THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "WISHING WELL"
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN DECEMBER
The Doctor's been
seems to know all
the answers. But
ask him what
happened to the
and he hasn't the
first idea. Did it fall
into a sun or black
hole? Was it shot
down in the first
moments of the
galactic war? And
what's this about a
The Doctor is skittish.
But if Martha is so
keen to find out he'll
land the TARDIS on
the Brilliant, then
they can see for
Soon the Doctor
discovers the awful
truth and Martha
learns that you need
to be careful what
you wish for. She
hoping for mayhem,
death, and badger-
faced space pirates.
Looking at the cover of The Pirate Loop by Simon Guerrier, my hopes weren’t high.
I certainly didn’t expect it to be a poor novel by any stretch of the imagination; it was more
that it promised nothing but a traipse of over heavily-trodden ground. Space pirates again; The Resurrection Casket barely a year old. A starship that looks like a sailing ship again; just days after the broadcast of Voyage of the Damned.
Thankfully though, I’m happy to report
that I could not have been more wrong.
If anything, The Pirate Loop is the
most original Doctor Who novel that
has been published since the tie-in
range launched in 2005. Provided
that the reader is able to get over the
innate bizarreness that comes with
having badgers cast as space pirates,
then there is so very much to enjoy
First off, the book encapsulates both the spirit and the feel of the television series splendidly, and what’s more Guerrier’s characterisation is first class. The Doctor enjoys a very strong outing indeed, not only in terms of how much of ‘the usual’ he is given to do, but also in how he must wrestle with the temporal ramifications of attempting to save a starship that history records as having been lost. He enjoys some truly wonderful scenes with Martha in which
he tries to explain to her the intricacies of how the web of time hangs together, even using the delightful metaphor of a “patchwork of lies” to help her understand that making one little change inexorably prompts another and then another and so on and so forth, as is the case with telling lies. I also appreciated Guerrier’s cheeky little continuity joke – it seems that the Doctor tries not to think about all the “messy” continuity that his own adventures bring with them. Sage counsel indeed.
At one point, Guerrier uses the same trick that Chris Chibnall did in 42, i.e. he hints that a regeneration is impending or, perhaps, has even occurred in order to stress just how badly the Doctor has been hurt. Arguably it works better in print than it does on television as we can’t see the Doctor and so we don’t actually know if he’s changed - we have to rely on the clues given to us by the author. This all falls apart, of course, once you realise that you’re a world-weary and cynical grown-up, but I’m sure that many of the children reading this book will have fallen for the rouse.
And for her part, Martha is even more impressive. It’s not entirely clear when exactly this novel is set, but I’d imagine that these events take place not all that long before the Master trilogy that wraps up the 2007 series and so Martha’s get-up-and-go in The Pirate Loop doesn’t come as all that much of a surprise. She has just as much, if not more, to do with
the resolution of matters here than the Doctor does. The way that she stands up to those badgers!
Now I know that this sounds daft, but these badgers really are quite nasty villains. They’re vicious, bloodthirsty, murderers that are content to kill and keep on killing until they get what they want. And what makes them all the more terrifying is that they are incredibly stupid and don’t seem to know what they want. In all honesty, at times it felt like I was reading a scene from 24 rather than Doctor Who, albeit with badgers and tentacles. At one point I could not see any way of matters being resolved save for Jack Bauer crashing the party and taking
out the badgers.
Best of all though, The Pirate Loop is a tremendously strong science-fiction story. Although
it all seems so obvious at the end (and the title is just a little bit of a clue!), there is enough going on to keep the reader guessing throughout - so many twists and so much action; so very much to love. The Doctor duels with the captain of the space pirate badgers, and then has a bit of a dance to Mika. What’s not to love?
At the end of the day The Pirate Loop is one of only a select few new series novels that I would actively recommend or perhaps even buy as a gift for someone. It’s still no Human Nature, but for what it is and what it is meant to be, it’s absolutely outstanding. We could really do with more like this one.
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.
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