Mike Tucker has the honour of writing one of the first set of BBC Doctor Who books to accompany the arrival of Bill Potts (as played by Pearl Mackie) in the series as the new companion to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Written in advance of the series, it is still informed by Bill’s characterisation and fits comfortably into the TV series, just after “Thin Ice” (Episode 3 of the current series).
The setting is the planet Saturn where a mining vessel has the job of diving into the clouds of Saturn to collect diamonds as they fall like rain in vast electrical storms. The Doctor and Bill arrive in time to be accused of stealing from the vast hoard of valuable gemstones as a disaster happens to one of the mining crew. As the Doctor tries to rescue a missing miner, the plot expands to encompass new alien races and a piracy plot. Just when it all seems like Mike may have packed in too many threads, it all fits together nicely and in style is very much an adventure that could (with enough budget) readily have appeared on TV.
Mike’s writing is wonderfully visual as you might expect from someone who also worked on the show in the model unit. His descriptions of space craft read like notes to the production team, but it doesn’t stop there. Faced with a largely blank canvas, his Bill can’t explore angles the TV hasn’t, and while the character feels true to the version we have seen so far, it is in the Doctor’s character and that of a new character, Laura Palmer where the writing takes shape. Many of the minor characters (and one of the alien races) are less well-developed, but security officer Laura Palmer has backstory, emotion and some meaningful moments to give her a sense of reality. Had this been a complete spin-off it would be easy to imagine her stepping on board the TARDIS at the end of the book.
Overall, it’s a well-written, authentic story and if you want a book to accompany the new season, you could do much worse.
DIAMOND DOGS (DOCTOR WHO) / AUTHOR: MIKE TUCKER / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW