Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Stealers of Dreams - Steve Lyons

Steve Lyons' The Stealers of Dreams features the Ninth Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack as played by Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper and John Barrowman respectively. It's set after the season 1 episode "Boom Town" and is my favourite of the Ninth Doctor New Adventures novels.

The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack are on another world, in the year 2775 where the chips are not quite the same and there are poster-like TV screens everywhere, but the Doctor says the technology is of the 27th century, or earlier and the city is growing upwards, instead of out, leaving 90% of the planet as jungle. The three of them take a room for the night, and are given a tablet to stop them dreaming. Rose flicks through the channels of the obligatory TV and finds only news programmes and documentaries. "All factual programmes. There's no escapism. No imagination. Nothing that tells a story."

The novel starts off in a fairly generic vein, with a situation that seems very familiar at first: a dystopian future where the population are mostly all mind-controlled drones, forbidden to think fictitious thoughts, whilst an underground resistance seeks to disrupt the status quo and free the imagination of the colonists. You might expect that the Doctor will join the resistance, free the prisoners, overthrow the government, and be back on board the TARDIS in five minutes flat, but thankfully the plot features a few twists: for example, there doesn't seem to be any central authority for the Doctor to overthrow, and it turns out that the colonists are restricting their fictional imaginations for a very good reason indeed.

I liked the way Lyons split up the TARDIS team, so that Rose goes off with a young "fiction geek" who draws comic books, whilst the Doctor tags along with Inspector Kimmi Waller as she searches out the "fiction geeks", and Captain Jack sets out to find Hal Gryden, the leader of the pro-fiction rebellion. There were some interesting touches in the story too, such as the dig at the current state of British TV (nothing but reality shows), the mention of secret fan groups that refuse to let fiction die (which will remind Brits, at least, of the "Doctor Who" fans after the 1989 cancellation of the TV show), and the idea of one god-like man who has the power to bring it all back (ie. Russell T Davies). Lyons explores his idea with such concepts as the "Game of Life" board game (get married and have kids before your dreams catch up with you), the Static TV channel which broadcasts illegal drama shows, and the disbanding of the government because they tell too many lies, promising things to people that they can never deliver!

The Stealers of Dreams is also available from

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