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Review: Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation January 9, 2016

Posted by sjroby in Book reviews, Doctor Who.
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And we’re back with more Netgalley reviews. Netgalley provides advance ereading copies in exchange for reviews. This time it’s the 12th Doctor novel Big Bang Generation by Gary Russell, the prolific Who novelist who’s also worked on Big Finish audios and the actual TV series, among many other things. This is one of three simultaneously released and loosely connected novels.

I didn’t like this one as much as I hoped I would.

After Doctor Who went off the air in 1989, the show lived in for several years in a series of novels, the New Adventures, that moved the story forward. One of the key developments was the introduction of a new companion, Bernice Summerfield, a 25th century archeologist. She was in many of the New Adventures and, when the publisher lost its Doctor Who licence at the time of the 1996 TV movie, they carried on the line with Bernice as the lead character for 22 more novels. When that line ended, the audio company Big Finish began its line of Bernice Summerfield audio adventures and books — dozens of them.

For Doctor Who fans who venture beyond the TV series, she’s kind of a big deal. And although she’s had audio adventures with the Doctor in recent years, she hasn’t appeared in an official Doctor Who novel in roughly twenty years.

So it’s a bit disappointing that she shows up in a mishmash of Douglas Adams and Steven Moffat featuring our protagonists battling against the end of all of time and space. It’s a humourous romp set against the backdrop of the destruction of Sydney, Australia, and the death of virtually all of its residents. Not that the humour always connects — Benny’s nickname, when she and her group are pretending to be con artists, is Da Trowel — nor does the huge body count really matter because you know there’s going to be a mighty whack on the reset button before the book is over. And that’s the problem. When you have the characters in a series book playing for the biggest stakes of all, there’s nothing at stake. The universe won’t be destroyed. All of the characters won’t be killed off. Everything will be back the way it was by the end of the book. All you’ve got is the journey, and it’s not as great a journey as it could be.

Russell does a decent job capturing Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, but his Benny doesn’t remind me of the one I’ve read about. But then she’s been through a lot of solo adventures I haven’t read or heard yet.

Then there’s the Glamour, the connecting thread of the three most recent 12th Doctor novels. It doesn’t seem to work quite the same way here as it does in Trevor Baxendale’s novel.

Overall, not awful, and sometimes enjoyable, but not fully satisfying. YMMV.

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