Archive for Dreams of Empire

[Book Review] Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2013 by Casey Hutton
Ten Little Aliens

Photo Courtesy of BBC Books.

I have been a fan of the Doctor Who television series for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching re-runs on the local PBS station on the weekends and once it was announced the series was making a comeback some years ago, I’ve been living in a world of not-so-old Doctors.

It might be worth pointing out that the Fourth Doctor, portrayed by Tom Baker, is the one and only Doctor for me. Although I find the newer actors and their portrayals interesting, no one before or after has been able to compare. So, going into picking up Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole from my local bookstore, I already had a bias (as it depicts the First Doctor, played by William Hurtnell) against the character as well as a bit skeptical in reading Doctor Who, rather than watching it. It caught my eye originally because it was the first in a series of 11 titles meant to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the good Doctor, and I’m rather anal retentive about reading a series in succession (i.e. I have to read the first three books to get to my favorite of all).

Now, Ten Little Aliens is not an original story in the sense of it being a re-release for the new series. It was originally released in 2002 and is now repacked with a new cover and introduction. However, having not read any previous Doctor Who title, it was all new to me.

The story itself was enough to captivate my attention. It follows along a group of soldiers on an elite training mission. The Doctor and his companions (Ben and Polly in this incarnation) land on an “asteroid” in which these solders end up. Not wanting to give anything away to those interested, the usual Doctor’s interference, slight comic relief and saves-the-day antics ensue. It reads similar to an episode, which is the point…or at least, I believe is the point.

Stephen Cole’s writing style is genuine and engaging. As per the introduction, he originally planned it to be based around another Doctor entirely, however, in the end it was the First Doctor that ended up being his focus. I honestly feel he captivated the First Doctor’s character rather well (and if it was once written as another, I could not tell). The character’s mannerisms, pattern of speech and general attitude match what I remember of the original Doctor. Although Doctor Who enthusiasts might disagree, I haven’t had much exposure to Hurtnell’s character.

One technique that threw me for a loop is the almost choose-your-own-adventure scene. Cole brought me back to younger days with this addition. Although it was merely flipping from character to character, it drew me into the action and what was happening in the pages. Keep in mind this uses up plenty in terms of page count and could be a waste if you skip through fast enough. But, if you have the patience and don’t mind some page flipping, it’s worth milking it for all it’s worth.

In conclusion, Ten Little Aliens is worth picking up and giving it a read. Even if you’re like me and only want to read to get to the Doctor that you love the most, it’s worth starting from the beginning and although I’m anxious to get to the fourth title, Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris, I have hopes for the two titles that stand in between (Dreams of Empire by Justin Richards and Last of the Gaderene by Mark Gatiss, respectively).

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