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September Books 11) Alien Bodies

11) Alien Bodies, by Lawrence Miles

I am working through the 8th Doctor books not in order of internal continuity, but in order of popularity on LibraryThing (in the hope that I will thus discover some neglected gems towards the end). I'm afraid I didn't get a lot out of Alien Bodies. I liked the vignette of the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith burying Laika at the very beginning; and I applaud Miles for bringing back and making effective the Krotons, of all unlikely Old Who baddies, half way through.

But as so often, I stumbled on the means and motivation of the villains - in this case the Celestis, with quasi-magical powers including over the afterlife, squabbling with an unlikely assortment of bidders over the Doctor's corpse (from way ahead in his own timeline). I understand that this book is the basis for Miles' own run of spinoff Faction Paradox, so I understand why he was trying to do this, but didn't quite get what he was trying to do.

Sam Jones is the initial companion in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, and this is the third novel I've read featuring her. Miles strives to inject her with some extra background and cosmic significance, rather as the Old Who writers did with Ace in the last season in 1989 (the parallel is made explicit). This looked at one point like it was going somewhere interesting, but wasn't really resolved; I hope it will be in one of the other novels.

In summary, doesn't really seem like essential reading to me, but maybe its significance will become more obvious as I work through the series.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
It's significance would probably be more apparent if you had been reading in chronological order. "Alien Bodies" is pretty much a relaunch of the Eighth Doctor range, and has a level of fun and surprise that was a breath of fresh air compared to the moribund plodding that had preceded it. A good deal of later continuity springs from here, although whether it's always well-used is another matter.

The reason why Alien Bodies is so highly rated by fans is basically that Lawrence Miles was the best writer in the BBC books range, and Alien Bodies is his easiest and most accessible book. At the time, it was just the kind of lively, quirky and entertaining potboiler that the book range needed. Some sections of fandom fell out of love with Miles as he bacame more ambitious, but this book seemed to hit a sweet spot of mass appeal.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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