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Review: Doctor Who - The Silurian Gift (Quick Reads) / Author: Mike Tucker / Publisher: BBC Books / Release Date: Out Now

'An army of Myrkhas was waking!' A sentence guaranteed to send cold shivers up and down the spines of those long-time Doctor Who devotees who still have nightmares about the pantomime sea-dinosaur creature of the same name which appeared in a 1984 TV serial. Fortunately, these lumbering monstrosities work rather better on the printed page than they did on the small screen. Mike Tucker’s frisky entry in the Quick Reads series (designed to encourage reluctant readers to discover the magic of the written word) reunites the long-dormant sea-monsters with their masters the Silurians, a slumbering race of reptilians who ruled Earth before mankind came along and who occasionally wake up for a quick tussle with the Doctor before getting their heads down again and resuming their centuries of napping.

This rattling little yarn sends the eleventh Doctor to the Antarctic (having pulled some strings at UNIT) to investigate claims of the discovery of a new fuel source which will end the world’s energy crisis. With feisty activist and one-off companion Lizzie Davies in tow, the Doctor discovers that the industrialist responsible for the discovery of Fire-Ice has awoken a nest of Silurians hidden beneath the Atlantic permafrost and is blackmailing them into helping him disseminate this new energy source for his own financial gain. But the Silurians won’t be used quite to easily and before long there’s an army of Myrkhas waking and the Silurians’ warrior-like aquatic cousins are also soon back on the scene.

The Silurian Gift retells the one story it’s possible to tell about the Silurians – a group of them are woken up and they come into conflict with Mankind – but it tells it with plenty of frenetic running about. Tonally, it evokes both the Pertwee and Tom Baker eras of Doctor Who, but former BBC visual effects technician Tucker characterises Matt Smith’s Doctor quite well, even though the Time Lord is peripheral to much of the action. There’s room for a bit of we-must-protect-the-environment tub-thumping, and a big explosion at the end to round things off nicely. Simple enough for new readers but with plenty going on to entertain TV series fans, The Silurian Gift can be snaffled down in the time it takes to watch a TV episode and is a enjoyable exercise in marking time until the show resumes at Easter.

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