Doctor Who: The Silver Turk
by Marc Platt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, I'm still loving the fact that a throwaway line in an early 8th Doctor audio play about the Doctor meeting Mary Shelley eventually led to a whole set of plays featuring Mary Shelley as a companion. And, of course, it's thoroughly appropriate that Mary Shelley's first proper adventure with the Doctor should involve her encountering a Cyberman.
This is an atypical Cyberman story, being set in 19th century Vienna, and featuring a pair of Cybermen from Mondas who have crashed on Earth and been badly damaged. Like the author's previous story, Spare Parts
, this story highlights the individuality of the Cybermen much more than most stories that feature them, bringing out hints of the human personalities still lurking beneath their cybernetically enhanced exteriors. In lots of ways, this makes them more horrific than when they're portrayed as a mass of identical emotionless near-robots. The story also does a great job of integrating the Cybermen into a story that very much has the feel of 19th century literature of the uncanny. It feels period, while incorporating futuristic elements.
Mary Shelley makes a great Doctor Who
companion - she's smart, courageous, and not afraid to take the initiative. Platt strikes a good balance in showing her adjusting to the concept of time travel and the strange things that she encounters without bogging down the story. The scene where she first speaks to a damaged Cyberman is pitch perfect - she sympathizes with and tries to help a creature that everyone else sees as a monster.
I have a few quibbles. I could do with a few less jokey references by the Doctor to Mary Shelley's future books - after a while, it not only feels in-jokey but rather careless on the Doctor's part. Admittedly, these stories are set before the 8th Doctor's most traumatic experiences with the Web of Time, but it still feels like he should be a bit more careful.
Still, if the remaining Mary Shelley stories live up to this one, I'll be very happy indeed. View all my reviews