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78) Jacqueline Rayner -- Doctor Who: The Stone Rose

Seventh of the tie-in novels to go with New Who, and the first featuring the Tenth Doctor. Mickey finds a Roman-era statue of Rose in the British Museum, so Ten and Rose go on a trip to make sure she's around to act as the model. But the first thing that happens when they arrive is getting mixed up in a missing persons case. A wealthy man is searching for his son, who was last seen going for a appointment to put the finishing touches on a statue of him.

It's not hard for the reader to guess how the sculptor is achieving his astonishing output of exquisitely detailed statues, but that's not the point of the story. The real meat of the story is in the Doctor's quest to find the source of the sculptor's powers -- and, of course, rescue a few people along the way. There are some good plot twists, and nice handling of time travel paradoxes in this story. Raynor does a good job of bringing ancient Rome to life in this book.

One of my favourites of the new series tie-ins so far, and the second of Raynor's which I've enjoyed. I'll have to look out for more of hers.

LibraryThing entry
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73) James Goss -- Torchwood: Department X [audiobook]

One of the audio-only tie-in novels, read by Kai Owen on 2 CDs, and set between series 2 and 3.

The last of Cardiff's traditional department stores, GR Owen, has just gone into administration. A pair of very slick operators from the administrators have arrived to audit the company's assets, and it's clear that they're interested in more than just the usual stock and staff assets. They're not the only ones, because two of the staff present to be interviewed happen to be Ianto and Gwen, working undercover on a project of Jack's. Nobody has seen the Department of Curiosities since 1905, and Jack wants to know why. Pity the store tries to kill him every time he sets foot in it...

A well-constructed story with a very Torchwood feel to it, and some logical extrapolations of the Torchwood universe. It's very funny in places, not least because it openly references the similarities between GR Owen and Grace Brothers in Are you Being Served -- I particularly enjoyed the scene where Jack has some fun teasing Ianto about working in menswear.

Very enjoyable, although I think not quite as good as Ghost Train, also written by James Goss and read by Kai Owen. I was mildly irritated in this one by Kai Owen's habit of leaving a Significant Pause so that you know he's finished speaking dialogue and moved to the dialogue tag. He didn't do this in Ghost Train, because it was first person and thus didn't really have dialogue tags. It's a distracting irritation from an otherwise good reader.

LibraryThing entry
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72) Steve Lyons -- Doctor Who: The Stealers of Dreams

Sixth of the tie-in novels for New Who, and the last to feature the Ninth Doctor (and thus also pre-immortality Jack). Nine, Rose and Jack find that their latest stop is a world where fiction is outlawed, and those who indulge in it are regarded as having a dangerous drug addiction that must be treated, by force if necessary. Naturally, the Tardis crew end up interfering. But it gradually becomes clear that on this world dreams really are dangerous, and the Doctor's usual tactics may be more harmful than helpful.

Good writing, nifty concept, a solid plot, and some excellent secondary characters, with a nice twist at the end. And the monster isn't overly familiar from tv episodes before or since, which is a problem I've occasionally had with coming to the books relatively late.

LibraryThing entry
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63) Gareth Roberts -- Doctor Who: Only Human

Fifth of the New Who novels, with Nine, Rose, and Captain Jack. A Neanderthal turns up in 21st century Bromley, and the Tardis crew turn up to investigate why someone is using a particularly primitive, and stupid, method of time travel in the area. It transpires that there's no way to take Das the Neanderthal home without killing him, so Jack gets detailed to teach him how to survive in present-day Bromley, while the Doctor and Rose go back 28,000 years to find the source of the problem. What they find is a historical research project by a group of humans from Rose's future, and some very nasty things hiding in the project's storeroom...

It's an engaging enough story with some good one-off characters, although the Big Bad feels a bit cardboard to me. One of the best bits for me was the sequence of paired diary entries from Das and Jack, showing their very different perspectives on 21st century humans and each other. Often very funny, and occasionally poignant, and while I don't think they'd have supported a full story in themselves, I would have been glad to see more of them.

LibraryThing entry
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55) Una McCormack -- Doctor Who: The Way Through the Woods

I bought this one because I've known the writer for years and have admired her writing since back when she was writing fanfic in My One True Fandom. It should be assumed that I am not capable of giving an unbiased opinion, but this book is full of squee for me. The characterisations for Eleven, Any and Rory feel right, and there are some nice secondary characters in this tale of a town where ever since Roman times, if you go into the woods today, you're not only sure of a big surprise, you'll never come out again. The Tardis crew have a good idea of what's going on, but in order to fix the problem before the woods eat more than just the odd stray, they're going to have to find the physical source. And the only way to do that is to take the Tardis to just before a disappearance and have someone with a beacon follow a disappearee. What could possibly go wrong?

