‘THE SILENT STARS GO BY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Ice Warriors with the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory
Before Matt Smith’s Doctor faced Ice Warriors on TV, he faced them in a ‘Doctor Who’ book!
‘The Silent Stars Go By’ is an adventure that was chosen to represent the Eleventh Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’ when it was reprinted in 2013 to celebrate the TV show’s 50th anniversary! I purchased the audiobook CD in November 2013 before purchasing the 2013 reprint in October 2014.
I think I’ve made it clear in my reviews over the years that the Eleventh Doctor era didn’t excite me when I was watching it on TV back then from 2010 to 2013. That’s not to say it was awful. I’ve grown to like the Eleventh Doctor era over the years especially since I enjoyed some of the TV episodes.
But there’s something about the Matt Smith era of ‘Doctor Who’ that was lacking and it didn’t compare to the excitement and epic feel of the David Tennant era. Some of that’s down to how the era was conceived under showrunner Steven Moffat in terms of writing and how it was all executed.
With that said, I’ve grown to like Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor and even like Amy Pond and Rory Williams as companions. I wish I was able to enjoy Matt Smith’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ and not be hampered by many things that felt wrong in my eyes especially in how I perceived the show overall.
But could the same be said of the tie-in media like books and audios featuring the Eleventh Doctor? Well, I hope not. I’ve certainly enjoyed ‘The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles’ by Big Finish and I love the ‘Doctor Who’/‘Star Trek’ crossover comic adventure called ‘Assimilation2‘ with Borg and Cybermen.
So I was looking forward to reading/listening to ‘The Silent Stars Go By’ by Dan Abnett and find out how the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory would be represented in book form, especially for the show’s 50th anniversary in its 2013 reprint. And after reading/listening to the book, I thoroughly enjoyed this!
The book was originally published in 2011 during Matt Smith’s second season as the Doctor (Series 6). This would’ve been during Part 2 of Series 6 when the book was published in September. The book is divided into 18 chapters with a prologue at the beginning setting up events and characters.
Dan Abnett is no stranger to ‘Doctor Who’. In fact, he’s written some audio stories for Big Finish with the Seventh Doctor including ‘The Harvest’ and ‘Nocturne’. I enjoyed those stories. He’s also instrumental in being the co-creator of the Guardians of the Galaxy superheroes for Marvel Comics.
It was interesting to read Dan’s take on the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory from watching the TV series. He also incorporates elements of the First and Second Doctor eras in his book. I discovered this when reading his introduction to the story in the 2013 reprint in terms of he’d first conceived it.
The story has a base under siege feel to it, especially where the Ice Warriors are concerned. It was exciting to read this adventure with the Ice Warriors in it and this was before an Ice Warrior returned to TV with Matt Smith’s Doctor in ‘Cold War’. It’s so ironic this Ice Warriors story came first.
The story has the Doctor, Amy and Rory visiting the colony world of Hereafter where the colonists called the Morphans are having their winter festival. But something deadly is happening as Ice Warriors start attacking the Morphans. Can our three heroes solve what’s happening on this world?
Incidentally, the title ‘The Silent Stars Go By’ comes from the Christmas carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. In fact, all the chapter titles have quotations from Christmas carols. There’s certainly a Christmas feel to the story with snow and the Doctor taking Amy and Rory back home for Christmas.
I’m sure ‘The Silent Stars Go By’ would make a classic Eleventh Doctor adventure had it been made for TV. The ambition and drive of this story feels tailor-made for TV in terms of its visuals and action-packed approach. I’m sure a full-cast audio adaptation by Big Finish would be welcome. I’d like that!
Speaking of audio, ‘The Silent Stars Go By’ audiobook is a 6 CD set when I purchased it from Amazon. The story is read by Michael Maloney, who I found a peculiar choice for this audiobook. That’s not to say, Michael Maloney is bad. On the contrary, I have heard Michael in some of the Big Finish audios.
Michael has guest starred in stories like ‘Zygon Hunt’ with Tom Baker; ‘Kiss of Death’ with Peter Davison and ‘Enemy Aliens’ with India Fisher. I’ve even seen Michael perform in the flesh in a ‘Monarch of the Glen’ episode from Series 7 and I did find him good in that. But still! An odd choice!
As far as I’m concerned, Michael hasn’t had much association with the Eleventh Doctor era beforehand, even on TV. But still, he has a pretty good Shakespearean-like voice for audio and he has won Best Actor/Best Supporting Actor awards to make him a good reader for this CD audiobook.
