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Roderick Donald

Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

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2 March 2021

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

3.3: Children Of Eath - Day Three

So we’ve finally hit the half way point through this most epic week of episodes and episode three  changes the pace of the series in a way that shows how the team are really bonding together again.

 

Hiding away in Torchwood One, Jack, Gwen, Ianto and Owen become the master criminals; they’re being treated as such to re-establish the old equilibrium of the team. Using stolen technology, Torchwood quickly delve into what the Government are hiding and why they’re so desperate to kill them all. This feels like a slightly slower paced style of episode, but it’s done in an ideal way, as there is a lot of information that is gathered in this part to really build up the dramatic tension of the last couple of episodes.

 

The Torchwood team work out Frobisher has a huge part in the whole 456 coming to Earth and that’s where the amazing Lois Habiba also comes into her own. Gwen gives Lois contact lenses which can read lips and because she’s built up such a strong relationship with Frobisher and Bridget Spears, it’s no guess that Lois becomes a key part to infiltrating the whole mystery behind what’s going on. The plan is all falling neatly into place for the team.

 

With how fast paced the previous episodes have been, it’s nice that we get a moment of calm and reflection about the whole situation. This is very apparent during the scene between Jack and Ianto, where the sudden realisation hits, that Jack will keep going even after Ianto has died of old age. It’s that moment of foreboding, that once you rewatch the episode, really pulls at your heart strings, knowing they will never have the life they were expecting to live. This is the curse of working for Torchwood.

 

While all this is going on, Jack’s daughter makes the mistake of trying to find out what happened to him after the explosion and inevitably gets kidnapped, just to add more heart breaking developments for Jack.

 

With all the kids pointing towards the sky, the 456 makes its grand entrance in London as it decends into a poison gas chamber which the government has created. The orchestral music, mixed in with the alarms blasting through the building, make this scene a pivotal changing moment, however all of a sudden it goes quiet. It really adds gravitas to the situation as the world has changed in a blink on an eye. The silence is gripping, as it is suddenly disturbed by acidic slime being thrown against the glass. It’s true Torchwood gross humour and creepiness that the series does so well.

 

Frobisher trying to do what’s right, has the whole world against him. Jack confronts him on the situation and reveals the fact that he knows the 456 has been here before. Clement McDonald is living proof of this, as with a sudden revelation he recognises Jack from 1965, when the first group of children were handed over to the 456. It’s a moment of reflection, as just like The Doctor, Jack has a dark and dangerous history that he continually hides from his team. It creates a great moment when Jack and Frobisher talk, as Jack can give his experience on the situation. However that’s not how the Government see it.

 

The whole story is tied into a truly impactful cliffhanger, as the 456 demands they hand over 10% of the children of earth. This most dramatic and brutal style of the 456 has revealed its face at last, but to keep everyone gripped, the reason still remains a mystery.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 

 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
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[Source:
DWO]

22 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Nathan Burton

RRP: £4.00 / $5.25 (Paperback) | £2.00 / $2.51 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 22nd February 2021

From the stunning cover, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Tales Of The Starmen: Volume 1, by Nathan Burton was a graphic novel, but this is in fact a short but punchy space saga.

The story focuses on two brothers; Helion and Eckron, who, despite their disparity, must fulfil their royal duties.

There is a great variety of pacing here; we go from a vicious space fight to a street race in Kingson, Jamaica. Both these scenes act as stark metaphors for the differences between the two brothers. One just wants to win a race (Helion) and the other wants to ascend the Nova Throne (Eckron). That being said, there are more to the characters than their differences - particularly Eckron. Sure, he is unlikeable and power hungry, but, rather geniusly, there's a redeemable side to him that you discover near the end of the book. One particular line we loved from Eckron near the end, was as follows:

‘He said he wanted to be like me. Perhaps I should make some effort to be more like him.’

