#9 “The Silent Stars Go By” by Dan Abnett


1.  Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
2. Holiday in Cambodia – Laura Jean McKay
3. Only Human – Gareth Roberts
4. Beautiful Chaos – Gary Russell
5. The Silent Stars – Dan Abnett
6. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
7. Every Breath – Ellie Marney
8. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
9. Delirium – Lauren Oliver
10. Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver
11. Requiem – Lauren Oliver
12. Venom – Fiona Paul
13. Belladonna – Fiona Paul
14. A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki

I love technology. My phone knocks, I swipe the screen, open my emails, and see that The Collective, haven for every kind of fan from every kind of fandom, has posted the most important video made so far this year:

The second trailer for the 50th anniversary. Don’t get me wrong, first trailer was all kinds of exciting; catching glimpses of all the old Doctors doing their thing with awesome voiceovers from different points during Doctor Who‘s existence.
I will be the first to admit that I am second generation Whovian. Eccleston was my first Doctor. And because my first episode of Doctor Who was filmed in the early 2000’s, I am scared to go back and watch the older episodes. I am a CGI child. I don’t know how I’ll go watching episodes from decades and decades ago. It’s like watching Grease and the blades come out of the side of Craterface’s car (you know – the dickhead leader of the Scorpions) and put a humungous jagged hole in Greased Lightening’s door. We all know that those “blades” were cardboard and the “door” was paper. And as much as I love Grease, every time I see that bit, I giggle a little to myself.
I don’t think I could let that happen to the Daleks or the Cybermen or even to the TARDIS. One day I’ll be brave enough to go back in time. I really want to acquaint myself with Tom Baker and Peter Davison, specifically.

What’s the point of being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes?

One of my all-time favourite quotes from anything, book or audio visual, and Tom Baker’s Doctor said it. And then there’s Peter Davison in his cricket uniform with the celery pinned to his lapel. I only just got a taste of Five in the 2007 Children in Need special “Time Crash”. I always loved that bit at the end where Ten explains why Five looks older when the two TARDISes (TARDI?) collide. That’s just brilliant script writing:

Mind you…bit saggier than it ought to be. Hair’s a bit greyer. That’s ’cause of me though. Two of us together shorted out the time differential. Should all snap back in place when we get you home.

Well, I will end this tangent with a question: if a Classic Whovian could recommend an episode with which to start my Classic Who journey, that would be fantastic. Brilliant, even.

So, the second trailer. While we get close-ups of the past incarnations of our beloved Time Lord, we get Eleven actually doing things and saying things directly to us. Who didn’t get a chill when they heard:

Now the time has come to face the choices I made in the name of the Doctor. Our future depends on one single moment on one impossible day. The day I’ve been running from all my life.

The Day of the Doctor.

I am so excited. Even more so now that I know we Australian Whovians actually do get the chance to see the 50th in 3D as it was intended. I will be there with bells on. And hopefully a bow tie, leather jacket, and some red Converses. Fortunately, this trailer was released just as I finished my last book. So there I was, wanting my Doctor fix and with the opportunity to scratch another book off my program. Brilliant.

I not only got to run around with Eleven on an “Earth-esque” planet, but I also got to see the Ponds again. The Ponds had the most heartbreaking finale that I have seen since Donna’s time. (Yes, yes I know they were more-or-less straight after Donna, but come on. They all got out of that creepy-assed building only to have Rory swallowed up by a smiling Angel? And in front of his newly-rediscovered daughter? Shame on you, Moffat, shame on you.) So it was absolutely wonderful to have the Ponds back in my life. Even if it was only for 300 pages.

Both Gareth Roberts and Gary Russell wrote excellent stories for Nine and Ten. But the whole way through these novels I could tell that they were both script writers first. There is nothing wrong with that. At all. Throughout the Millenium trilogy it was clear that Stieg Larsson was a journalist. But that didn’t stop me following the exploits of Lisbeth and Mikaelwith baited breath. But at the same time it was lovely to see an author take a stab at writing a Doctor Who story. And let me tell you, Abnett nailed it. I could hear Amy’s sass and Rory’s caution and the Doctor’s fearlessness. I could hear the affection in Amy’s voice as she called everyone stupid and see Rory’s face as he worried about Amy. And then there was the scene where the Doctor was trapped in a chair by a huge Ice Warrior broadsword and he tried to cross his legs in order to fake nonchalance and has to settle for pretending he had an itch or something. The characters were so clearly captured I could see the whole story unfold in my head like I was watching it on ABC.

Then there was the whole play-on-words thing happening all the way through the novel. A motif. The “Morphans” – the inhabitants of the planet the Doctor was saving this time – worshipped “Guide” *coughGodcough* and lived in places called “Would Be”, “Beside”, “Seeside”, “Aside”. There were sisters named Arabel and Harvesta Flurrish. And they all came from “plantnations”. We didn’t get the point shoved down our throats. Abnett just let the words play around in the backs of his readers’ minds until it all clicks when we read “The Guide Emanual”. But these words s also push the theme of truth changing as facts are lost through the ages. [SPOILER] I mean, an e-manual becoming the Bible? That is brilliant and says so many things about our society and the emphasis we place on technology.

And then there were the chapter titles. They were all thematically linked. Kind of like the quotes at the beginning of the chapters in Cassandra Clare’s books. A little bit of foreshadowing with a dash of theme, and just a hint of setting and mood. These are the types of writerly things that make me look like:


The thing about script writers is that they know how to tell a fast-paced, punchy story that grabs readers. But because they don’t get to use too many literary nuances in their primary medium, these delicious tiny flourishes are absent. And these are the things that turn a good story into a great one. I will be going out and finding some more of Abnett’s work because he is a fabulous writer. I might even go out and find something that isn’t related to Doctor Who! Oh, the scandal. But he is just that good.

So I give “The Silent Stars Go By”:




About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
This entry was posted in Extorting Bibliophilia, My Fangirl Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to #9 “The Silent Stars Go By” by Dan Abnett

  1. Pingback: “Touched by an Angel” by Jonathan Morris | My Infernal Imagination

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