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Sting of the Zygons by Stephen Cole
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*Spoiler alert - if you've not read this book and you want to, there are some spoilers in the following review.*

This is another Doctor Who novelisation, featuring the Doctor in his tenth incarnation and with Martha as his companion. I wasn't too sure about this book initially, it didn't seem like it was going to be too great, although it did have a bonus in that it featured a new baddie. At least, the Zygons were new to me but the inference in the book is that the Doctor has met up with them before. I presume that's a reference either to a classic episode or even an earlier book as the acknowledgements mentions the book, Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster (DWL040). I've not yet read that book so I don't know if that features the Zygons or not, but I presume that some of that plot links in with the plot of this book. It's nice when that happens, when writers take the time to link up some of the novels, as long as those of us who haven't read the earlier novels yet don't miss out on anything!

It was quite an interesting read, although I don't think it was one of the best Doctor Who novels. There was an incredible amount of secondary characters, and I kept getting mixed up with who was who, or even who wasn't who. The Doctor's characterisation seemed to be kind of flat, it wasn't as good as I've seen him written in other books, although Martha wasn't done too badly. None of the secondary characters seemed to be anything much, I think a lot of that was that there was just too many of them for one to stand out or for the author to put more into. I've made a comment before about how the secondary characters in Stephen Cole's books have been very bland and two-dimensional, and that he's had trouble writing the character of the Doctor - certainly more with Ten than with Nine.

Although there seemed to be several different things all going on at the beginning, I liked the way they were all slowly brought together as the plot progressed so that it became clear how they were all linked and part of the same actual incident, as it were. There were a couple of aspects that I thought were not as good and which made the book a little disappointing. The first was how it seemed that everyone and his dog was being copied by the Zygons. This was good in that there was the element of surprise which could produce a couple of twists, but on the other hand, it also seemed to be taken to extremes and got slightly ridiculous. The second thing was that it didn't seem to be completely finished. Although The Doctor told the Zygons to leave, when their ship is seen in the sky, he says they're going 'Somewhere nice and remote. North Pole? Or the South Pole. Somewhere polar, anyway.' Which would mean they're still on the Earth and that's not exactly leaving. He was also happy enough to leave a huge big alien monster there on Earth too, because the lake it was in had a channel leading to the Irish Sea and therefore it was free. None of that seems to make sense. It's not solving the issue, it's just postponing it. If both sets of aliens are still on Earth as it seems, then the whole thing could happen again.

Not one of the better Doctor Who novels that I've read, but I don't think it's among the worst. I don't seem to be able to get on with Stephen Cole's books though, which is worth noting for the future. ( )
  Ganimede | Sep 10, 2009 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/968225.html

Like most Who fans of roughly my age, I have fond memories of both the early Fourth Doctor story Terror of the Zygons (I remember discussing it years later with an Australian friend, who shrieked with excited nostalgia, 'Yeah, the Zygons! They were two-cushion monsters!') and also the novelisation, Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster, which may have been one of Terrance Dicks' better products. I must re-watch/re-read respectively and see what I think now.

I tried several of the BBC Ninth Doctor novels last year and wasn't overwhelmed, though the best was also by Cole. Sting of the Zygons is good. Cole has picked up and further developed the concept of the shape-shifting aliens (interesting that his other novel featured the shape-shifting Slitheen) and introduces a certain depth of motivation to them which makes their struggle with the Doctor all the more credible. He catches Martha particularly well; as for the Doctor, there are moments when I think we are reading David Tennant doing an impression of Tom Baker, but mostly it works. The setting is the English Lake District in the Edwardian era, and again mostly works, though Lord Haleston is not a duke and therefore would not be addressed as 'your grace', and generally it suffers a bit by comparison with this year's broadcast story Human Nature/The Family of Blood, which is set only a few years later. However, such technical details aside, the descriptive writing is compelling.

Anyway, I shall give the other Tenth Doctor novels a try, and will certainly look out for anything else by Stephen Cole. ( )
  nwhyte | Jun 26, 2009 |
For the past three seasons, it seems that every year we get a rumor the Zygons will make an appearance in the upcoming season.

And why not? We've had the Macra and we've overused the Cybermen and the Daleks? Why not bring back the Zygons?

The alien race returns in this 10th Doctor novel that is, for the most part, an update of the classic story "Terror of the Zygons." The Zygons are trying to figure out how to regain control of the Skarasan and need the Doctor'...more For the past three seasons, it seems that every year we get a rumor the Zygons will make an appearance in the upcoming season.

And why not? We've had the Macra and we've overused the Cybermen and the Daleks? Why not bring back the Zygons?

The alien race returns in this 10th Doctor novel that is, for the most part, an update of the classic story "Terror of the Zygons." The Zygons are trying to figure out how to regain control of the Skarasan and need the Doctor's help to do so. And there are lots of people who are Zygons in disguise.

It's not a terribly complex story and as I said before, it's highly derivative of the original "Terror of the Zygons." There are one or two nice surprises in the story but in the end I was left feeling like I wanted to go back and re-watch the classic four-part story again.... ( )
  bigorangemichael | Apr 23, 2009 |
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The beast appeared with a shrieking roar.
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The TARDIS lands the Doctor and Martha in the Lake District in 1909, where a small village is being terrorised by a giant, scaly monster. The search is on for the elusive 'Beast of Cumbria' and explorers, naturalists and hunters from across the country are descending on the hills.… (more)

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