For a story so short, there's actually some decent character development, and whilst the cast of characters are relatively small, each have purpose and place within the narrative. We also love the diversity; this is very much a black-centric royal family and outside of the likes of Black Panther or Coming To America, its fantastic to have a black royal family represented in literary form for us Science Fiction fans.

It is clear that the author is a SciFi fan - and a well-seasoned one at that. There are hints of Star Wars and even The Fifth Element here, but Burton makes Tales Of The Starmen very much his own.

Whilst this is Volume 1 of a proposed series, it also acts as a satisfying conclusion. For those who hate cliffhangers, you can rest assured of a stress-free ending. Whenever Volume 2 does come out, it will mark a new chapter in this fun, gripping, pleasantly manageable saga.

+  Tales Of The Starmen: Volume 1 is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Nattybe96 (Nathan Burton) on Twitter.

19 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Jodi Bowersox

RRP: £10.13 / $7.14 (Paperback) | £3.05 / $4.26 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 19th February 2021

Mars Madness is book 1 in a 3 book series by author, Jodi Bowersox. It's self-titled as an 'out of this world romantic adventure' and boy does it deliver on that promise! What was left out of that headliner, however, is just how funny it is, too. 

We follow divorced mum of one, Katrina McKenna as she reluctantly buys a lottery ticket (on her daughter's insistence) for a luxury, two-year Mars adventure. The chances of wining are astronomical  to say the least (if you pardon the pun), but chance finds its way to Kat and before she knows it, she finds herself, begrudgingly on her way to Mars.

Thing is... her ex husband, who works for the company sending her to Mars, is also going to Mars, and he will be bringing their daughter along for the ride. All isn't as straightforward as one would think, though, and half of the fun we have is just getting to Mars. Hell, even leaving Earth has its fair share of setbacks with errant robotic maids, stowaway daughters and... an Israeli terrorist?!

We love the dialogue between Kat and her husband Doug; they really do reflect a real life ex-couple - complete with all the fallout (bad and good) that comes with it. Their daughter, Francesca is the magnet that has kept them in each others lives, and whilst you can see why they have gone their separate ways, there's this underlying feeling of wishing they could work things out.

Bowersox is a wizard in the way she sets up the situations our characters find themselves in. They present themselves as quietly comic (and not so quietly in some places) playlets, and whilst there are undoubtedly predictable outcomes that you relish as a reader, the author also takes you in unexpected directions.

It's tricky not to spoil things, but we will say that the ending wasn't at all what we were expecting, and it is absolutely a better story as a result. It sets up book 2 perfectly, and there's even a little sneak peek at the prologue for the sequel (Beware The Eyes Of Mars) at the very end.

There is a wonderful phrase that states; "The fun is in the journey", and nowhere is this more present than in Mars Madness. A fun read that has heart and soul!

+  Mars Madness is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JodiBowersox on Twitter.

9 February 2021

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

3.2: Children Of Eath - Day Two

There really is no letting up for the Torchwood team. With Captain Jack now seemingly killed in the blast that ripped through Cardiff Bay, Ianto and Gwen make a daring escape from it as as well as the assassins on their trail. Gwen really comes into her own this story as a fake paramedic tries to kill her, Gwen really shows she has things to lose now, especially with her recently finding out she’s pregnant.

 

While all of this is happening in Wales, we shoot back to the unfortunate Frobisher who finally gets the details of the message being transmitted through the children, which is in fact being broadcast through the 456 frequency. The prime minister seemingly washing his hands of the situation, makes him a person not to be anyones best friend. I do feel for Frobisher’s character as he appears to be a man who just wants to do his job well, but has some horrible influences contradicting him at every turn.

 

Ianto brings his life more into the foreground, as he talks to his sister about the events circling around his life, from his dad pushing him too hard and Ianto just wanting to protect his family at all costs. This is something that becomes very apparent later on in the series.

