When the TARDIS makes a disastrous landing in the swamps of
the planet Sunday, the Doctor has no choice but to abandon
Martha and try to find help. But the tranquillity of the swamps
is deceptive, and even the TARDIS cant protect Martha
for long. Meanwhile, the human pioneers of Sunday have their
own dangers to face: homeless and alone, theyre only
just starting to realise that the planets wildlife isnt
as harmless as it appears. Why are the native otters behaving
so strangely, and what is the creature in the swamps that
is so interested in both the humans and the new arrivals?
The Doctor and Martha must fight to ensure that human intelligence
doesnt become the greatest danger of all...
a distinct climatic theme to this batch of Tenth Doctor books.
Forever Autumn has
(duh, obviously) an autumnal flavour, Sick
Building is set on a planet covered in
wintry woods, and Wetworld is, as you will have
gathered from its title, a decidedly water-based adventure,
with plentiful rainfall.
Mark Michalowski has crafted a complex and intelligent tale
here, which makes ample use of the Tenth Doctors motor-mouth
sense of humour. For instance, theres a great joke about
the planets name (made at the expense of the colonys
Chief Councillor) and lots of asides as the Time Lord concocts
puns and other wordplay, approving or discarding his ideas
as he goes.
On the other hand, Martha doesnt get much to do during
the first half of the novel, due to her being variously trapped
in the TARDIS or in an otter den and/or unconscious. Her plight
does make for riveting reading, though, especially following
her initial disappearance.
Otters are a peculiar source of inspiration for an alien life
form, but ultimately a fascinating one. Far less pleasant
is a squid-like, slimy creature whose tentacles do some very
nasty things to several of the colonists, including some Frontios-style
manipulation of bodies, both living and dead. Fortunately,
despite the presence of the swamps and the creature, similarities
Power of Kroll are surprisingly few. The author
does throw in a few unobtrusive references to other people
and creatures from the old series, including Romana, the adjudicators
and the Krynoids.
Though the informal numbers assigned to these novels on online
stores suggest that this book is set before Forever Autumn
and Sick Building, the Gallifreyan characters on the
spine place it afterwards. This is supported by evidence in
the narrative itself, in which Martha recalls the events of
Family of Blood, the most recent live-action
episode so far to be referenced in a novel.
A couple of things struck me as rather odd about this book.
One is the absence of parents of a 16-year-old character called
Candy. Did she head off to the colony world by herself at
such a tender age, are her parents somewhere on the planet,
or did they die in the flood that recently devastated the
settlement? Michalowski doesnt specify. The other thing
is his description of one of the controlled colonists blinking
in a slow and insectile manner. This reads oddly
because insects dont blink and, to my mind, are associated
with rapid rather than slow movement.
For the most part, though, theres a world of enjoyment
to be had in Wetworld.