Doctor Who by Dan Abnett — review

DOCTOR WHO: THE SILENT STARS GO BY by Dan Abnett. BBC Books £12.99

Reviewed by Jay Eales

After last year’s special Doctor Who novel, The Coming of the Terraphiles, by living legend of science fiction Michael Moorcock, and talk of upcoming books by Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, you might be forgiven for being a little surprised to see Dan Abnett penning the latest. Don’t get me wrong – I speak as an Abnett fan from the days of his Knights of Pendragon and Sleeze Brothers comics for Marvel UK, through his ongoing strips for 2000AD. As a lapsed gamer, I am well aware of his hugely successful books for the Black Library. He just writes them far faster than I could possibly read them! He has every right to be given a high profile book like this. It’s just … he’s following Michael freaking Moorcock! Hopefully he will bring along the Abnettites to the range in the same way that his predecessor drew his fan base to buy their first Doctor Who novel.

These qualms aside, and taking the book on its own merits, I can see why he got the job. Where Moorcock wrote a Moorcock story that happened to feature the Doctor, Abnett does a bravura job of capturing the spirit of the current TV series in prose. Given they’re on the cover, it’s no spoiler to reveal the return of the Ice Warriors features heavily here. Abnett’s tic of creating neologisms is present and correct, and the regular cast are given sparkling dialogue throughout. I absolutely loved Abnett’s usage of the psychic paper. If only the regular line of Doctor Who novels were at this level. Sadly, all too often, they’re pale photocopies, not helped by the extremely tight deadlines the authors are given.

If you’re a fan of the current iteration of Doctor Who, you’ll find this goes together with it like fish fingers and custard. If you’re not, the statement still stands.