Sting of the Zygons by Stephen Cole

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The Doctor and Martha arrive in the Lake District in 1902, to find big game hunters competing to kill a Skarasen.

The Zygons are back in this Tenth Doctor adventure. David Tennant apparently said they were the aliens he’s most like to have back during his tenure, but ultimately wouldn’t face them until Day of the Doctor. Fourth Doctor story Terror of the Zygons is so well-regarded, it’s amazing that the Sontarans and Macra made their twenty-first debut first.

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The Zygons are lovingly recreated here, and rather than retread ground, Cole presents the reader with a mystery. A dead Skarasen is found, and the Zygons seem to be desperate and on the back foot. But what could possibly be bigger and tougher than a Skarasen? A Drashig, possibly, but they are a bit thin on the ground in Cumbria.

The setting of the Lake District is ideal for this type of story. The UK’s largest national park, there’s plenty of space for Skarasen to hide and run amok in. There’s one particularly great scene where the Doctor is playing with the signalling device, only for a huge Skarasen head to rear out above the trees of a forest. Living, as I do, on the edge of the Lake District, it’s great to imagine the vast green vistas used for Doctor Who alien shenanigans. The locations used here are all fictional, Wolvenlath joining the ranks of Devil’s End and Leadworth in the pantheon of British Who locations that are a representative of familiar places. There’s also something about the organic nature of the Zygons and their technology that suits them being in the countryside, rather than in a city.

It’s rare to have aristocracy in Doctor Who these days, and it’s good to see Cole hasn’t lazily written Lord Haleston as an upper class twit. There’s a joy in the period manners and language, which the Doctor shares. The lack of modern communications and the superstitious nature of the locals adds texture to the story, and makes it all the more believable that big orange aliens are chasing people around the place without causing mass national panic.

Some seven years after the original publication there’s a extra dimension revealed retrospectively. There is an unseen character called Clara, who has also been operating in the area, leaving the tantalising possibility that it is one of the aspects of Clara Oswald flung thoroughout space and time in The Name of the Doctor.

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Order Sting of the Zygons from Amazon:

Doctor Who: Sting of the Zygons: The Monster Collection Edition

On Kindle:

Doctor Who: Sting of the Zygons: The Monster Collection Edition

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