BBC 8th Doctor Book
Doctor Who has generally been about the small stories--individual acts of heroism and courage which make life better for the majority. Only occasionally does the Doctor have to make one of those impossible decisions where he must sacrifice the lives of the few in order to save the lives of many.
One of the problems with Beltempest is the immense loss of life which is simply glossed over. The Doctor and other characters are simply onlookers as entire planets are torn apart and space craft wrecked, their inhabitants and occupants dying instantly. This story must have the highest death-count in a Doctor Who novel and yet it all seems so cold and unemotional. There are other problems as well: the Doctor seems at odds with previous characterisations and often does not appear to be the 8th Doctor at all. Sam also undergoes some strange developments, even becoming immortal at one point.
The plot is another interplanetary adventure involving suns not behaving quite how they should, and this more overtly science-fiction approach may be part of the problem. If the Doctor is going to get involved in this sort of adventure then the lives of millions of humanoids do become insignificant compared to the events unfolding around them. Do construction workers worry about the lives of ants as they cover their nests with concrete in order to build? Are humans concerned about the death of microscopic bacteria every time they clean the kitchen? This is the dilemma here. Jim Mortimore has painted his canvas too large, and any human interest has been shunted to one side in favour of the incredible science fiction concepts he is describing.
Beltempest could just as easily have been a story told through the eyes of Captain Kirk/Picard/Janeway and crews, or something encountered by the assorted folks on Babylon 5. It lacks that hard-to-define Doctor Who-ness. --David J Howe
A novel featuring the eighth Doctor Who. The Doctor and Sam arrive on Bellania IV to find 20,000 people under threat as a catastrophe threatens: immense gravitational and dimensional disturbances are rioting through their sector of space.
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