Monday, December 9, 2019

Deep Blue by: Mark Morris

It is clear from his second novel Mark Morris has a great love for the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who and what is often referred to as the UNIT Family.  Deep Blue is a Past Doctor Adventure taking place right in the middle of the Jon Pertwee era, not long after the events of The Green Death, and serves as a reflection on just what that group’s dynamic was.  Like David A. McIntee’s The Face of the Enemy, Deep Blue removes the Third Doctor from events allowing UNIT to function on their own.  Unlike that novel, this one does include a TARDIS team, but this time the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough, after the events of Warriors of the Deep.  The most effective aspect of Deep Blue is the Fifth Doctor, whom Morris characterizes excellently.  He is giving his companions a holiday after their recent dark experiences and immediately is embroiled in the mystery of a small seaside town where murders and UFO sightings have brought in UNIT.  There’s that sense of optimism of the situation which the Doctor just exudes, as he knows he is going to save the town and is faced with a ghost from his past.  Morris understates the reaction of the Doctor to Mike Yates, pre betrayal and redemption in Season 11, and reaffirms thoughts that he is overall a good man.  Morris also embodies this Doctor as the one who could save the world with a cricket ball and some string as a future Doctor once said.  He uses his intelligence to solve the alien invasion of this small seaside town, which is highly engaging, and like the Third Doctor, eventually relies on diplomacy and finding that other way, mirroring the failure to do so in Warriors of the Deep.

Tegan Jovanka is also a character in this novel whom Morris spends quite a bit of time exploring, as he builds on the idea that she is slowly becoming fed up with the death and destruction that follows the Doctor around.  She’s become almost untrusting of the Doctor as he insists they need a holiday, and takes much of the early portion of the novel to get some fresh air where she meets PC Andy Weathers.  Andy is a police officer who meets Tegan in a bar in an oddly mundane situation for Doctor Who and they immediately hit it off.  It’s not an overly flirtatious relationship, but Morris writes it as two people getting to know each other and just maybe realizing the potential for something more than friendship.  As this is Doctor Who, and a story set during Season 21, Andy does have red shirt plastered over him, and Morris deals with this better than he could have.  His death still furthers Tegan’s motivations and the interactions she has with Mike Yates, who kills Andy as he is taken over by the alien force in this novel.  Yates did this when backed into a corner, Andy had been transformed into a Xaranti and would have killed them both, infecting Tegan in the process.

The idea of alien infection is nothing new to Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom and The Ark in Space had characters transformed painfully into aliens, and Morris’ Xaranti are perhaps one of the novel’s weaker elements.  The Xaranti are highly derivative of the Wirrn from The Ark in Space, something that Morris lampshades near the end of the novel, and outside of being more like scorpions than the insectoid Wirrn, have little to distinguish them.  They have a queen and hive mind which controls them, they infect people who are slowly turned into them, and the infection begins subtly at first before cocooning them and having their new forms burst out.  The only differentiation between the Wirrn is the plot point that the Doctor can find a cure for the infection, making the last fifty or so pages feel like a retelling of the end of Doctor Who and the Silurians.  The slow burn of the pace makes this novel feel like it’s following a disease outbreak which tonally distinguishes it from The Ark in Space enough to recover some of the quality that the book is lacking.  Morris also allows several familiar characters including Tegan, the Brigadier, Sergeant Benton, and the Doctor to all be infected which is interesting enough.  Overall, Deep Blue suffers from being a highly derivative novel, taking from other Doctor Who stories which hold it back from being an all time classic novel.  As it stands, it is a good read and a decent way to spend some time if you’re a fan of the Fifth Doctor or the UNIT Family.  7/10.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Baptism of Fire by: Andrzej Sapkowski translated by: David French

There is something important to be said about writing dramatic fallout in one’s story after various events.  Building up to a tense moment and allowing everything to regroup and react is important, but in The Witcher Andrzej Sapkowski’s third book in the saga proper is dedicated almost entirely to the fallout from The Time of Contempt.  This makes Baptism of Fire an interesting novel as it doesn’t really have its own plot, but just deals with many of the dangling threads left by the destruction of the Chapter and Council and Vilgefortz’s machinations in the previous novel.  Geralt’s largest actions in this book are essentially searching for Ciri (eventually building a company and tagging along with another company) and getting himself knighted so his actual title would be Geralt of Rivia.  This is the first book where we get concrete confirmation that Geralt of Rivia was a title chosen by the witcher when he was young, one that was originally much longer and more pretentious, but shortened after Vesemir mentioned just how silly it sounded.  It’s this small little insight into Geralt’s youth which almost humanizes the rather inhuman character, showing that he initially had an almost smug sense of self-importance.

Baptism of Fire’s character development for Geralt is also interesting as Sapkowski once again reflects on what it means to be a monster and what it means to be evil in this universe.  Cahir aep Caellach is a somewhat minor supporting character who featured in the two previous novels where he was sent by the Nilfgaardian Empire to find Ciri, failed, was imprisoned, and given a second chance.  It is in this novel where he joins Geralt’s company and is spared a painful death due to Geralt’s mercy.  Cahir is a character whom Sapkowski attempts to give some sort of redemption, being forced to see the corruption of the Nilfgaardian Empire and reform his own ways.  The redemption begins here as he did have a large part in the destruction of Cintra and now almost wants to find Ciri in a way to repay his own debt.  It only took him being taken prisoner, tied, gagged, and carried around in a coffin for several days.  Yeah, this book somehow makes something as absurd as that sounds work incredibly well.  There is a large portion of the plot taken up in this village which believes that it is hunted by a vampire, yet as Geralt quickly deduces it is not.  The book is a travel book as Geralt is travelling with Milva (an archer from the previous novel who ended up following Geralt), Dandelion, and the company of dwarf Zoltan Chivay.  Chivay is this odd mixture of comic relief and dead seriousness which works incredibly well with Dandelion’s more permanent position as series comic relief.  His company also works as this ragtag band of humans and non-humans alike attempting to overcome the adversity of Nilfgaard’s invasion.

The most interesting character is Regis (full name Emiel Regis Rohellec Terzieff-Godefroy) who is a high vampire, one that does not need blood to survive and has sworn off consumption of blood.  He is characterized almost as a reformed addict, only becoming addicted due to social pressures of higher vampires believing themselves superior enough to partake in blood.  By every definition of the word, Regis should be considered a monster, yet throughout the book he is constantly showing a sense of nobility.  Regis rescues Geralt and Dandelion from their capture and tends to the wounds of the wounded characters.  Sapkowski uses him to expand on a theme which has often been explored in these types of stories, but adds to it by questioning if Regis can truly be redeemed.  He is not currently a monster, but he was one in the past and there is a question if he can ever truly make up for it.  The road to redemption could be under Regis’ feet, or he could be due for another relapse.  He and Geralt also interact at an interesting level, as Geralt attempts to make him flee (subtly promising that there wouldn’t be a contract for him that anyone could afford to pay).  Yet, he doesn’t stay away for long, coming back due to a sense of morality which binds him to this party.

Outside of this plotline, there is quite a bit happening in the background to build intrigue for future installments.  Ciri’s plotline, while not the most interesting, does further an idea of her losing her morality as she begins to taste killing, living up to the name of Falka given to her by the Rats.  She only appears a few times in the book, with more time spent on the false Ciri whom Emperor Emhyr var Emries planned to marry.  There are a lot of political machinations as var Emries attempts to find the real Ciri one final time as he demands an heir with the Elder Blood.  The political machinations increase with the surviving sorceresses including Yennifer and Triss Merigold setting themselves up as a new order, after the old order’s destruction in The Time of Contempt.  Overall, Baptism of Fire is very much a transitory novel, moving away from the status quo of the first two novels and towards what Sapkowski is attempting in the final two volumes.  Though transitory, it is an incredibly enjoyable through David French’s excellent translation and working as a moment for reflection on the series thus far.  9/10.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Empire of Glass by: Andy Lane - A Re-Review

In deciding to look back on some previous novels that I have already reviewed, I took a moment to reread some of my older reviews to see which ones I may not have been entirely happy with.  The Empire of Glass was one of those reviews which upon giving it a look, a reread went right to the top of my list.  The novel is Andy Lane’s fourth for Virgin Books and at the time what I believed to be his weakest, giving it a lower score than it deserved for rather weak reasons.  At the time I hadn’t experienced the TARDIS team of the First Doctor, Steven, and Vicki, and as such was really unable to analyze just what made Lane’s work great.  The Empire of Glass is a pseudo-historical concerning Irving Braxiatel inviting the Doctor to mediate a peace conference against several different alien races in a floating city above Venice in 1609.  Andy Lane writes this with about the same grasp on history as stories such as The Gunfighters, as historical figures such as Galileo Galilei, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare all appear in Venice at this point, even though Marlowe is supposed to be dead at this point, Shakespeare is supposed to be London and not finishing Macbeth (which was written years earlier).  Also of course, there wasn’t a giant floating city that appeared above Venice at the time.  This isn’t a criticism by any means, the absurdity of the novel helps set the tone for proceedings and just contributes to the fun nature of Lane’s work.

Much of the first half of the novel involves Braxiatel’s efforts to get the Doctor to the conference: he’s working with aliens who grab a random Cardinal of the Catholic Church come to Venice to try Galileo and just so happens to look like the Doctor.  The Cardinal rationalizes his abduction as being abducted by angels who take him to heaven, Lane making use of Biblical descriptions of angels to great effect.  The Doctor doesn’t realize Braxiatel is looking for him, as before this novel he took his place in The Three Doctors and had his memories of events erased by the Time Lords.  This allows for a comedy of errors while the Doctor and Vicki make friends with Galileo in the disguise of Cardinal Bellarmine while Steven is repeatedly accused of murder, and then is stabbed.  Also he gets drunk with Galileo which simply is a treat for readers, as it makes the character stumble over several words and phrases throughout which only adds to the absurd nature of the book.  That isn’t to say all of the first half of this book is absurdism, quite the contrary.  Lane devotes large portions of the book to delving into the relationship between the Doctor and Vicki.  Vicki describes the feelings she gets from the Doctor like the feelings she had for Sandy the Sand Beast in The Rescue.  She feels that he does love her, but as one would love a pet: an interest but could easily survive without them.  The Doctor also has to combat this idea and admit that Vicki was invited because she reminded the Doctor of Susan Foreman.

The second half of the novel gets ever so slightly convoluted with the introduction of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.  Marlowe, who is supposed to be dead (which is lampshaded), is set up as almost a spy for the British Empire while Shakespeare has come to Venice to investigate and find inspiration for future works.  He also ends up gaining knowledge of the future and taking it back to England, which leads to an infiltration of the staging of Macbeth.  The climax of the book is genuinely hilarious with Shakespeare in the role of Lady Macbeth performing the sleepwalking scene with interruptions from the Doctor and Vicki.  Of course, as Vicki is from the future and doesn’t know the play and the First Doctor has a tendency to fluff, hilarity ensues.  This is also a novel where the cool, calm, calculating, and conniving exterior of Irving Braxiatel breaks as the genuinely good scheme is ruined by those who work with him.  While he hadn’t been cast in the role at this point, Miles Richardson’s portrayal of Braxiatel fits perfectly here and if you’ve listened to anything with the character there’s a chance you’ll put his delivery into this book.  The epilogue with Braxiatel also adds some nice little connections to other books, showing that like Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor, this Time Lord has had his hand in several other stories.  Christopher Marlowe is also an interesting character here, as he immediately stands out to the reader and you can’t help be charmed.  It makes his eventual fate incredibly impactful as one of the really serious moments in the story.  Overall, The Empire of Glass is a novel which sparkles and could easily fit within the era with the types of historicals being done at the time.  9/10.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Time of Contempt by: Andrzej Sapkowski translated by: David French

The Time of Contempt is the shortest of the Witcher Saga for what seems to be the simple reason is the author Andrzej Sapkowski used this installment to build up where the series is going to eventually conclude.  The book ends with characters in various places around the world searching for one another and putting into place the politics of war as battles break out between forces.  Much like Blood of Elves, The Time of Contempt is most definitely the story of Ciri instead of Geralt, who doesn’t appear in the final third of the book and is sent into exile with a group of dryads about halfway through.  The same can be said of Yennefer who disappears once the council of sorcerers is attacked at the midpoint of the novel.  This isn’t an issue with the novel, as the rest of the characters make up for the main characters’ absence.  The most interesting portion of the book is when Geralt is in exile and Dandelion has to fill him, and by extension the audience, into the goings on of the wider world.  This segment of the novel reads incredibly like a scene in a stage play where Dandelion narrates while the flashbacks start to show what exactly happens.  Dandelion also serves as a nice source of comic relief as the entire book deals with the emerging war between Nilfgaard and the rest of the world, which somehow feels just as dangerous even though Sapkowski leaves much of the bloody battles in this book off-screen.

