In the course of Wii workouts and solo shopping trips I have got through several audio books (and will do more before I am finished). None of these particularly special, the best probably being Mark Michalowski’s Shining Darkness.
An audiobook original, read effectively by Catherine Tate. Standard stuff – earth threatened by ‘orrible aliens, Donna gets a brief romance, base under siege; what drags it down, unfortunately, is that the base under siege is Dover immediately before Dunkirk, and my suspicion of disbelief is rather shattered by the idea that an alien assault and massive loss of personnel would not disrupt the intricate planning of such a key operation. If you do a historical story for laughs, make sure it is funny; if you do it didactically, as is the point here, you need more verisimilitude than this.
Another audio original, read well by Michelle Ryan, with a very similar plot concept to The Nemonite Invasion – ‘orrible alien incursions in historick England, in this case 18th-century Yorkshire. The Doctor, post-Donna, pitches up in a village covered by darkness where the people are turning into zombies. The problem I had was that the villagers seemed rather unconvincing – the Lady Christina-equivalent able to browbeat them despite being in her early twenties and not obviously a toff (apart from accent). I was also rather unconvinced by the ending which felt like the author was trying to imitate RTD rather than finding his own voice.
An abbreviated audio adaptation of Michalowski’s Ten/Donna novel, read convincingly by Debbie Chazen. The only one of these four not set on Earth. A complex but fun romp of robots, art theft and space stations, and even though I usually hate cute anthropomorphic robots (and one of these is really annoyingly cute) I was prepared to cut a little slack, and enjoyed it.
For variety I read this one in dead tree form. The Doctor and Rose land in 22nd-century Chad where they find themselves caught up in the climax of a long-running alien war. The alien bits were rather good: I wasn’t so convinced that Cole was on top of the human material, and his Chad could almost as easily have been Belgium, apart from a couple of mentions of the temperature. Perhaps I am too demanding in wanting plenty of background detail and having it accurate too, but this is the first time I have not really been satisfied with a Stephen Cole novel.
I had problems with the three books set on Earth because of various aspects of the setting, which somewhat reinforces my feeling that the RTD policy of attaching the series relatively firmly to Earth hasn’t really been a strength. Perhaps things will change under the new regime.