LibraryThing entry
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48) Justin Richards -- Doctor Who: The Deviant Strain

Fourth of the new series tie-in novels. This one has Rose and Captain Jack as the companions, in a story set in a remote Soviet naval base abandoned after the end of the Cold War. The nuclear submarines were simply abandoned to rot as the cheapest method of dealing with them, as were the people from the village that had been there since before the base was built. The last real link with an unheeding government is the research institute which still receives limited funding and supplies. At least until something very odd is spotted by a satellite, and a Russian Special Forces team is sent to investigate.

The Tardis crew show up as well, because Jack has unthinkingly answered an emergency beacon's signal. While there is some suspicion from the Russian group, this is because Nine's psychic paper ID has declared him to be from a rival agency, and Jack is considered to be the sort of Intelligence agent who wouldn't know a real fight if he saw it. The two groups manage to work together reasonably well in spite of the tensions, investigating a series of mysterious deaths that show all the hallmarks of a mythical monster.

Enjoyed this one a lot, and not just because it has Captain Jack (who does not get to be on the cover). There's a good science fantasy mystery here, with the Special Forces team being more than just foils to show off how clever the Doctor is.

LibraryThing entry
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44) Gary Russell -- Torchwood: The Twilight Streets

Sixth of the Torchwood tie-in novels, set late in second season and with a lot of canon references. And my most favourite of all the canon references is the return of Idris Hopper, the Mayor's secretary from the Doctor Who episode Boom Town. :-)

There is a small block of streets in Cardiff, built by a Victorian businessman as model housing for his workforce. And never occupied for more than a few weeks at a time. Things happen to the people who try to live in Tretarri. Jack doesn't know why, because Jack can't get in. He gets a three day migraine every time he tries. But now the Council is renovating the block, with full-on gentrification and street parties to show off the results. Not just on the rate-payers' money, either -- private sponsorship is paying for the celebrations. But the block becomes more than a minor mystery for Jack's off-duty hours when it becomes apparent that Bilis Manger is behind the plans for change. And Bilis is still using visions of the future to prod the team into action.

It seems simple enough. Another round of stop Bilis Manger and save the world. But the old man's relationship with Good and Evil is rather more complex than that...

Really enjoyed this one. It's got an interesting plot, some excellent character development, and entertaining interactions between the various characters. All the regular characters get some page space, and there's some good stuff on the Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys and Tosh-Owen relationships. Also a delightful little scene in which Ianto tells Torchwood's Little Miss Sensitive (yes, he calls Gwen that) some home truths about what it's really like to be bisexual. :-> There's a lot of stuff referring back to canon, but most of it is tied into the story in such a way that it enhances the story for those who've seen the episodes without excluding those who haven't. It also includes a good in-universe explanation for why the Tardis crew didn't encounter Torchwood during the events of Boom Town (the external reason, of course, being that Torchwood the series was still a twinkle in RTD's eye at the time). The reason for the AU future's potential existence got a bit woolly in places, but the story in that timeline is really well done, if possibly over-angsty for some fans. Which is why I liked it, of course. :-)

Oh, and a word of praise for cover artist Lee Binding, who has done a lovely job in depicting some key elements of the story.

LibraryThing entry
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40) Jacqueline Rayner - Doctor Who: Winner Takes All

Third in the New Who novel line. Now this was a definite improvement over the previous title in the series. It's a revisit of the Last Starfighter scenario, but with some nasty twists, and not just the one you find in Ender's Game. Rose and Nine drop in to the Powell Estate to visit Jackie, and find that there's a new video game being promoted by people in porcupine costumes, using scratchcards given away with any purchase at local stores, no matter how small. Mickey is one of the people who's won a console, and as he explains, the console has only one game, but it's still good value, because it's so realistic, and complex enough to be a little different every time you play. Of course the Doctor can't resist showing off and beating Mickey's score, doing so thoroughly that he becomes number one on the aliens' list of useful humans to acquire.

The plot's interesting and the characterisations for Nine and Rose are good. But where the story really shines for me is in one of the one-off characters. Robert is a young teenager, complete with young teenage boy anxieties and fantasies, and his interior monologue is wince-inducingly realistic. He's someone a lot of fans will be able to identify with.

Enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. This one I'll probably re-read.


