In the far future, the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack find
a world on which fiction has been outlawed. Here it is a crime
to tell stories, a crime to lie, a crime to hope, and a crime
to dream. But somebody is challenging the status quo. A pirate
TV station urges people to fight back. The Doctor wants to
help - until he sees how easily dreams can turn into nightmares...
Rose Tyler's amazing technicolour dream-sweater! Either she
possesses a number of such garments with similar stripes on
the arms, or the same sweater that keeps changing its colour
to match whichever cover she's on at the time. On the front
Deviant Strain it was blue, on Only
Human it was green, now on this book it's a
idle speculation would be deemed criminal on Colony World
4378976.Delta-Four, where even the slightest use of imagination
has been outlawed. Lies, of course, also played a large part
in Only Human, in which the Neanderthal Das had trouble
grasping the concept of the deliberate untruth. And, like
the future civilisation depicted in that previous novel, the
people of this world have only dim recollections of their
own history - the planet used to have a proper name, as opposed
to its dull designation, but everyone seems to have heard
a different rumour about what that name used to be.
starts out as a seemingly straightforward "oppression is bad"
kind of message proves not to be quite so clear-cut after
all. There are various moral interpretations of the situation
on the colony world. For example, though the suppression of
free speech and the destruction of literature are regrettable,
overactive imaginations are seen to damage the brain and cause
dangerous hallucinations, from which not even the Doctor's
companions are immune (an anti-drugs interpretation). Illicit
images on TV and in print are believed to corrupt the masses
(a pro-censorship, anti-pornography message). And it is claimed
that the worship of imaginary beings used to cause great strife
(an anti-religion stance).
a more frivolous note, the author uses one character's excitement
about the launch of a new fictional television series to symbolise
his own glee (and that of many fans) at the return of Doctor
Who itself to our screens. The same character, Domnic,
is similarly enthralled when the Doctor uses his opening line
from the memorable teaser trailer: "D'you wanna come with
the other two books in this batch of novels, which are evidently
set between The
Doctor Dances and Boom
Town, this one contains a reference back to
events in Boom Town, so it must take place between
that episode and Bad Wolf. This is slightly at odds
with Bad Wolf, in which the Doctor mentions having
visited only the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius and 14th-century
Japan during this gap. Perhaps the TARDIS made a wrong turn
on its way to Raxacoricofallapatorius. Tying in with a running
theme of the episodes that surround it, this book reminds
us that the Doctor usually tries to avoid getting involved
in any "mopping" up that might be required in the aftermath
of his adventures.
Stealers of Dreams may well be the final Ninth Doctor
novel (unless he enters the realm of the past Doctor books,
though that seems unlikely given that the BBC is keen to retain
a separate identity for its new series merchandise), so make
the most of it. Although my favourite of his six books is
still Only Human, this one is also very readable and
goes like a dream too.
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