 

Gwen and Rhys flee from Cardiff as soon a possible, heading for London. They stow away in a lorry full of potatoes, which provides the perfect location for Gwen to pluck up the courage to announce her pregnancy to Rhys. They all seem remarkably happy about it, including Gwen, almost making the whole Owen and Gwen affair from the last two series, completely forgotten about. However this does throw a few curve balls into the team dynamic, as there is more of a sense of risk not only to Gwen, but to her future baby.

 

You can’t have Torchwood without some good old body horror gore can you? They find Jack, well most of him, and it is some of the most toe curling stuff in the shows history. The people out to kill Torchwood, place his remains in a vault in a secret location, which seems extreme until Jack’s remains start glueing themselves back together in the body bag. John Barrowman really plays Jack coming back to life so well, as you can hear and feel the pain through the television screen. When you think all is well, to stop him from talking yet again, the assassins then pour concrete over Jack to silence him once more.

 

While all of this is taking place, for Lois Habiba her second day has been, well she has definitely thrown herself into the deep end. With her curiosity surrounding the happenings with the 456 and Torchwood itself, it appears she has now become a vital member for the Torchwood team. In a dodgy cafe, over a pie and chips, Lois meets Gwen and Rhys for a vital talk.

 

We then swiftly move onto the big breakout plan for Jack, which in true Torchwood style, has Ianto in a forklift truck throwing the big block of cement that Jack is encased in, over a cliff edge. Cliffhanger ending, anyone? Jack, like many other times, brushes the whole situation off as the Torchwood team finally reunite to fight their unknown foe.

 

The vital moments in this episode, are primarily what happened in 1965? What does the 456 want from Earth? Mr Dekker seems to be awfully calm about the whole situation and that creates a sense of being highly uncomfortable. 24 hours is all they have, but how bad can it possibly get?


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
+ Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter!

[Source:
DWO]

9 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Xavier Marcé

RRP: £14.47 / $19.99 (Paperback) | £FREE / $FREE (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th February 2021

Modern Warfare meets SciFi in Mark Of Odin: The Awakening - a gripping story from the pen of Xavier Marcé.

The events of the story are set in 2012, where Luis (our main character) is set to graduate in Aerospace Engineering. Everything is going his way until Luis begins to have recurring nightmares from mythical beasts from Norse mythology.

We want to start by drawing particular attention to the prologue (set in Norway, 60,000 years ago), which instantly submerses the reader into the author's fantastic use of descriptive exposition;

"The city resembled a marble ocean in shades of blue and green; it was formed by palaces and large buildings that were dotted all over with the lush greenery of trees and cleaved through by wide stone avenues. The port area thronged with the city’s inhabitants who were heading to the ships with their most prized possessions. One vast building with a dome of titanic proportions stood out above the rest, dominating the centre of the city."

After being introduced to Luis and one of his nightmarish dreams, the story then switches tone, pace and location completely as we are introduced to Lieutenant Colonel Jack Preston of the United States Air Force, who is working on a prototype which ties in with what Luis is working on, half a world away. Soon their worlds collide, and, without giving too much away, their world's are not the only ones to collide...

The tying in of Norse mythology with that of a modern day setting is incredibly well thought out and successfully executed, and the final four chapters will have you gripped as there are flavours of Independence Day with a dash of Thor. That being said, there's no emulation here - Mark Of Odin is very much its own beast and with a conclusion that guarantees more to come, you'll be counting down the weeks, days and minutes until the next instalment.

It's worth mentioning that Mark Of Odin was originally published in the author's native Spanish, and having seen this with other books in the past, it normally comes at a cost in descriptions and sense of character. We were very pleased to say that nothing is lost in translation, and it stands shoulder to shoulder with its native version. The book is steeped in the flavour of Spain; from touching on its society to its history, you really get a rich sense of identity in the novel.

Rather ingeniously, once you are done reading Mark Of Odin, you can continue the reading experience  via an online pass which unlocks a digital edition with bonus chapters and stories. This really boosts your whole experience of the story and also gives you direct access to the author himself, via the online forum. It it because of this exciting way of creating and distributing additional content, that it really does feel bigger than the sum of its parts and, as such, we look forward to delving further into Marcé's world!

+  Mark Of Odin: The Awakening is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @MarkOfOdin (Xavier Marcé) on Twitter.

8 February 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By:Roland Moore

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: January 2021

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Sometimes the TARDIS takes the Doctor to where he needs to go...

Answering a distress call from the out-world of Triketha, the Doctor and Constance Clarke discover human colonists battling against an onslaught of giant, malevolent insects. The insects’ sting induces a coma, and it is only a matter of time before all the colonists succumb.

The Doctor is curious as to the origins of the insects, which appeared from nowhere, and offers his assistance to the colony’s governor. But is this the Doctor’s first visit to Triketha, or has he been here before? The Doctor must confront a past that he has no memory of and take responsibility for the consequences of his actions."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

In the interviews for Colony of Fear, it's mentioned that the gestation period for it has been around two years and that Roland Moore's script has taken many twists and many turns along the way. This utterly blindsided me as I had come away from the play feeling it had been rushed into production and needed at least a couple more passes by a script editor.

Yes, sadly all good things must come to an end and so the run of very good Main Range plays stutters to a halt. On paper, it sounds okay: parasitic mind wasps vs. the Sixth Doctor on a jungle planet, trying to defend a colony when a face from his past turns up. In practice, it's lacklustre at best.

You can see this in the characters, who act in a way that serve plot beats but little else. Why else would Tarlos not immediately reveal all to the Doctor once it's clear the Doctor can't remember? Because it's needed for a cliffhanger and then needed to pad out the following episode. Why does the Doctor dismiss the idea of saving the colony so quickly? Because we're near the end of the play. Why does Edwin stop distrusting the Doctor so quickly at the start of Part Four? Because it's the start of Part Four and we need that conflict resolved. And so on.

It's not subtle and it's not especially well done. It feels like it could go all-in on a b-movie vibe: we're one step away from someone crying, "But the wasps, man! The wasps!" It holds back though, and that's to its real disadvantage. Perhaps it should have gone for straight pastiche instead of po-faced cliché? Perhaps that would have helped.

The most notable part of the story comes with the aforementioned Tarlos, a companion of the Second Doctor who was accidentally returned home years before he left and has had to hide out and bide his time: and the Doctor can remember nothing about him, because the Time Lords have wiped his memory.

The play desperately wants you to care why, even introducing a could-be-a-new-companion in the form of Solana to have the Doctor not take aboard as a result of the consequences of taking Tarlos (broken families, broken promises). The trouble is, I didn't care at all. Tarlos just isn't a very interesting or engaging character. He's a vaguely intriguing plot point but not one as exciting as the script wants you to think he is. Perhaps they were angling for a return visit, or a spin-off box set? He warrants neither.

Just as the script overstated his intrigue, so do many of the plot twists overstate their surprise. The shock reveal of what occurs when people go into comas isn't a shock reveal. The surprise of what Edwin sees on his video is not a surprise. This is how things play out from start to finish, and it makes for a dud.

There is a half-decent idea and premise in here with Tarlos but two years' work has not created a half-decent play. Instead, it makes for a slog and the biggest twist and shock was how long it took to arrive at this destination. A shame.


+ Colony Of Fear is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


7 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Duane Simolke

RRP: £5.65 / $8.00 (Paperback) | £2.31 / $3.15 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 7th February 2021

Alternate realities and parallel timelines are the hot topic of the moment in both the cinematic and televisual worlds, and whilst one could argue that the concept has been around for years in the hallowed halls of written fiction, there have been slim pickings on the spread of titles we have read that feel refreshingly different.