This is also the novel where Rience’s master, Vilgefortz, a sorcerer at the council, is revealed to be a major player in this war and working behind the scenes for his own benefit.  The entire sequence of the novel at the Council is where we get most of Geralt’s appearances in the book occur, and several other characters attempt to get Geralt on their side.  One point of Geralt’s core philosophy is that he only works for himself, despite the attitude he gives to others that Yennefer has him around her finger, and attempting to buy him and his allegiance is interesting to say the least.  These other characters try to get Geralt on their side and somehow he is unable to read between the lines to see that everything is going to come crumbling down.  This is extended to the audience as we are only privy to Geralt’s mind throughout these scenes and we cannot see it coming, which allows the slow disintegration of stability to hit incredibly hard.  Geralt also begins to patch up his relationship with Yennefer through these segments, as Ciri runs away from Yennefer to Geralt which brings them together.  The two characters have to face each other to see just what they wish to do with Ciri, which of course evolves into the beginning of rekindling sparks in the relationship.  Sapkowski also avoids writing an unnecessary love triangle, at least in this book, as the character of Triss Merigold appears and has shown an attraction to the Witcher in the past.  She’s oddly more of a background character here, only serving as a messenger to explain why Dandelion can find Geralt later in the book.

Sapkowski also gives Emperor of Nilfgaard Emyr van Emries as the breaking up of the council is his doing, and this is what starts the entire war.  Emries is also one of those interesting characters who is intent on marrying Ciri due to the fact that she is the Child of the Elder Blood, and Sapkowski allows this to give us some depth into just what the prophecy states.  The idea is that Ciri’s son will destroy this age and usher in a new age, something that everyone fears.  Emries wishes to marry Ciri just to confirm his place as Emperor, and goes so far as to finding an imposter to use as a bride.  Sapkowski makes the character utterly despicable throughout the book in his few segments.  The last third of the novel focuses exclusively on Ciri’s attempts to survive in desert and mountains where she comes upon a unicorn.  This section of the book shows just how much the character has grown into her own, finding a way to use magic to survive and falling into a group of bandits known as the Rats which work as a place of safety and give her a new name, Falka, which coincidentally refers to one of her ancestors also of the Elder Blood.  The biggest issue of the novel is here, however, as the book really doesn’t conclude, instead it just stops where it is.  Clearly, Sapkowski intended each installment in the saga to be just one part, but unlike Blood of Elves which ended on a definite note, The Time of Contempt leaves the reader with many dangling threads which works as a double-edged sword.  It entices the reader to return, but just leaves with slight notes of confusion.  8/10.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Demontage by: Justin Richards

When writing these reviews, I usually begin with an idea of where I am going.  I’ve always read the book, or listened to the audio, or seen the story, and got a general idea of what the final score is going to be.  This is one of those cases where I genuinely have little idea as to how this review is going to go.  Demontage is the twentieth Eighth Doctor Adventure published by BBC Books and the second to be written by Justin Richards.  The cover of the novel doesn’t actually relate to much of what happens in the novel, as the style of the day only allowed one centralized image to intrigue readers and Justin Richards wished to dispel rumors that the Eighth Doctor couldn’t appear on the cover.  The design looks like a stock photo from the TV Movie with a Snapchat filter applied to make it look like a painting because the work of an artist plays a major role in the story.  If I wasn’t attempting to review the entire Eighth Doctor Adventures range, very little would make me wish to pick up the book based on the quality of this cover.  The description on the back cover fares much better, describing the three plot threads of the Doctor and his companions as they get into shenanigans on the planet Vega dealing a murder mystery, an assassination plot, and various other investigations.

Justin Richards writes a novel with a description which promises three distinct plotlines set on this planet, yet with his writing style they all mesh into one mostly coherent story.  Richards’ style of writing is one that is incredibly easy to become invested in, bringing the readers into the story with the characters and letting them experience the world.  It makes the plot, which is a pretty standard Doctor Who story, stand out among the crowd at least a little bit.  Richards’ best ideas here are the stuff with the missing painting “Murdering Art”.  The painting is one which intentionally changes in a manner similar to the Weeping Angels in the New Series, shifting position and becoming closer.  Richards plays this off as if the painting is being replaced with several forgeries as Martinique is one of those dead artists who became incredibly popular in the event of their death.  To someone reading before Blink, that line of reasoning is incredibly credible, as this is Doctor Who, not some fantasy show where anything can happen so the third act twist works on a structural level.  There is also an anti-discrimination and a cultural integration storyline present in Demontage which isn’t handled nearly as well as the art storyline.  The Vega Station, the setting of this novel, is mostly home to the Battrulians while the Canvine (a race which isn’t quite described, but implied to be canine in nature) are allowed to live and are nearly equal, but there is this sense of separation between the two races.  Richards just fails to do anything interesting with the storyline and almost drops it half way through.

