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[In Which I Read] Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor Adventures

ShannonA

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Re: Eighth Doctor Adventures #9: Longest Day by Michael Collier

Oh, God, the early EDAs *sucked*.
Well, glad to hear that later ones might not be as bad, because Vampire Science and Alien Bodies are the only ones that have stood out of the first nine.
 

DaveB

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Re: Eighth Doctor Adventures #9: Longest Day by Michael Collier

Well, glad to hear that later ones might not be as bad, because Vampire Science and Alien Bodies are the only ones that have stood out of the first nine.
Looking at a list on wikipedia, I think you're about halfway through the suck. There's a good one coming up in a few books' time, but the range only starts to kick into a higher gear around book 19.
 

ShannonA

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Re: Eighth Doctor Adventures #9: Longest Day by Michael Collier

Looking at a list on wikipedia, I think you're about halfway through the suck. There's a good one coming up in a few books' time, but the range only starts to kick into a higher gear around book 19.
That's genuinely thrilling to hear, because I'd begun to wonder if the whole line sucked!
 

DaveB

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Re: Eighth Doctor Adventures #9: Longest Day by Michael Collier

That's genuinely thrilling to hear, because I'd begun to wonder if the whole line sucked!
If I recall things that happened twenty years ago correctly, the first commissioning editor the BBC hired thought that the New Adventures had been too concerned with having plot arcs and wanted to go back to "simpler" stories. Combined with which, the EDA authors never collaborated to the extent that the NA ones did. Even though several were the same people. The point where the line takes an improving turn is when Steve Cole (who wrote a couple of them himself, later on) had taken over as editor and the books he commissioned started to come out.

I think the real problem with the EDAs, though, is that while the NAs were designed by continuity-nerds working from the entire old show but especially Remembrance of the Daleks, Ghost Light, Curse of Fenric, Battlefield, and Survival, the EDAs were written by people who often didn't share ideas, and were working from... The TV Movie. In this thrilling modern world of audio stories 8 is pretty well characterised, but when these books were being written? 60-odd minutes of a frankly terrible TV movie does not make a strong character.

Thinking back on it, the NAs really were weird. They had an editorial mandate to plug stories into a semi-firm chronology of the Who universe - the Dalek Invasion of Earth happens *here*, Earth's expansion slowly turns into an Empire which falls around Roz and Chris' time and eventually becomes the Federation from Peladon - and the BBC books didn't. The modern-day TV show has the strong characterization of the NAs but the cheerful ignoring of anything from any earlier episode that doesn't suit them of the EDAs.
 
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ShannonA

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Re: Eighth Doctor Adventures #9: Longest Day by Michael Collier

The point where the line takes an improving turn is when Steve Cole (who wrote a couple of them himself, later on) had taken over as editor and the books he commissioned started to come out.
Ironically, Cole also wrote one of the early books: Longest Day, using the pseudonym Michael Collier.

Thinking back on it, the NAs really were weird. They had an editorial mandate to plug stories into a semi-firm chronology of the Who universe - the Dalek Invasion of Earth happens *here*, Earth's expansion slowly turns into an Empire which falls around Roz and Chris' time and eventually becomes the Federation from Peladon - and the BBC books didn't. The modern-day TV show has the strong characterization of the NAs but the cheerful ignoring of anything from any earlier episode that doesn't suit them of the EDAs.
And that chronology in the NAs was one of the things I loved. I wish there were more of it in the modern TV show ... but the strong characterization keeps me enjoying it.
 
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ShannonA

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EDA #10: Legacy of the Daleks by John Peel

So it's been a long time since I've read one of the Eighth Doctor Adventures. That's not entirely because they're sucking. It's also because I'm getting ready to move and so I've been focusing on books I wanted to read out of the local library, instead of things in my personal collection. But, I needed something short to read, so I picked this little lauded book up off my shelf.

Doctor & Sam

Legacy of the Daleks is about the Doctor in the wake of Sam's disappearance ... and boy, I don't think I've ever seen so little attention given to a continuing subplot. "Excuse Me", Eight asks near the start, "Can you see if Sam is on Earth?" Near the end he gets a reply back that no, she isn't. Oh well. An advertising page near the end of the book then offers the exciting information that the Doctor will continue this intensive search in Dreamstone Moon and Seeing I. I can't wait.