Sons Of Taldra by Duane Simolke is exactly that - refreshingly different, and at its beating heart is some much needed diversity that slots in effortlessly and with purpose. And why shouldn't it?! When we think of the future and interactions with alien species, one can only accept diversity in all its many, beautiful colours. Colours that Simolke captures perfectly within the pages of this story.

Surfing the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, as the title suggests, Sons of Taldra follows Taldra (Leader of Valchondria - an alternate Earth), and her twin, gay, 19-year-old sons; Argen and Telius. Together they fight off an alien attack, but what quickly becomes apparent, and what is rather poignantly paralleled by the author, are the battles closer to home.

There are most definitely flavours of Star Trek: Discovery, which is particularly interesting as the book was published in 2016 - a full year before the first series of the aforementioned show. Just like Discovery, there is a broad spectrum of diverse characters - each with purpose and prominence, and despite being a short read, everyone fits in perfectly without any overcrowding. 

It is a short book, coming in at just 106 pages, but don't let that fool you into thinking this is a throw-away "short story". This is hands-down one of the most rounded books of this length that we have ever read. It's engaging and thought-provoking and whilst it may be a work of fiction, you cannot help but see the seeds of a future we could be heading towards.

As far as conclusions go, it's one of celebration, and one that ties back into the diversity we mentioned earlier. It's a beautiful end, and the last sentence in particular is one that we wish would be even more prevalent in our own time. Top marks to the author on this incredibly well-accomplished pocket SciFi.

+  Sons Of Taldra is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @DuaneSimolke on Twitter.

4 February 2021

BBV Productions, who made their name in Doctor Who fandom during the 1990s, have recently released a brand new video diary series on YouTube.

The series, dubbed 'P.R.O.B.E. Online' can be viewed on the BBV Productions YouTube Channel, and ties in with the short story anthology, P.R.O.B.E.: Out Of The Shadows, from Arcbeatle Press.

You can watch the current video diary in the player below:

[Source: James Hornby]

4 February 2021

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Written By: Bella Rayne

RRP: £14.95 / $16.43 (Paperback) | £3.19 / $4.35 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 4th February 2021

Bella Rayne's The Fate Of Magick centres around Dabney West; a befreckled, red-headed, self-reliant, loner, and, in her own words, "a force to be reckoned with". Dabney (great, unusual name by the way) is hugely affected by a horrific incident involving her parents, which changes her life forever.

If that wasn't enough, Dabney and her husband have drifted apart, and the company she works for is responsible for dumping toxic waste into her treasured forest. Having been caught taking photos and video of the incident, Dabney is later found out and sacked from her job.

Desperate for a fresh start, she moves to a new city to start her new life. It is in this new life that she begins having vivid dreams with strange messages. There's also a rather shocking predator (the details of which we won't spoil here), but it makes for some uncomfortable reading. That being said, it is this point in the story that you really feel a change in stakes.

With newfound powers and a true sense of empowerment, we see our central character change before our eyes and it is one of the most beautiful yet shocking changes we have ever seen to a character on the page...ever! Speaking of which, Dabney is surrounded by a fantastically diverse set of characters - not all of which she can trust...

We love the way in which Dabney is telling her story to us; at times it feels like a conversation with an old friend, and there are certain moments or subjects she talks about that the reader can totally align with. There's a whole section about Twitter, of which there are some elements many of us can relate to!

There are some racy moments, some downright scary moments, and best of all, moments that will have you punching the air for our heroine, in this darkly beautiful story from Bella Rayne.

One cannot help feeling there may be similarities to our protagonist and the author; Dabney comes across so clearly on the page and the details of her life are so rich and fleshed out that it almost feels like elements of a life that has actually been lived. She is even an author of the paranormal!

The wonderful ending sets things up for a sequel, and promises of adventures new. We will be there for the ride and recommend this book for anyone who loves the fantasy / romance genres.

+  The Fate Of Magick is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @BellaRayne10 (Bella Rayne) on Twitter.

