The Castor, a vast and seemingly deserted starship,
spins slowly in the void of deep space. Martha and the Doctor
explore this drifting tomb, and discover that they may not
be alone after all. Who or what survived the disaster that
overcame the rest of the crew? What continues to power the
vessel? And why has a stretch of wooded countryside suddenly
appeared in the middle of the craft? As the Doctor and Martha
journey through the forest, they find a mysterious, fog-bound
village - a village traumatised by missing children and prophecies
of its own destruction...
synopsis, with its apparently primitive earthbound setting
somehow connected to a derelict spaceship in the future, sounds
rather reminiscent of The
Girl in the Fireplace doesn't it? Evidently
Martin Day or his editors were also conscious of that fact,
so the author has the Doctor explicitly acknowledge the similarity.
Wooden Heart is also derivative of several other stories.
The plot borrows elements from the Doctor Who serials
Castrovalva and (just a dash of) The Mind of Evil.
I was also reminded of the Star
Trek: The Next Generation episode Remember
Me (people disappearing and the universe shrinking) and
Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Shadowplay.
Nevertheless, Day managed to surprise me regarding the nature
of the village and the origin of its population, and his narrative
structure keeps things moving along nicely.
Mind you, the book contains a fair few incidents and themes
that would probably be vetoed from a new series episode. Head
writer/executive producer Russell T Davies has said that we
will never see blood or humans committing acts of violence
against humans in his show, both of which we get here, but
then television is a visual medium whereas this is prose.
I also seriously doubt whether the Doctor's cheeky line about
the Castor's sister ship - "Never mind the Pollux"
- will make it into the talking book version!
of television episodes, in terms of chronological placement,
Martha indicates that she hasn't been home for a while. This
fact, together with her reference, in Sting
of the Zygons, to a recent visit to New York,
means that this batch of hardbacks probably takes place between
Evolution of the Daleks and The Lazarus Experiment.
Wooden Heart is the weakest of the current batch of
books. However, this is mostly an indication of the high quality
of the other two titles, Sting of the Zygons and The
Last Dodo, rather than any serious flaws in
Day's writing. In fact, I consider this to be the best batch
of new series novels to date. Not Pollux at all.