This is also the first novel where Fitz Kreiner is actually a companion and Richards makes him the highlight of the novel.  Vega is a station where a large portion is devoted to gambling and the Doctor and Fitz have made a bet as to how well they do at a week of gambling.  On the first night, Fitz loses all his money and spends the rest of the novel trying to avoid the fact that he lost while the Doctor remains clueless. Sam realizes just how much Fitz is all talk, but no real bluster which is hilarious, as the character means well.  Fitz also has to deal with the fact that as a man from the 1960s he kind of has a low key smoking addiction which he must overcome.  Richards is also incredibly fun at writing the Eighth Doctor, as Richards realizes just how much fun the Doctor has at gambling.  The Doctor has accrued enough money to buy up Vega Station if he ever were to cash in on his winnings, but as this is the Doctor: he wouldn’t attempt to gain money, just continue to gamble for fun and to win the bet.  Demontage overall is a novel with great ideas, some fun characters, and a plot that is at least interesting, but it can only be said that overall it is only slightly more interesting than its bland cover.  Much of it I enjoyed, much of it dragged, and some of it was hilarious, I think I’ve come to a decision for the score.   6/10.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Blood of Elves by: Andrzej Sapkowski translated by Danusia Stok

Shifting a series from short stories to feature length novels are not an easy feat due to the different styles of writing that must happen when writing these different types of prose.  Short stories can only facilitate a few characters and tell a whole story meant to be experienced in one sitting while novels facilitate a much longer page count.  The plot of a novel by its very nature must be more complex than that of a short story and almost always features more characters and plots.  Blood of Elves is the first full length novel of The Witcher series and shifts away from collecting short stories into a five-part story arc which runs deeply through each of the books.  When opening Blood of Elves, what the reader will immediately notice is that the story begins during the events of “Something More” from Sword of Destiny, yet not told from the perspective of Geralt of Rivia, but as a nightmare had by Ciri.  While Sapkowski seems to be using this as a recap, it isn’t as effective as it could have been made more effective if “Something More” was included as a prologue to this novel.  It is further compounded by the fact that Sword of Destiny was not published in the English speaking world until 2015.  Luckily any damage to the story because of this is made up for due to the fact that now all readers can read in order, but there is still a sense that something is missing from the beginning of this book.  It is also interesting to note that this book was translated by Danusia Stok and published in the English speaking world just after The Last Wish, so the style of translation throughout reading is slightly different with small portions of the book feeling like metaphors that only work in the original Polish.

Blood of Elves is also a book where the “main” character is not Geralt of Rivia, this story is not the story of the Witcher, but the story of Ciri.  Yes, Geralt heavily features in the book and is a major player, but after the halfway point his appearance and contribution to the plot is minimal.  The later half spends its time with Geralt setting up his own plotline for future events.  During the first half of the novel there is quite a bit of time spent developing the subtle caring relationship he has with Ciri.  At the beginning of the novel, Ciri is training with other Witchers at Kaer Morhen and while Geralt never takes it easy when it comes to Ciri, there are these subtle moments which show that he cares and that he is proud of her for coming this far and persevering.

The scenes at Kaer Morhen also introduce another enchantress character, Triss Merigold, who is a fierce woman unabashed at challenging the Witchers for what they plan to do for Ciri.  The Witcher’s elixers which allow them to become witchers have damaging effects on their bodies and it is Triss who stops them from using them on Ciri.  She becomes protective of allowing Ciri to grow into a woman, as the effects would be harsher for women than men.  Sapkowski uses Triss to give the reader good inclinations at the other Witchers of Geralt’s order including Vesemir and Lambert.  Vesemir was Geralt’s mentor and is several centuries old, but due to being a Witcher only looks middle aged.  Sapkowski characterizes him as incredibly intelligent, yet lacking some slight common sense as how to teach a young girl such as Ciri.  Lambert is the most antagonistic of the Witcher’s presence, hating the fact that she is impressed with Ciri’s skills and the one it takes the longest to be impressed by.

