Being a fan of the BBC series Doctor Who, I wondered whether I might enjoy some of the “expanded adventures” offered in the form of short novels. Given that it was Christmas and I was already mourning Matt Smith’s retirement as The Doctor, I decided to start with The Silent Stars Go By, which pits Smith’s Doctor (along with companions Amy and Rory) against a set of classic bad guys: the Ice Warriors.
Dan Abnett does a fine job of capturing the voices and mannerisms of the characters. Beyond that, well, this is pretty much what you’d expect: a by-the-numbers plot peppered with recurring quips, chase scenes, and recycled science fiction clichés (including the old “long-lost colony misinterpreting the original mission instructions as holy text” chestnut).
Because Abnett’s confined by the restrictions imposed on writers of these kinds of books, none of the characters closest to our hearts can grow, surprise us, or learn anything new. The result is a not-unpleasant but fairly mechanical series of events which, because they can have no long-term impact on the series, are entirely forgettable.
Verdict: Only die-hard fans desperately in need of reading material should bother.