Despite that though, I don’t think he does a good voice for Matt Smith’s Doctor. He’s fine on Amy’s Scottish tones and I could believe Rory was there in the room when he did his lines. But Michael’s interpretation for the Eleventh Doctor does not match to how Matt Smith plays him in the TV series.
But who knows? Maybe Michael wasn’t trying to mimic Matt Smith when performing him in the audiobook. Maybe he was doing a straight-forward reading with some voices for characters and he wasn’t able to get Matt Smith’s Doctor pitched right. But honestly, it would’ve been quite easy to do.
Matt Smith’s Doctor had energy when he performed him on TV. Jenna Coleman was able to get that when she did ‘The Time Machine’ and Jacob Dudman definitely got it for ‘The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles’. David Warner didn’t get it for ‘Plague of the Cybermen’, but I still found it good anyway.
I think if you had an actor who worked with Matt Smith closely on the TV series or someone who just knew how Matt’s Doctor sounded and acted from watching him, he could get his voice and energy right when performing him in an audiobook. Michael Maloney didn’t quite have it, which is a shame.
But that didn’t stop me enjoying the story and how the world of Hereafter was created. Dan Abnett clearly took on the spirit of the Eleventh Doctor era writing this book, especially in naming people such as Bel and Harvesta Flurrish, Samewell Crook, Bill Groan, Winnowner Crooper and Jack Duggat.
I’m sure those names would’ve been dreamt up by Steven Moffat if he was writing this story. A lot of the names of places like Aside, Beside and Seeside fit well for the Eleventh Doctor era. ‘The Silent Stars Go By’ is a book that you need to read again to appreciate the names of the places a lot more.
I was disappointed that Rory got separated from the Doctor and Amy a lot here. I was hoping that this story would have our three heroes inseparable from each other and that they were going to battle Ice Warriors all the way through the heavy-snowy filled planet. At least, it’s how I would do it.
But at least Rory gets to cope well on his own when running away from an Ice Warrior, meeting Harvesta Flurrish and trying to convince a colony’s council that he’s on their side. Rory does get to be resourceful and proactive. He’s not an idiot like he seems to be on TV and he does have his own voice.
Amy also gets to have an enjoyable journey in this story. I liked it when she kept calling them Ice Men instead of Ice Warriors and I liked how fiercely determined she was not to abandon the Doctor when he was left behind with Ice Warriors. I do wish there was more between her and Rory though.
I enjoyed the scenes where the Doctor talks to the Ice Warriors, including the Ice Lord named Ixyldir. Michael Maloney does a good voice for Ice Lord Ixyldir as well as for Ice Warrior Ssord. In many ways, Michael matches to the voices the Ice Warriors had on TV as well for audio by Nicholas Briggs.
It was interesting to see the layers of character in the Ice Warriors featured in the story. They start off being one-dimensional baddies before becoming interesting with motivations of honour and code of conduct behind their warrior exterior. This is especially when concerning acquiring the colony world.
Yeah! The Ice Warriors were attempting to colonise Hereafter themselves but were too late when the Morphans came along. The Doctor does everything he can to negotiate with Ixyldir to prevent them killing the humans and even has the Martians help him out with defeating the other monsters.
In this story, our heroes and the Ice Warriors face some creature called Transhumans which have a predator style to them. I’m not sure I fully understand them, but they come across as wanting to slave the Morphans and colonise the Hereafter worlds before the Doctor interferes and stops them.
I enjoyed it when the Doctor and Amy interacted with Bel and Samewell when they were looking for Bel’s sister Harvesta before coming across the Ice Warriors. The holographic set-ups with characters were enjoyable and intriguing and it did get tense when the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver got faulty.
I know I’ve said this before, but ‘The Silent Stars Go By’ would make a great Big Finish audio adaptation to do it justice. I would like to hear Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill performing their lines as their characters and Nick Briggs doing the Ice Warriors voices would be fun.
I enjoyed ‘The Silent Stars Go By’ both as a book and an audiobook. Michael Maloney does a fairly good reading and whilst his voice for Matt Smith’s Doctor isn’t spot on, it still didn’t stop me enjoying the story, especially once the Doctor, Amy and Rory tackled Ice Warriors and Transhumans.
‘The Silent Stars Go By’ rating – 8/10
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