Smith, Oli


3 out of 5

(2 books)

Doctor Who: Nuclear Time

An original adventure featuring the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions Amy and Rory.  Arriving in the Colorado desert in 1981, the TARDIS travellers find themselves in the suspiciously artificial Appletown.  They soon discover that the town is populated by homocidal androids and, worse, a bomber is en route to drop a nuclear bomb and destroy them, simultaneously turning the Cold War into World War Three.

There's a definite air of Stepford Wives about the opening of this book and whilst killer androids is old hat for Who, that didn't necessarily mean there wasn't going to be some fun to be had with the idea.  Unfortunately the book then takes a turn for the surreal as the Doctor starts living backwards through time, experiencing the effects of actions before he witnesses the actions themselves.  This is pretty high-concept and, frankly, it doesn't land well.  The author simply never does a good enough job of describing what living backwards through time is like for the Doctor and, as a result, the whole concept rapidly becomes both confusing and tedious.  Trying to figure out all the backwards speech was particularly irritating and I felt that if you didn't, then large parts of what's actually going on would be even more impenetrable.

Truth be told this book would only have rated a two out of five if not for one thing: Smith does a brilliant job of capturing the characters of the Eleventh Doctor, Rory and Amy.  The relationship between the three of them is particularly well handled and you genuinely got a sense of the chemistry that the three actors showed on screen.

3 out of 5


Doctor Who: System Wipe

An Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) story featuring Amy and Rory.  Arriving in the 23rd Century, the Doctor and his companions find the Earth abandoned and desolate.  Soon, however, the Doctor discovers an active console which leads him into a virtual world, Parallife, where the artificially intelligent programmes have created a new world to live in.  As gigantic robots begin demolishing the remains of the real Earth, the Doctor must try to save the AI people in danger of being erased in Parallife.

I was dubious going into this book; we've all seen 'The Matrix' and read 'Ready Player One' (reviewed here) etcetera, so can a very short Doctor Who book really show us anything new on the theme of a computerised reality?  Honestly, not really.  However, there is one significant difference between this story and the countless others that have gone before it and that is the Doctor himself.  Smith absolutely nails the personality of the Doctor and how this incarnation would react to this situation.  In particular what I loved was the way that not for a second does the Doctor view the programmes within Parallife as not being 'real', accepting them as alive and extending his protection to them immediately.

Unfortunately, other than the Doctor, the rest is just fairly derivative.  Not unenjoyable, but not groundbreaking either.

3 out of 5


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