by Stephen Baxter
Plot Summary:She had no name. She had only her mission - she would return Home. And bathe in the light of a long-dead sun... Even if it meant the sacrifice of this pointless little moon to do it.
The Wheel of Ice: a ring of ice and steel turning around a moon of Saturn, home to a colony mining minerals for a resource-hungry future Earth. A bad place to grow up.
The Wheel has been plagued by problems. Maybe it's just gremlins, just bad luck. But what's the truth of the children's stories of 'Blue Dolls' glimpsed aboard the gigantic facility? And why won't the children go down the warren-like mines? And then sixteen-year-old Phee Laws, surfing Saturn's rings, saves an enigmatic blue box from destruction.
Aboard the Wheel, The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe find a critical situation - and three strangers who have just turned up out of nowhere look like prime candidates to be accused of sabotage ... The Doctor finds himself caught up in a mystery that goes right back to the creation of the solar system. But it's a mystery that could have dire repercussions for the people on the Wheel. It's a mystery that could kill them all.
Review:This novel presents a highly sophisticated and intelligent Doctor Who adventure. The author does a wonderful job of making a colony built around a moon of Saturn believable because there are so many little details in how and why such a colony can exist. And with those details, the author drives home the awe and danger of traveling in space which I relished. I think it added a very complex dimension to the wonder of what the Doctor is capable of in his TARDIS, and the very tenuous hold humanity has on controlling their environment in this story made the danger they are in very immediate.
When it came to the characterizations of the Doctor and his companions, I think the author did a great job - his characterization of Jamie was especially fun and brought out all that is likable and irascible in him. Zoe was also well rounded - she had fears that she tried to hide and which made her more sympathetic. The author brought in her past as well which gave her more depth of character. I did not feel very attached to any of the other characters though - the mayor and her kids and the council. For some reason I didn't connect with them and that brings me to some odd feelings about this book. Because while I really admire the way the author crafted this story, I didn't feel very involved with the characters. I felt like it was lacking somehow in heart, as if there was so much technical skill in the writing and in the details, that the human connection was left out. It's hard to describe, and I'm probably in a minority to feel this way because this is a really good story. I just would not call it a page-turner - I was not driven to find out what happens in the end because I didn't really feel invested in the fate of this colony.
And the ending was a bit predicable I have to say. The bad guy was not very convincing, and I didn't see why the bad guy who was clearly unfit for the job, was allowed to continue with it. But with such an intelligent, and thought-provoking look at the potential humans have at conquering their solar system, I thought this was a very enlightening story and I think Doctor Who fans should check it out.