REVIEW: "Salvation" Doctor Who Novel 

by Zepo
09 October 1999

Lyons, Steve, _Doctor Who: Salvation_, (London: BBC Worldwide, 1999).

[Image of Book]

RATING: 9 (of 10)

     Just like belief in theological texts, the content of Doctor Who novels
can be hit or miss for any reader.  Steve Lyons truly puts forward an
outstanding effort that blends the two in his most recent Doctor Who novel.
     This novel is set immediately after the events seen on screen with
Dodo's introduction at the end of the televised story "The Massacre."  The
Doctor, Steven, and Dodo land in New York city immediately after Dodo joins
the crew.  The group becomes involved in a plot by the United States
Government to suppress information that two spacecraft have crashed on the
planet.  As it turns out the extra-terrestrial survivors of the crash,
endowed with telepathy, have decided to act as Gods and are prepared to help
the human race save itself.  When the Gods go public with their promise of
salvation, the First Doctor realizes that something is not right and decides
he must intervene.
     This book is beautifully written.  Not so much that it has flowery
prose but because Steve Lyons is able to truly capture the First Doctor Era.
When he writes dialog for the Doctor, one can hear William Hartnell speak
the words, and see his actions appear more realistically than even the best
reconstruction video.  The supporting characters he creates and also well
rounded, though not explored so in depth that we lose the feeling of how
they act because we know too much about them.  The supporting players are
characterized much like a well written Robert Holmes story, allowing the
reader to understand their motivations quickly and accurately.
     Some might believe that Lyons treads theologically dangerous ground
when he challenges people's ideas of faith in deities and gods.  However,
his honest approach to the variety of ideas in the minds of everyday persons
and their own concepts of omnipotent beings help bring the theology to a
serious and thoughtful sociological middle ground.  Lyons is able to show us
that a variety of people have a variety of different theological views.  The
book does not deal with theology directly but rather the idea that certain
people hold a certain level of faith in ideas that they are taught.  In the
middle of the chaos of aliens here to help mankind, thousands of people who
all want something different, and a military that does not trust anyone, the
Doctor steps forward to challenge all their belief systems.  Perhaps the
Doctor's empirical approach here, like on television, is what helps give the
program its intellectual and humanistic educational approach.
     I really wanted to, but I could not give this book a perfect rating.
My eternal hang up of continuity prevented me from doing so.  The story
actually begins with Dodo having a two day encounter with one of the aliens
before she runs to the Doctor's TARDIS, mistaking it for a real police box,
in "The Massacre."  Again, I simply cannot understand why Lyons felt it
necessary that it had to be Dodo that encounters the aliens before she meets
the Doctor.  To me, it doesn't fit with the televised continuity and gives
us another incident of a Doctor Who writer who feels that they should
somehow mutate the television series' existing continuity.  Had Lyons
avoided this one point, I may have lauded him as the best Doctor Who author
I have seen yet, but at this time I reserve my judgment until I have a go at
is next offering.
     Even with the fantastical idea that Dodo encountered an alien before
here appearance on the show, the book is outstanding.  A recommended read,
especially for those readers who approach theological concepts empirically.
I think the Doctor would approve.

(c) Copyright Zepo, 1999.

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