THIS STORY TAKES
NOVEL "THE DOCTOR
TRAP" AND THE AUDIO
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER
For Donna Noble, the
is a long, long way
from home. But even
milliOnS OF light
years from Earth,
danGer lurks around
A visit to an art
gallery turns into
a race across space
to uncover the secret
behind a shadowy
the desert world of
Karris to the inter-
of junk, the Doctor
and Donna discover
can be deceptive, that
enemies are lurking
around every corner,
and that the peace
between humans and
machines IS about to
come to an end.
Because waiting in
the wings to bring
chaos to the galaxy
is the cult of Shining
Shining Darkness is rather a bizarre one. At its best, it’s reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ work… although, appropriately improbably, a Star Trekky sort of morality offsets the Adamsian humour. Above all else though, Mark Michalowski’s second revived series novel is refreshingly alien – a feeling that is heightened if you are prepared to accept the conceit that the vast majority of the Doctor’s adventures take place in good old Mutters’ Spiral.
This novel sees the Doctor take Donna to a planet in another galaxy; a galaxy that he claims to know very little about. Now this idea is attractive in a couple of different ways – firstly, it’s all new. For example, one of the major premises upon which the story is built is that Androm-eda is populated by as many robots as organic life forms. As such, rather than encountering one bipedal race after another (though to be fair, Shining Darkness does still feature a fair few bipedal races…), the reader is confronted with a superfluity of diverse and distinctive mechanicals, each as unique in character as it is in appearance. Secondly – and in my view, more fascinatingly – we get to see the Doctor in a very different light. He isn’t all-knowing here; far from it. In fact, he is as much a fish out of water as his companion is. The resulting story consequently feels rather Hartnell-ish in tone – quite an achievement, forty-odd years on.
Michalowski’s machine culture is quite captivating too, particularly when seen from Donna’s admittedly narrow view, which I would imagine most of this book’s readership will share.
Some of the awkward and confusing
scenarios that Donna finds herself in
really hammer home the old ‘it’s what’s
inside that counts…’ moral in a fairly
distinctive way. Donna treats a ‘bimbot’
with respect because it looks human, yet
she finds herself affording Weiou very
little respect at all because he looks
nothing like. It’s unquestionably a steep
learning curve for the ‘Ginger Goddess.’
“…here she was, on an alien planet, being worshipped for her gingerness.
If only her dad and gramps could see her now – see how special her hair had made her!”
Speaking of which, the whole ‘Ginger Goddess’ sequence is totally riotous - I absolutely loved the Jaftee. Imagine a race so fickle that they get new Gods every week – brilliant!
On reflection it’s probably more Faith Stealer than The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it’s just as entertaining nonetheless.
There are elements of this novel that I wasn’t quite so fond of though. I found it very difficult indeed to care about any of the characters (robots and humanoid… I’m not prejudiced like Donna!) besides the Doctor and Donna, and frankly the plot is hardly magnificent. What’s more, the space opera format, despite not being attempted much (or should that be at all?) on television in the new series, does not quite work here – it all feels too circular. The first half of the novel, for instance, sees Donna a prisoner of Garaman and his cronies whilst the Doctor swans about with Mother and the Mechanicals (now there’s a name for a band, if ever you wanted one). In the second half, they switch around – literally.
Nevertheless, there is more to like about this book than not and it is definitely well worth shelling out a fiver or so on.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008
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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