Doctor Who: City of Death
by James Goss (Douglas Adams contributor, from a story by David Fisher)
(Science-Fantasy, TV novelization)
I think I would have to give this book a 3.5 star rating. If in doubt, round it up because of Goss’ skill in the actual writing of the text. I imagine it could be difficult to make an interesting novelization of a TV show which has the pacing of classic Doctor Who episodes. (Old Who tends to be paced much slower than modern audiences expect. There’s a longer build, and episodes run as serials, with 4 or 5 episodes to one story. New Who is much faster, with each episode usually containing the entire story, even if the season does have a series arc as well. It seems to be hard for fans of New Who to go back and enjoy Old Who episodes because of the pacing difference.)
This is not my favorite Doctor Who episode. Not by a LONG shot. The Fourth Doctor (who is featured in this book) is My Doctor, as Whovians reckon things, but this episode has never been a highlight for me. It seems that The Doctor isn’t the star of this episode – and the star isn’t even his companion, Romana. (Yes, I realize she’s also a Time Lord. She’s still his companion.) The star of this episode is Paris. And that’s not what I enjoy most from Doctor Who episodes.
I have read (well, listened to) another of James Goss’ Doctor Who stories, but this is the only one which was a TV episode first. I liked the other one a lot more, because I was able to enjoy it for itself and not with the episode constantly running in my head as background to the story. (Granted, I also liked it because it was narrated by David Tenant.) This one was well written, but had the same issues that the TV episode did. I don’t read Doctor Who to read about Paris any more than I watch the show for that reason.
I did enjoy the additional background we see into the other characters, and the humor was lovely. My chief complaint is with the plot, and not the execution.
Rating: 4 stars