LibraryThing entry
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35) James Goss -- Torchwood: Ghost Train [audiobook]

2 CD Torchwood story written for audio, and set between second and third series. It's read by actor Kai Owen, for the very good reason that it's a first person narrative from one Rhys Williams, haulage manager. What we get is not just "actor reads book", but "actor in character tells us a story about what happened when he got mixed up in an alien invasion last week".

Rhys has a problem in the form of missing fridges, which to begin with looks like perfectly ordinary pilfering. But as Rhys looks into it, the mystery starts acquiring enough weirdness round the edges to make him think it could be Torchwood territory. Pity Torchwood's having a really bad day, and he can't even get advice about how to investigate his own little problem, never mind actual assistance. Rhys turns private investigator, and finds himself couriering packages that were delivered to Cardiff railway station - after midnight, on a long disused platform. It turns out that there's a Torchwood interest after all, but Torchwood proper is missing or dead, and only Rhys is in a position to put things back the way they should be.

The story's very entertaining, with a perfectly balanced blend of humour and horror, and a lot of running gags that turn out to be plot elements as well. Those plot elements are part of a carefully constructed story where various small details which have been layered in become important as the story gradually unfolds. And it's wonderfully read by Kai Owen. But along with all this, we get some lovely pieces of characterisation. The story revolves around Rhys, but we also see Rhys's view of Gwen and her job, and Ianto and Jack. A great story with plenty of re-listen potential. This entertaining audiobook easily justifies its cover price.

LibraryThing entry
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31) Stephen Cole -- Doctor Who: The Monsters Inside

Second of the tie-ins published for the new series. Adequate but nothing special adventure for Nine and Rose, which I'd have probably enjoyed rather more had I read it on initial publication rather than after the monsters of the week had appeared several more times on tv. The Doctor and Rose are arrested and separated within a few minutes of landing on an alien planet -- which turns out to be part of a solar system devoted to a privatised prison system, where landing without authorisation is itself a crime carrying a heavy sentence. Rose is shipped to a borstal, the Doctor is incarcerated in a scientific labour camp for aliens. They proceed to try and escape and find each other, but along the way realise that they have more problems than mere escape to deal with.

It's a Who tie-in novel, with nothing much to either recommend or disrecommend it. The moralising about the prison system is heavy-handed even by Whoniverse standards, although not enough to put me off reading it. Not one I'm inclined to give permanent shelfspace.

LibraryThing entry
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16) Justin Richards -- Doctor Who: The Clockwise Man

The first of the tie-in novels issued for New Who, and as such featuring Nine (Chris Eccleston) and Rose, who have landed in 1920s London and promptly get tangled up with not one but two deposed heirs to a throne. One is a young boy with haemophilia; the other appears to be the prince of some small east European country. And there are assassins on the loose -- assassins who are accompanied by the sound of clockwork. Add in a woman who always goes masked and who recognises the sonic screwdriver as inappropriate technology, and the Doctor and Rose have quite a task on their hands in sorting out friend from foe.

It would be unfair to criticise this novel for giving me a slight sense of deja vu, because it was published during the first series of the Who revival, long before the tv episodes which revisit some of the same ground. (I can think of at least three at the time of writing this review, though naming them would be too spoilerish.) This is a competently written tie-in with some interesting themes and a nice sf mystery, and while I don't get a solid sense of a specific regeneration's personality, this is clearly the Doctor and his world. An enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.

LibraryThing entry
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(Book 26 for 2010)

Fifth Torchwood tie-in novel, and the middle one of the trio released for the second season. This one has a couple of references which place it late in second season, but no spoilers, and you don't need to know anything but the basics about the universe to enjoy it.

Michael Bellini's a Cardiff dockhand, part of a workgang waiting to unload a ship late one night in 1953. A ship whose cargo includes a crate marked "Torchwood". A strange explosion leaves him in hospital, the only one of his mates to survive. But that's not the worst of his worries. There are the men who say they're from the union, but who are clearly government agents. They're not nearly as frightening as the men in black suits and bowler hats, who aren't men at all.

In the present day, a quiet Sunday in the Hub is interrupted by the intruder alarm. A young man has suddenly appeared in a locked room, and he's riddled with a strange form of radiation. It doesn't take long for the team to establish that he's a local boy, but out of time. Not so strange for Torchwood, but there's a twist -- they've all encountered Michael before. Owen was a junior doctor, learning the necessary art of forgetting about his patients at the end of the day. Tosh was a little girl in Japan. Gwen was on her first day with a new partner, and somehow feeling as if it was her first day in the police force. Ianto was in his second week at Canary Wharf, making friends with another recent starter called Lisa.