3 February 2021

Digital entertainment studio Maze Theory, in partnership with BBC Studios, is excited to reveal that cryptic ‘found-phone’ adventure game, Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins, will launch on March 19th 2021 for  iOS and Android mobile devices and Steam.     

Following their encounter with the Tenth Doctor, the Weeping Angels were trapped in the basement of Wester Drumlins. That is, until now…Merciless as ever, the Weeping Angels are back with a vengeance. Will you be able to uncover the truth and avoid their clutches? Now that the Weeping Angels have the power to infiltrate technology, no device is safe…

Developed by the award-winning studio Kaigan Games (Sara Is Missing, SIMULACRA), Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins thrusts players into a dark mystery amidst a series of sinister events occurring at Wester Drumlins, a decrepit and supposedly uninhabited house in London. Building on the iconic Doctor Who episode ‘Blink’, all is not what it seems as ex-UNIT scientist Petronella Osgood (played by Ingrid Oliver) enlists the player’s aid in tackling a familiar and lethal foe. 

Filmed in London and Cardiff, the game sees players interacting with a mysteriously discarded phone in order to uncover its secrets and that of its former owner. Blurring the line between live-action footage and gameplay, players will need to piece together clues and work with Petronella Osgood to trace connections to the first horrific encounter within Wester Drumlins. 

Starting today, players can pre-register for access on iOS and Android devices, and pre-order or wishlist the game on Steam, with more news to follow on the Nintendo Switch version. Visit www.doctorwhothelonelyassassins.com to see how pre-registration will unlock special rewards and must-have fan content, including bonus story content, digital wallpapers and printable posters.

Watch the pre-registration trailer in the player, below:

[Source: Maze Theory]

1 February 2021

Publisher: Self-Published

Written By: Barbara J. Gilbert

RRP: £8.04 / $10.99 (Paperback) | £2.19 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 2nd February 2021

Future Apocalypse: Beginnings is the first in a thrilling new time travel series from Barbara J. Gilbert.

We follow Paulette Brown, a young woman who, after dealing with a personal tragedy in her hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, moves with her Mother to Washington.

Due to the events of her life in Wilmington, Paulette cannot shake her wish to change the past, which leads to her eventual elopement of a time pod, with her best friend, Greg.

With a relatively small pool of characters, one feels more intimacy with the plot and in turn, really hones in on Paulette's journey. You know that the people she meets are rich and rounded, and not just thrown in as padding. We particularly liked what the author does with Greg - whilst he supports his best friend, you feel the real-life conflict between them as he doesn't always agree with Paulette.

One of the things that we really loved, which, on paper, may not seem necessarily ground-breaking, was the fact that we follow 10 years of Paulette's life (and half the book) before we get our first taste of any time travel. As a reader you follow Paulette's struggles to get her project to conclusion, and you are chomping at the bit to see her dream realised. Hats off to the author for the slow build as it gives us time to get to know our protagonist, before she's thrust into the action.

Needles to say, time travel has its own rules and pitfalls, and it's not long before Paulette is thrown into a world-changing dilemma that picks up the pace and hurtles the reader in a fantastic, exciting new direction. It's this gear change that almost makes you feel you are reading two different stories - nay, genres. It's a delightful pace breaker and it comes at exactly the right moment.

The ending is far from what you think it will be, with all predictability thrown out the window, and with two more titles in the series now available, we are looking forward to seeing where Paulette's adventure takes her! Highly Recommended!

+  Future Apocalypse: Beginnings is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @BarbaraJGilber2 (Barbara J. Gilbert) on Twitter.

31 January 2021

Publisher: Modern Mystic Media LLC

Written By: Grace Blair & Laren Bright

RRP: £11.98 / $14.99 (Paperback) | £2.20 / $3.01 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 31st January 2021

Albert Einstein has appeared in Doctor Who a couple of times during the show's long history; most recently in the mini episode 'Death Is The Only Answer', but what has been sadly lacking is a full-on, Einstein-centric, time travel adventure.

