About the Author:
Mark Michalowski lives in Leeds, England.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
Doctor Who: Relative Dementias
A Past Doctor Adventure featuring the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Ace. Receiving a call for help from an old friend at UNIT, the Doctor and Ace travel to a remote Alzheimer's clinic in 1980s Scotland. It soon becomes clear that not only is something strange going on at the Graystairs clinic, but that the Doctor's friend has disappeared whilst investigating.
The Seventh Doctor and Ace are one of my all-time favourite Doctor/Companion pairings (in part because I had/have a huge crush on Sophie Aldred) and here, in his very first novel, Michalowski captures those characters absolutely perfectly. Every line of dialogue sounded in my head like McCoy and Aldred and every action they took was in keeping with their respective personas of benevolent manipulator and impulsive do-gooder.
Unfortunately, just about everything else falls short of the mark. The core mystery felt very generic and the truth behind it was so predictable that I pretty much saw how it would unfold immediately. Similarly the mystery of Stacy Chambers that the clinic residents overhear talk of is so blindingly obvious that you've probably guessed it from this one sentence, but somehow the brilliant schemer that is the Seventh Doctor totally misses it.
I've seen this story praised for its 'timey-wimey' stuff and, to be fair, at the time it was written Doctor Who as a whole hadn't actually done all that much with cleverly-plotted overlapping time-travel shenanigans. Unfortunately for any Who fans reading the book now, the show itself has often done that sort of thing (mostly thanks to writing by Steven Moffat) and done it much better. This means that the way time travel is used here is set up as a clever plot twist, but once again just feels obvious.
This isn't a book made up of bad elements, but what it has is a mix of things that are so obvious and almost cliched that the whole becomes thoroughly unengaging.
2 out of 5
Doctor Who: Shining Darkness
This original adventure sees David Tennant's Tenth Doctor and his companion Donna travelling to the Andromeda galaxy. When Donna is kidnapped by the Cult of Shining Darkness the two TARDIS travellers find themselves caught in the plots and counterplots of the robot-hating cult and their pro-mechanical enemies.
To be honest, I'm getting more than a bit bored of Who stories in which the Doctor's companion is kidnapped immediately after the start of the book (Michalowski's own 'Wetworld' begins with a similar event, for example) and this book didn't then do too much to alleviate that boredom.
Also, I'm starting to see how much of Donna's appeal (and I'm one of those who really rated her as a companion on TV) is entirely due to Catherine Tate's performance. Whilst the words and actions the author gives her seem largely correct, as a character she falls very flat here.
I was going to only give this book a two out of five, but I have to say that Michalowski's examination of bigotry, using the anti-robot sentiment of the Cult, adds a more interesting and mature layer to the book than the plot itself does.
3 out of 5
Doctor Who: Wetworld
An original adventure featuring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Martha Jones. The TARDIS arrives on a planet smothered by swamp and whilst the Doctor seeks help in extricating the vessel from the waters, Martha is captured by a sinister creature lurking within them. They then have to join forces with a beleaguered group of human colonists to unravel the creature's secrets and prevent it from escaping offworld.
This is a solid and enjoyable adventure for the Doctor and Martha, containing all the elements of a good Who story; suspicious colonists, mysterious lifeforms and a ticking clock of peril. If I had a criticism of this book it's simply that I figured out the nature of the creature long before the Doctor does and he's supposed to be much smarter than a human being.
Not epic or hugely groundbreaking, but a satisfying adventure for the TARDIS travellers.
4 out of 5