(This is where you make a joke about it being better if she's never found.)

The Return of the Daleks

Obviously from the title, this one is about the Daleks. What's most interesting is that it's set on Earth, a few decades on from the Dalek Invasion. I love that continuity (though the folks at Big Finish apparently don't, as they've explicitly contradicted this book in "An Earthly Child" and others; c'mon folks, it's not that hard!) It's a bit surprising and disappointing to see Earth descended to techno-feudalism, but the book flags this as being due to the arrogance of humanity, refusing help from the colonies.

These are classic Daleks, dependent on little energy units on their back, which is a very nice touch.

However, I also found it notable how the Doctor goes on about how every time he thinks he's killed the Daleks, they return. It's a very new-show sentiment. (Also inappropriate here, since these are Daleks early in their history, and there hasn't been a Time War yet, to wipe them out retroactively.)

The Return of the Master

And the Master's back too. This is actually somewhat of a delightful surprise (though more careful readers might spot it sooner, as there are clues). It's also the old Roger Delgado Master, which is a nice twisting of time. Peel even has a good explanation: because the Doctor got a distress call from Susan, then followed it back in time, he ended up meeting an earlier version of the Master than he should have. (Does the explanation hold together? Maybe ... as the distress call came from a TARDIS in the timestream, but the Doctor only ends up going back a few days in Susan's timestream.)

Peel also decides to make this story the one that explains how the Master uses up his last regeneration and ends up a monstrosity in The Deadly Assassin. It's deftly done with a light touch ... until Peel clarifies it a second time and a third time and a fourth time just so you really get that this is the lead-up to The Deadly Assassin. (Having read two Peel books, I think I can say that he doesn't know the definition of subtlety.)

The Return of Susan

Did I say Susan? Yes! The Doctor's granddaughter is back too, and she gets a really fine send-off, heading off into the timestream in a TARDIS of her own.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this book has delightful continuity that walks the right side of being fun, not obsessive, until you get up to the final revelations about the Master. It's also plotted pretty well, avoiding the running around that drags down so many Doctor Who stories, instead offering a constantly and obvious forward momentum.

But John Peel is by no means a good writer. His dialogue is often cringeworthy and his explanations of peoples' emotions are likewise over the top. If he'd handed this plot to a good writer, this would have been one of the line's top trads. As is, it's still OK.

(I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.)
 

Count_Zero

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I'm kind of bummed that we never got a series of novels or Big Finish dramas about The Further Adventures Of Susan Foreman.
 

ShannonA

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EDA #11: Dreamstone Moon by Paul Leonard

Yawn.

Doctor & Sam

Yeah, the quest for Sam continues here, and it's annoying in a totally different way this time around. That's because Sam and the Doctor are back in the same era and they keep ... just missing each other. They also think the other is dead multiple times, which gets old even quicker than the almost meetings.

One good thing about all of this, is that we get to see the continued expansion and exploration of this particular future era. Though that's mostly just references to the Dalek wars. But it reminds us of what the 7th Doctor's novelistic adventures did well.

And at the end, instead of going back to the Doctor, Sam just takes off because she has the hots for him. Which touches back on the same idea in Longest Day, but two books later still feels like it comes out of nowhere. Maybe if I'd read them closer together.

And, that's the point where the companion leaves the series, yes? When she decides to head off on her own? Sadly not. The Doctor just says that she needs some to go off and grow up and is convinced to go back after her.

The Dreamstone Moon

Oh, hey, the plot of the novel. It's about the miraculous Dreamstone substance, and pretty early in the book it becomes pretty obvious that we're following the '80s-era trope where the Dreamstone is going to have some awful origin, because there's so much mysterious mysterious stuff about it in the book.

Yep, sure enough it's the brains of the moon, which is in turn the child of the planet and trying to have more children, except all in a totally non-Aliens ways. Or something like that.

There was some opportunity here for some great subtext and symbolism about mankind exploiting and abusing his environment, but Leonard doesn't seem big on subtext. Or symbolism.

Final Notes

Not horrible, not exciting. I could never get into it.

I suppose 3 out of 5.

Next one is actually good, yes?
 

Trotsky

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Yes, yes it is - it's one of the few books from this series that still really sticks in my mind, all this time after first having read it. The next few after that are, from what I recall, better on average than what went before, although not consistently so.
 
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