The novel “The Silent Stars Go By” by Dan Abnett was published for the first time in 2011.
The Eleventh Doctor promised Amy, and Rory to take them home for Christmas but mistakenly takes the Tardis to another planet, where the travelers find a great cold and a lot of snow. The Doctor and Amy venture into the area while Rory returns to the Tardis to get a heavier coat to wear.
The Doctor and Amy come across some inhabitants of the planet, who welcome them with puzzlement. The Doctor tries to use his psychic paper, but when it’s read even by an illiterate inhabitant, the others think that it’s some kind of conjure. Once out of the Tardis, Rory searches for his travel companions, but spots menacing creatures and flees. He runs into human natives in search of a missing local woman, but before he can try to explain that he doesn’t know anything, the group is attacked by the creatures.
Generally, the novels connected to the TV show “Doctor Who” are published in book series that have specific graphics, size, and very similar lengths. In some cases, however, the BBC chose to publish novels that have different characteristics including an increased length that allows offering better-developed stories.
Dan Abnett has already written various works related to the “Doctor Who” saga, mainly in the form of comics. He has a lot of experience with science fiction in general, and perhaps for these reasons he wrote a novel in which he included various typical elements of the saga with a basic theme such as terraforming.
The Doctor and his companions arrived on a planet in a terraforming phase, but something seems to have gone wrong because the last winters have become colder and colder while the opposite is supposed to happen. As if that weren’t enough, there have been several livestock disappearances recently and one woman has just disappeared too.
The longer-than-average novel-length of this series allowed Dan Abnett to offer a complicated situation for the planetary colony. The humans encountered by the travelers are the descendants of the original settlers who started the terraforming project and have forgotten a lot of things about their origins. The settler instruction manual has become a sacred text interpreted by the colony leaders when they have to solve a new problem.
The Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory seemed to me to be well reproduced in their attitudes and relationships between them, and that makes “The Silent Stars Go By” enjoyable for the fans of this trio. Even if they’re the protagonists, in some ways this seems like an adventure linked to the classic “Doctor Who” series. The travelers spend the opening part of the novel trying to convince the locals that they’re friends, and the Doctor and Amy are even imprisoned. This trio of protagonists is used to running, but in a story like this, that’s reminiscent of the various similar occasions seen in the classic series.
The second part of “The Silent Stars Go By” becomes more complex with various twists and revelations of various secrets that go beyond the mystery of the problems in the planet terraforming that are discovered by the Doctor. The pace accelerates because a lot of things happen and the conversations are also used to carry the story forward. It’s this part that makes the novel really interesting.
By cutting some parts, it might have been possible to reduce “The Silent Stars Go By” to the standard length for the series of novels connected to the new “Doctor Who” series without losing important elements. Apart from this doubt, it seemed to me a pleasant novel that becomes intriguing in the second part. Dan Abnett makes good use of the Ice Warriors, who eventually become more than just a threat to the planet’s inhabitants. For these reasons, I particularly recommend reading it to fans of the Ice Warriors and the trio with the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory.