Book Reviews

Book Review: Doctor Who: The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons – Imagine A World Without Imagination

The newest incarnation of Doctor Who has been a hit both in Britain and the U.S. Newbies to the series take note, it’s been around longer than many of us have, having first aired on the BBC back in 1963. The ongoing character of the Doctor is a Time Lord from the Planet Gallifrey. He travels around through time and space in a TARDIS which is cleverly disguised as a British Police Booth. He also has the ability to regenerate, which accounts for the various actors who have portrayed him.

The Stealers of Dreams is based on characters from the 2005 season of the series. The characters featured are the Doctor as portrayed by Christopher Eccleston, Rose Tyler as portrayed by Billie Piper, and Captain Jack as portrayed by John Barrowman. Rose is a shopgirl from contemporary London who has hooked up with the Doctor for some amazing adventures. Captain Jack is a time traveler from Earth’s 51st century and a real rogue.

The three end up on a planet they can’t name where one massive city sits surrounded by jungle. It’s sometime in the future and the world is one of Earth’s colonies. However, something happened after the world was colonized. The people seem to have shut off any contact with the outside world and have ceased space travel. Not only that, but any and all fiction has been banned. Whoever made the laws looks as fiction as all lies. The metropolis features television screens just about everywhere, but all that is on are reality shows and the news with such mundane ramblings as how someone got stuck in a traffic jam and was late for work.

When the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack stumble into the world, they are shocked. People are arrested for any sort of fiction. They are sent to “The Big White House” if they are found to be dreaming, another serious offense on a world that sees danger in using one’s imagination.

However, an underground has sprung up. In the Ethernet and through other avenues of history some people have found hints of what used to be. They get together and write and read stories in secret. A rich man by the name of Hal Gryden has set up secret studios everywhere and is broadcasting “subversive” programming when he can cut in on the airwaves.

The three immediately want to spur the world into growing into what it has the potential to be. However, that is hard when they can’t quite get a grip on what’s going on. The three are separated and Rose begins experiencing a sort of psychosis, thinking zombies are after her. Captain Jack attempts to lure Hal Gryden to him by telling his tall tales in various pubs around the city, while the Doctor buddies up to local law enforcement in the hopes of getting a better grip on the situation.

Steve Lyons does a terrific job with The Stealers of Dreams. The characters really felt accurate to those from the television show and I could picture the actors and hear them using the dialogue he gives them here. The pace of the book is very good. He creates an air of suspense by letting through little clues about what’s going on while at the same time not giving away the secrets of the world. Having the three main characters separate frustrated me for a little while until I could see how he was covering various aspects of the story and drawing them back together perfectly near the end.

His original characters are good as well. Rose meets up with an underground comic book writer named Dominic, and I could just picture him in my head being some geeky kid thrilled to have a pretty girl to pal around with. I was pretty sure I knew the connection between the character Lyons starts the book off with and Inspector Waller, so that might be a bit too predictable on his part, but it’s a good connection that in the end makes a lot of sense. How he revealed Waller’s character little by little was good as she went from being a typical workaholic law enforcement officer to something much more.

For fans of the series, I think you’ll be quite happy with The Stealers of Dreams. It’s well-written and depicts the characters accurately. The puzzle is a neat one to solve and reveals itself slowly so that you won’t have all the pieces you need until you read through almost to the end. For people who haven’t seen the series or are only mildly aware of the characters, I think you’ll be lost a bit as the author doesn’t go into great depth introducing the characters. This is really for people who are fans of the show. I read it in two days and enjoyed it immensely.

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