“Doctor Who: The Ring of Steel”
by Stephen Cole
Read by Arthur Darvill
Published by AudioGO Ltd. & BBC Audio (2010)
1 hour and 18 minutes
Okay, I admit it, I’m hooked. Hooked on Doctor Who. What I find amazing is the awesome choice of audiobooks available in the Doctor Who World. In the new generation of Doctor Who, which includes the 9th, 10th and 11th doctors, there are at least 50 audiobooks available. Then all sorts of books on the doctors from the “old generation,” so it looks like I may have some fun for a while. The television series is slated to start another season next fall, so until then I’m gonna listen to all the audiobooks I can lay my hands on. Some of the se audiobooks are full length books and some are specifically for audio only and are written in a one hour format, much like a single television episode. This latest one is one of those one hour audio recordings.
Normally I find it even more interesting when the book is read by one of the actors in the series. Usually when one of the actors reads the story it is based on happenings around their character. Of course when Matt Smith reads, since he portrays the Doctor, it’s perfect, but when one of the other actors reads it you can count on it being focused on them. Now maybe that’s just something I’m putting into it because of hearing their voice. So when I picked out this audiobook I saw it was read by Arthur Darvill, who plays Rory in the series, Amy Ponds boyfriend/husband in the series. But Rory never made a single appearance in this story so they fooled me. However his voicework is spot on and when voicing the Doctor, he nearly sounds like Matt Smith, which made the book nice to hear.
When the TARDIS lands on Orkney (or Orkney Islands, in Scotland) in the near future, the Doctor and Amy arrive to find a large demonstration in progress over the construction of new electricity pylons. The Doctor tries to break things up peacefully - but suddenly the road splits open without warning and swallows police, security guards and protestors alike.
Separated from the Doctor, Amy takes charge of transporting the wounded to hospital - but the rescue mission becomes a terrifying ride as the pylons come to life and begin to walk and the road rears up, erupting with boiling tarmac.
The Doctor, meanwhile, has even more than metal monsters and rebellious roads to deal with. Here is where it became really cool for me. Have you ever been driving along an interstate or even country roads and seen those large high tension electrical wire supports that look like giant metal robots? I’ve heard some say they look like Farmer John and his wife (different shapes for each sex). When I was a kid I used to be on long road trips and imagine they would come to life, and like Amy Pond in this story, I used to protect my family by shooting them down with my pretend laser gun (forefinger extended and thumb up). Well, in this book they do come to life and attack. So, who is bringing these things to life and sucking the life out of the power company's employees - and just what is lurking inside the Astra-Gen headquarters? That is for the Doctor and Amy to find out and through the help of the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver (the only weapon ever needed) to fix and save the earth, again.
There was one really interesting moment in this book that made me have to rewind and listen again. The Doctor says, “you're only young twelve times,” is this a reference to the number of times a Time Lord can regenerate? If so are we looking at a near-future end to the Doctor Who series? There is a movie supposed to be coming out and that usually marks the end of a television series. Oh…say it isn’t so.
If you are interested as to where this book falls into the timeline of the Doctor Who series, it occurs after tv episode, “Victory of the Daleks” and before the book, “The Runaway Train.”