While we wait for that day to come, our attention was drawn to Einstein's Compass; a Young Adult time travel adventure from the joint pens of Grace Blair and Laren Bright.

Focusing on a young Einstein, the story sees our famed mathematician given a special compass from his Father - a compass which opens the doorway to an adventure that spans millennia. From mythical Atlantis to ancient Egypt, through biblical times to mystical beasts; it's a non-stop whirlwind of time travel fantasy, with a good old dash of good vs evil that will have you gripped throughout. 

Einstein's Compass has a real vibrancy, thanks in part to the way in which the many locations are brought to life in broad technicolor strokes, juxtaposed with the authors' rounded characters - some of which you will know, and get a kick out of their interactions.

Whilst the content is almost wholly a work of fiction, there are factual elements peppered within that add a wonderful balance, keeping the reader's mind open to the possibilities; something that Einstein was renowned for and also something that this book ultimately pays tribute to.

This is a book that is written by two authors, but yet it reads absolutely and unequivocally as one. You sense no conflict in tone or direction, nor do you feel like the narrative is pulling in any jarring direction. Clearly this is a work of genuine passion from Blair and Bright and it shines in every drip of ink on the page.

+  Einstein's Compass is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @GraceBAuthor (Grace Blair) on Twitter.

27 January 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Lizbeth Myles

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: December 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Something haunts the peak of Ben MacDui.

Something with heavy footsteps, striking terror in the hearts of those who sense it. With climbers going missing, retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart visits Scotland to investigate.

But when some old friends join his ascent, he worries that they will make things even more dangerous. As the snows blow in, and mists surround them, the Doctor, Ace and the Brigadier will face the Grey Man of the Mountain..."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

I’ve commented recently that right at the very end of the line the monthly range of Doctor Who plays from Big Finish has kicked up a gear. That continues here with The Grey Man of the Mountain.

I listened to this on a cold day in Edinburgh, snow melting into slush and dangerous ice forming on the pavements, and it couldn’t have been more apt. Lizbeth Myles’s story is set in Scotland where something seems to be stalking those who wish to climb Ben Macdui, Scotland’s second highest mountain. Doctor Who has of course dipped into folklore horror before to good effect, and it’s pulled off again here to similar results.

The first thing to highlight with it all is how good Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are in this one. It’s their most screen-accurate portrayal in a long time.  Maybe it’s because of the presence of the Brigadier in there, adding to a vague air of ‘authenticity’? I couldn’t say.  All I know is that both of them are channeling the same energy they had back in Season 26 throughout and it works wonders. Speaking of the Brigadier, Jon Culshaw is on duty here and I’d say it’s his strongest performance in the role yet. Culshaw is at his best when doing a proper performance and giving an air of Nicholas Courtney’s original, rather than trying to be slavishly accurate, as I feel is sometimes the case in the Third Doctor range. Here though he’s on fire and his warmth for the role, McCoy and Courtney really comes across. Lucy Goldie as Kirsty is likewise very good and puts in a memorable performance with spark and vibrancy.

Myle’s script is worth celebrating, too. I genuinely laughed aloud at the wink about ‘Science leads’, and the reference to Battlefield’s slightly obscure timeframe is fun as well, both good examples of continuity points that aren’t exclusive to fans and don’t swamp proceedings: other writers please take note. Myles has delivered good things before, with Distant Voices for The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles being perhaps my favourite of her audio work, and I dearly hope she does more for Big Finish.  She has a distinctive narrative voice and this script in particular feels well-researched and fresh. The final episode perhaps isn’t quite as strong as the others, but in any tale with a mystery the revelation is often a bit less impressive than the smoke and mirrors leading up to it, so I wouldn’t mark it down for that and it makes good use of the Brigadier and the Doctor’s relationship with and perception of the character. Likewise, if Thaddeus and Niamh feel familiar in terms of their character and story path, it doesn’t matter so much as the script serves them well and the actors likewise.

