Dual Review ~ The Silent Stars Go By & The Dying Days

The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett

Cover via Goodreads

The winter festival is approaching for the hardy colony of Morphans, but no one is in the mood to celebrate. They’re trying to build a new life on a cold new world, but each year gets harder and harder. It’s almost as if some dark force is working against them. Then three mysterious travelers arrive out of the midwinter night, one of them claiming to be a doctor. Are they bringing the gift of salvation or doom? And what else might be lurking out there, about to wake up? (via Goodreads)

Publisher: BBC Books
Publication date: 2011
Genre: Speculative fiction
Why did I choose to read this book? Previous experience with Dan Abnett.

The Dying Days by Lance Parkin

Cover via Goodreads

The first, last and only New Adventure to feature the Eighth Doctor. Britain is under threat of invasion by the Ice Warriors from Mars. The only people who can save the country are the Doctor, the two Brigadiers and Professor Bernice Summerfield. (via Goodreads)

Publisher: Virgin Publishing
Publication date: 1997
Genre: Speculative fiction.
Why did I choose to read this book? Wanted to read some of the Eighth Doctor’s adventures.

Two adventures featuring Ice Warriors written fourteen years and three Doctors apart. The pairing was inadvertent. I’d been meaning to read Dan Abnett’s The Silent Stars Go By since it came out and I picked The Dying Days because it was one of Eight’s first stories post-movie. Despite the common “monster,” these are two very different books written in very different circumstances.

The Dying Days is one of the first novel-length Eighth Doctor adventures to be published, but the last of Virgin Publishing’s “New Adventures” to feature the Doctor. BBC Books picked up the Doctor Who franchise later in 1997, while Virgin’s New Adventures continued, but as companion adventures featuring Bernice Summerfield. As such, The Dying Days is more of a Benny launch book, and Lance Parkins was given a good deal of leeway concerning plot and characterization. There’s a sort of experimental feel to the novel. It’s trying on a new Doctor for size, but also isn’t very connected to the franchise since it is a “final” book. Set on Earth on 1997, this is a very human-centric story with an Ice Warrior invasion wrapped in political machinations. Benny is a great, independent character. I’m not too familiar with her since she hasn’t appeared in any televised series.

The Silent Stars Go By was published in a much different climate. In the last few years, Doctor Who has arguably been at the height of its popularity. The Eleventh Doctor had a whole series behind him and Dan Abnett does a great job characterizing Eleven, Amy, and Rory. It’s easy to hear Abnett’s dialogue coming from those character’s mouths. I also liked the difference between Amy and Rory’s use of metaphors. Amy’s are fanciful and Rory’s are very down-to-earth. It’s a nice touch. The story, still involving an Ice Warrior invasion, is set on another world, one being terraformed by settlers. The Morphans have been working on their world for twenty-seven generations and their culture has gradually shifted. I really enjoyed their slang and the religion that sprung up around their work.

My main problem with both novels involves some of the more fantastical rescues and escapes. The Silent Stars Go By has an inordinate number of “saved by clothing” situations. There is an improvised escape method in The Dying Day  that is so clownish and wince-worthy I had banished it from my memory and only remembered it when I checked my notes.

Variety is part of the reason that Doctor Who has been a successful franchise for so long. These two stories were very different in scope and feel, but were still, for the most part, enjoyably Doctor Who.

2014 Sci-Fi Experience

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5 thoughts on “Dual Review ~ The Silent Stars Go By & The Dying Days

  1. How fun that these books had such synchronicity, but that it was unplanned. I’m glad you enjoyed The Silent Stars Go By. It was my first experience with Abnett, and I was impressed. Also my first Doctor Who read. I gave the story a lot of leeway in regards to the escapes because that is what I expect from Doctor Who anyway. I’m sure I would have been less forgiving had it been a novel unrelated to a television series. Like you I could hear the characters’ voices as I was reading Abnett’s dialogue. He captured their personalities and dialogue patterns so well. I look forward to reading some of his Warhammer 40K books at some point, which would be well off from what I normally read.

      1. Indeed!

        And still, even with Doctor Who, I felt that Beautiful Chaos, by Gary Russell, didn’t have any stand out areas where I had to make allowances, so if you haven’t read that one I recommend it. I’m sure they were probably there, just not as obvious.

  2. I do want to read some Doctor Who stories, but I am afraid to make the leap since I have read some pretty dreadful Star Wars stories back in the day. Do you have any all-time favorites?

    1. I’m pretty new to reading them myself. The Silent Stars Go By was good, but I think I prefer Spore by Alex Scarrow. Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell comes highly recommended, so I’m probably going to try it next.

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