And Jack? Well, Jack's been with Torchwood a long, long time. His own encounter with Michael was out of hours, but he still knows something about Michael's first encounter with Torchwood, and the alien artefact that sent Michael leaping through time. And a few more things besides.

This is a beautifully constructed novel, which uses Michael's leaps back and forth through time to tell a solidly plotted story around Michael and the artefact, while giving some lovely backstory and characterisation for each of the main cast. Something I particularly liked is that we see the characters when they were younger, and in those scenes they feel like younger versions of themselves, before various things happened to them. There's also some good characterisation in the present-day scenes. The nature of the book means that all of the main cast get a good share of the word count.

This is my favourite of the novels so far. That's partly because it plays to things I like, but it's also because it's well written. And while the canonicity of the Whoniverse tie-in material is ambiguous, I think this one adds a little more depth to the Torchwood world, not just another monster-of-the-week story.

LibraryThing entry
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julesjones: Jack Harkness and a mug of coffee, Torchwood (coffee and Jack)
Another long piece of Whoniverse fanfic from Sam_Storyteller/Sam Starbuck/Copperbadge. This one's about 40k words long, i.e. short novel length, and uses those words to great effect. Sam has taken the "Doomsday" and "Cyberwoman" material, and linked it with some of the things we're shown about the classic Cybermen in the Hartnell and Troughton eras. The result is a story that takes Torchwood season 1, drops in one small fact a second or two after the credits roll in Cyberwoman, and makes you see parts of that season in a whole new light. It's beautifully written, with characterisations that build on and deepen what we get in canon. But this is more than good characterisation. There's a solid story here, one that would make a good tie-in novel.

The small fact is that Ianto wasn't physically converted, but *was* subject to direct mind control by Lisa's Cyber personality. With her death, the conscious control is gone, but that doesn't mean Ianto's free. Jack's interrogated more than one person who's survived an encounter with the Cybermen, he's heard enough about their methods to recognise what he's seeing, and he's not giving up Ianto without a fight.

It's not quite compatible with canon for me, because it doesn't quite mesh with the scene towards the end of Cyberwoman where Ianto is pleading with Lisa to remember who she is. But it makes a great deal of sense in the context of what we've been shown canonically about Cybermen over the years, both the original Mondas Cybermen of classic Who and the parallel universe Cybermen of new Who. This is an excellent piece of work, tying together elements of classic Who, new Who and Torchwood in a satisfying way.

Posted in five parts, plus author's notes on the canon material used, part 1 here. Sam's own description:
Rating: PG-13; R in the final chapter
Summary: Jack has studied the Cybermen for forty years, and he's damned if he'll let one take any of his people away from him without a fight.
julesjones: Jack Harkness and a mug of coffee, Torchwood (coffee and Jack)
This is a slightly unusual entry in the book log -- it's fanfic. But it's novel-length, and it's very good, and as far as I'm concerned it belongs in the book log.

A while back Sam Storyteller posted a Whoniverse short story about Jack Harkness, I Were The Heavens, Rating: PG for language, Summary: A sixteen-year-old boy from Boeshane is going to win the war. The Time Agency has a vested interest in children like him -- and so does the Admiral of the Fleet.

Now he's posted a novel-length story about what happened next. And it's set both just after that short story -- and just before Children of Earth. But this is no simple fix-it fic. This is a carefully crafted consideration of time paradoxes, and the potential for damaging your own past/future. It's difficult to discuss it in much detail without heading into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that Jack Harkness's convoluted timeline gives a distant future Jack a pressing reason to pull Ianto Jones into the 51st century -- and it's nothing to do with saving Ianto from an untimely death in the 21st century. Jack not only barely remembers Ianto, but to preserve the timeline will have to put Ianto back where he got him from once the job is done...

You'll need to have at least some familiarity with the Torchwood universe to follow this story, but it's a fine example of how good fanfic can be in the right hands.

Your Face Is Turned -- part 1 of 9
Sam's description:
Rating: R (more sex than you can shake a dick -- a stick! I mean a stick! More sex than you can shake a stick at.)
Summary: Lo Boeshane has a promising career ahead of him as he enters his first year of Fleet Officer Training, but the war is still with him and life at Quantico Station can be difficult. Meanwhile, Ianto Jones is just trying to figure out why the Doctor kidnapped him to the fifty-first century and why Jack abandoned him at a school for the Fleet's military elite. He suspects it may have something to do with Lo, but his attempts to help the troubled young veteran may damage his own timestream beyond repair.

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