It’s Kirsty and Ace who really stand out though. Myles has given us one of the most believable relationships between companion and guest star for a while now.  It feels utterly authentic to Ace’s character, especially the ending between them, and makes for one of the most memorable and true pieces of writing we’ve had for ages.

Less successful perhaps is in some of the production. The music and sound design are both very good, atmospheric and enveloping respectively, but this is definitely a play where the remote recording set-up is more notable than elsewhere thanks to telltale pauses that linger just that fraction of a second too long between sentences in an exchange of dialogue. This is especially the case early on with Ace and Kirsty, which is a real pity. I wish a slight tightening in the edit had happened to make it flow a bit better, because once you notice those fleeting fractions, it’s a wee bit hard to un-notice them.

Try to though, because it’s not the fault of the script. This is a good one, make no mistake. I hope Myles returns to the Big Finish fold before too long as it’s authors like her that make misfires elsewhere feel like softer blows.


+ The Grey Man Of The Mountain is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


27 January 2021

Publisher: Author's Reach

Written By: Francesca Tyer

RRP: £9.19 / $6.96 (Paperback) | £1.99 / $2.72 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 27th January 2021

The Firestone is the debut novel from Francesca Tyer - book 1 in a proposed series.

The story focuses on James; a fourteen year-old boy who, after witnessing a strange event at an airport, finds his way to an old clock shop that helps open the door to a new, exciting world.

One cannot help but feel some kindred similarities with Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, but rather than feeling like emulation, The Firestone very much treads its own path. We only mention this as fans of those books will feel very much at home here.

Terrific pacing sees James and his newfound friends bounding forwards in this wonderful, magical adventure, that has time quite literally at its heart. There is a quest within the story (and what a quest it is!) that will soon make it clear to the reader where the following books in the series may go. Needless to say, it powers you through, and whilst the phrase is horrendously overused in reviews, this really is a page turner, in the truest sense.

The author's use of descriptions are just wonderful; the way she paints misty, night-time London is so evocative and really sets the standard early on. With cavernous cities, fire, ice, wolves and dragons, The Firestone is simply brimming with excitement at every turn and the conclusion will have you both satisfied and desperate for more.

With the promise of a return trip to Arrisel, Francesca Tyer has set up the series perfectly in this first book. To think this is Tyer's first novel is mind-blowing - for this is the work of a seasoned writer whose attention to detail, character development and world building, galvanises her as a most accomplished author.

The Firestone, in our opinion, could very well be the next big thing since Harry Potter and it is simply screaming out to be made into a movie series! Most definitely recommended!

+  The Firestone is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @FTyer_ (Francesca Tyer) on Twitter.

22 January 2021

The team over at Ten Acre Films have been in touch with news of a reprint of their Doctor Who title, Script Doctor: The Inside Story Of Doctor Who 1986-1989!

Script Editor Andrew Cartmel's inside account of the final years of classic Doctor Who returns for a limited reprint.

‘There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea’s asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on, Ace – we’ve got work to do!’

Andrew Cartmel was the script editor on Doctor Who from 1986 to 1989. During his time on the show, he introduced the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) and oversaw 42 scripts written by eight writers new to the series.

With a clear mission to bring proper science fiction back into Doctor Who, he formulated what was later termed ‘The Cartmel Masterplan’, reintroducing the mystery to the character of the Doctor as the series celebrated its 25th anniversary and beyond.

Script Doctor is his memoir of this time, based on his diaries written sometimes on set and sometimes not even in the diary itself but on the backs of script pages.

With an introduction by modern-era Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, a foreword by Sylvester McCoy, and an afterword by Sophie Aldred, this book is illustrated with 32 pages of photographs, many never published before. It is a vivid account of life in the Doctor Who production office in the late eighties.

+  More information can be found at the Ten Acre Films, Big Cartel page.

[Source: Stuart Manning]

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