he may re-open the Void for them…
This idea allows Dicks to play around with a couple of interesting threads. Firstly, it re-opens old wounds for the Doctor. More than anything else in the universe, he wants to re-open the Void. But he can’t. Even in a book aimed squarely at children, there is an underlying pathos that can’t help but strike a chord even with the youngest of readers.
Secondly, it allows Dicks to write for the new Cybermen in a very old Cybermen kind of way. The Cybermen that we see in Made of Steel know the Doctor. He’s their nemesis. We see them plotting and scheming against him. And although these Cybermen utter the “you will be deleted” new series catchphrase, Dicks has written them exactly like the Cybermen of old.
Further, Dicks creates some fantastic supporting
characters, most notably Captain Sheila Sarandon
with whom the Doctor shares a nice little love / hate
relationship. The veteran author has also really got a
handle on David Tennant’s tenth Doctor; his manner-
isms, his speech patterns; his bouts of mania… It’s written so well that you can actually hear
Tennant’s voice in your head as you read, which is exactly as it should be.
Dicks is a bit cruel with his descriptions of the Doctor, though: words like ‘skinny’ and ‘geek’ crop up a bit too often. His Martha is harder to comment on; she comes across as a likeable and resilient young woman, perhaps a tad generic, though I suppose this is understandable considering when Made of Steel was written. However, Dicks’ blasé statements such as “Martha Jones was the Doctor’s current companion” only serve to exacerbate this feeling. Again though, this is easily forgivable considering that this is a children’s title!
When I had finished reading Made of Steel, I could not help but wish that this would have been a televised episode as opposed to a novella. As it deals with Martha’s first return to
the hospital where she used to work since Smith and Jones, I would imagine that this story would have worked very nicely as a mid-season episode. Hopefully though, this little book will be very well received by both children and adults alike, and if that is the case than you never know, Dicks might get Russell T Davies knocking on his door demanding one more script for television…
Perhaps it’s my child-like mind talking, but Made of Steel is certainly the best tie-in book
to materialise since the first batch of ninth Doctor titles. I’d recommend strolling into Water-stones, nonchalantly picking up Made of Steel, and wandering over to the till muttering “he’ll like this, our [insert child’s name]”. You’ll not be disappointed - especially for £1.99!
72 years old and Terrance Dicks is still made of steel.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.
‘Doctor Who’ is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.