The Beast of Babylon by Charlie Higson

The Doctor visits the planet Karkinos, where he meets and befriends Ali. Together they travel to Earth, ancient Babylon, to save the human race from an awesomely powerful Starman.

Charlie Higson sets his story in those few seconds (for Rose) between her turning the Doctor down and him coming back to tell her the TARDIS is a time machine, in the episode Rose. For the Doctor, a longer time has passed and it is explained here exactly why he went back to offer Rose another chance to travel in the TARDIS, when he didn’t for say, Grace, or the kids he met earlier in this eBook series in Tip of the Tongue.

It’s quite interesting how the author describes the Ninth Doctor’s grin. I always thought the grin the Eccleston adopted was his attempt to make the character eccentric, and falling woefully short. Higson focuses on it as a defining characteristic of this incarnation, describing it as:

“Not really a happy grin, though. Slightly crazy.”

“…trying to look polite and friendly, and failing badly.”

“One of his mad grins that was almost a snarl.”

“The maddest, wildest, strangest grin she’d yet seen.”

There’s something reassuringly fan-like in Mr. Higson participating in these kind of fan gap-filling exercises, especially in trying to suggest that, rather than being miscast, there was something deliberately fake about the way he grins; perhaps suggesting a level of performance from the lead actor that included consciously grinning unconvincingly to suggest a facade to reassure humans that he wasn’t a cold, dark unknowable alien. It all shows the writer is an old-school fan, especially when he categorically states the Doctor is not in love with Rose.

The Doctor’s companion, Ali, in this story is very interesting, and a neat narrative trick is pulled so that her true nature is revealed relatively late in the story. It both celebrates the Doctor’s universal outlook, and reinforces the 2005 series theme that only a select few have the right stuff to travel in the TARDIS.

This is one of the strongest entries so far from Puffin, with the residents of Babylon being well-drawn and featuring a traditional ancient-enemy-of-the-Time-Lords God-like menace. It also manages to be one of the few that feels authentic to it’s era of Doctor Who.

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Order The Beast of Babylon from Amazon:

Doctor Who: The Beast of Babylon: Ninth Doctor: 50th Anniversary

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