The second half of the novel deals with Ciri being sent to the temple of Melitele from The Last Wish and being trained by Yennefer to be a magician.  The dynamic between Ciri and Yennefer is one that almost forms to a mother/daughter bond.  It isn’t a typical bond as such, but the mentoring force of Yennefer shows that the sorceress grows to care for the child.  She is a character who has this influence and almost godlike calm when dealing with Ciri, who believes she doesn’t have the ability to use magic.  Yennefer spends much of the later half of the book giving Ciri a mix of encouragement and stern guidance to coax out Ciri’s best possible self.  There is also teaching of emotional maturity given to the young princess, as she is teased for remaining a virgin at the incredibly high age of 13.

Outside of Ciri’s plotline, the background of the novel is devoted to a brewing war between the Scoia’tael (Squirrel) elves and the kingdom of Nilfgaard.  There are forces working behind the scenes attempting to make the prophecies about Ciri come through including a wizard called Rience who serves a higher power, Vilgefortz of Roggeveen.  Vilgefortz is clearly being set up to be one of the big bad’s behind as he is shrouded in mystery.  Rience is immediately introduced as a threat as he lulls Dandelion into a false sense of security and proceeds to torture him for information on Geralt and Ciri.  This is Dandelion’s only appearance in this novel and he is saved by Yennefer before he can actually give up his friend’s location.  Sapkowski writes the scene excellently, showing just how strong the normally comic relief character actually is.  He holds out in the face of torture and Yennefer being an absolute badass, scarring the villain is also excellent.  There’s also a lot of this early book showing just how the tensions are building and how neither the elves nor the humans really have valid claims for war, but war is definitely coming and dwarven friends of Geralt seem to be caught in the middle.  Overall, Sapkowski does an excellent job setting the stage for the coming saga and putting plots into motion which will eventually be paid off in future books.  The book has a slow start, yet leaves the reader wanting more.  9/10.

Dreamers of Death by: Steve Moore with art by: Dave Gibbons

Dreamers of Death is written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.  It was released in Doctor Who Monthly issues 47-48 (December 1980-January 1981) and is reprinted in its original form in Doctor Who: Dragon’s Claw by Panini Books.

Writing out Sharon Davies as a character was a necessity for Steve Moore once switching over to the monthly release schedule as he couldn’t have too many characters in a story which only lasted between 8 and 16 pages.  Dreamers of Death is the comic strip which has been used to accomplish this.  It is one of those departures that Doctor Who is famous for doing when it must be done quickly as the story doesn’t build up to a departure, but springs it upon the reader in the last few panels of the story.  The setting of this story is Uniceptor IV, a utopia planet which the Doctor has visited before and due to Sharon being aged in Doctor Who and the Time Witch, she decides once the events are over that this would be a good place to settle down in.  While not the best exit for a companion, it at least has Sharon settling into a new society instead of the weird standard companion falls in love like Susan in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and Leela in The Invasion of Time.  The Doctor’s reaction to Sharon’s exit is also interesting, as Moore does a good thing in not attempting to make it some sad event.  The Doctor just says goodbye, they leave each other on good terms and suggest maybe they’ll see each other again in the future.

The story of Dreamers of Death plays quite a bit with a really nice and potentially ahead of its time science fiction ideas.  The planet Uniceptor IV, as stated above, is a utopia and for entertainment has turned away from television and turned towards shared dreaming.  Through virtual reality helmets, friends and family can share dreams together and tell different types of stories where they take part in the action.  This is an interesting projection as to where the future of video games were to go.  Remember that this was published in late 1980, three years before the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan, and five years before its release in the United States bringing home video games to the western world.  Having them a group experience with deep stories with completely different story potential to other forms of media is quite accurate.  It is also excellent to see a story about video games going wrong which is still optimistic.  The threat come from the psychic creatures used to link dreams together going haywire and eventually growing to kaiju levels in size.  The solution in this story does come out of nowhere but considering how short this comic actually is that isn’t really a problem.

Dave Gibbons continues as artist for the comic strip and as always his artwork is excellent, and his design for the forms of the creatures in this story shift from cute and cuddly to harsh and threatening while still recognizably being the same creature.  The style of thick linework is well suited for these types of adventures and he manages to elevate every strip read.  Overall, Dreamers of Death shows that the shorter format can still tell great slices of Doctor Who despite its limitations and if the rest of Moore’s run continues in this vain the magazine will reach great heights of quality.  9/10.