A review blog

The Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) in The Star Beast (Image courtesy BBC / Disney+)

“The Star Beast” is the first 2023 special episode in the TV show “Doctor Who” that celebrates its 60th anniversary. It’s available in the UK and Ireland on BBC channels and in many other countries on the Disney+ platform.

The Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) is trying to understand why the regeneration reprised an old face when he arrives in London and the first person he runs into is Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), accompanied by her daughter Rose (Yasmin Finney). He doesn’t even have time to reflect on what seems like a really strange coincidence that a spaceship crashes into the Earth’s atmosphere carrying the very cute Meep, hunted by the horrid insectoid Wrarth Warriors.

Stargazer: Judgment Day by Ivan Ertlov

The novel “Stargazer: Judgment Day” (“Stargazer: Weltenrichter”) by Ivan Ertlov was published for the first time in 2022 and translated from German by Marly Gram. It’s the fourth book in the After Terra series and follows “Stargazer: Civil War”.

In the Council that rules the Protectorate, there’s confusion when the Plachtharr Alliance withdraws its fleets from the borders. This turns into panic when the Plachtharr Ambassador formally requests military support. The reason is the approach of a cosmic entity capable of devouring everything it finds, an entity part of the nightmares of all sentient species, even when they have never actually seen it. Humans know it as Yog-Sothoth.

When old enmities are put aside and even pirate fleets arrive to join the final battle, the situation seems desperate. However, hope comes from the ancient technologies that produced the starship Yrsha restoring its weapons to their full power. Frank Gazer and his crew are ready to join the fight with the knowledge that this time the enemy is the most dangerous entity they have ever faced.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

The novel “Six Wakes” by Mur Lafferty was published for the first time in 2017.

When Maria Arena wakes up, she remembers the beginning of the journey of the starship Dormire but something went wrong because she discovers her previous clone, who shows visible signs of being much older than when the journey began and was killed. The other crew members turn out to be in the same situation except the captain, whose previous body is in a coma but still alive.

A check-up of the onboard systems shows that the IAN artificial intelligence is not working. The cloning systems have been sabotaged, meaning that records of the crew members’ memories are unavailable and it’s impossible to create new clones. There’s a saboteur on board but everything suggests that he must be a member of the crew, an easy conclusion to reach also because they’re all criminals.

The Machine's Child by Kage Baker

The novel “The Machine’s Child” by Kage Baker was published for the first time in 2006. It’s part of the cycle of the Company.

Alec Checkerfield is determined to free Mendoza from the prison she was locked in by Dr. Zeus Incorporated when she became an inconvenient operative. His clones Nicholas Harpole and Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, whose personalities were incorporated into Alec’s cyborg body, agree but the three of them are as different as possible and this makes it difficult to agree on everything else.

Joseph is watching over the regeneration of Budu, who is like a father to him, after literally recovering his pieces. It’s a long and complex process, which leaves him a lot of time for other tasks. Joseph also wants to save Mendoza, who is like a daughter to him, but he also wants to save her from Alec.

Eden by Stanislaw Lem

The novel “Eden” (“Eden”) by Stanislaw Lem was published for the first time in 1959. It was translated to English by Marc E. Heine.

Due to an error, a spaceship ends up in the atmosphere of a planet and crashes on its surface. The on-board robots are rendered useless by the consequences of the impact but the six human crew members are in good shape and the atmosphere is breathable. There remains the problem of repairing the spaceship, which sunk into the ground.

The crew searches for sentient natives and finds what appears to be an automated factory but none of the humans can figure out what the objects being produced are for. When they return to the spaceship, they find that a native has entered it. This and subsequent contacts only serve to increase their confusion regarding the planet’s civilization.