Review : Doctor Who : ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’

From the beginning of the first new season I have always loved the episodes written by Steven Moffat, from ‘The Empty Child’/’The Doctor Dances’ over ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ and the brilliant ‘Blink’ to this double episode. I am looking forward to see what he will bring to the series as show runner.

Like the other stories (when they were written) this story stands a bit by itself in the Doctor Who time line.

We find The Doctor and Donna arriving (in the 51th century) at a planet full of books. In essence it is a library of all known books, known just as The Library. Something is very wrong, since the library seems completely empty. Well, there are the books, but no people at all, just a cryptic computerized warning message ‘Count the Shadows !’ .

Another party arrives, with among others, a certain professor River Song who appears to have a past with The Doctor, in his future. It turns out she even knows the name of The Doctor, something unheard of in the series until now, of course not counting The Doctor posing as John Smith, clearly an alias.

The “monster” of this story is the invisible, but very deadly Vashta Nerada, residing in the shadows and being a kind of “piranhas of darkness”.

In the story we learn enough to know why the Vashta Nerada act like they do, and of course The Doctor, aided by professor Song saves the vast majority of the people trapped on the planet.

The Little girl, living an imaginary life, does raise the questions of “what is reality” when Doctor Moon tells her that the life she thinks of as her own is not real .

For me the story has the best of the elements creating a good Who adventure, a good “monster”, a mystery or two, some good characters accompanying the Doctor, etc.

This was my first choice in the category for the Hugo Awards 2009. ‘Dr Horrible’ won that one, and that is fine.

‘Spoilers !!’ (River Song)

9/10 on the Lurker’s scale

“The Demolished Man” by Alfred Bester

Back online after a few days (travel and a visit to a friend)

On a long trip by car I listened to Alfred Bester’s novel “The Demolished Man”.

The story depicts a society where the police has telepathic detectives (“esper”s) solving crimes – or even act to prevent crimes.

The “Esper’s Guild” divides telepaths into firsts , seconds and thirds according to the strength of the telepaths.

Ben Reich, who is very critical of the Esper’s Guild, decides to eliminate a financial competitor and attempts to escape the telepathic detectives by hiring another telepath to block his thoughts.
After many twists and turns the prosecutor (a computer) dismisses tha case because of insufficient evidence.
In the end he is, after all punished by the Esper’s Guild (in spite of the aquittal) , and has his mind wiped and reprogrammed – a process called “Demolition”

The story has some nice twists and turns , and a surprising “inner journey” which I like.

The story was published in 1953 and exhibits some of the predudices opf the time, eg relating to women’s “place” in society , but if you can see through that´, the story works on its own premise , though seems a bit dated in our day and age. Also – Venus is depicted as a habitable world , something which is now known to be incorrect.

In any case I enjoyed the story, notwithstanding those weaknesses

Also – in the Series “Babylon 5” JMS (J.M. Straczynski) pays hommage to the story by naming his villain telepath (“Psi-Cop”) Alfred Bester.

I would rate the story 7/10.

Wikipedia entry for “The Demolished Man”

Stephen King in defense of Harry Potter

Stephen King has nice article about the Harry Potter books here where he critisizes the critics reviews of the latest book of being made on a very hasty reading of the book in order to be first to publish a review.

The hasty reviewers , according to King, do not get the full benefit of the book by such a fast reading. I tend to agree.

Further he talks about the appeal of the books to children and adults alike, and stresses the develpoment of the main characters from children into young adults as an advantage of the books , the young audience grew up with the characters. Good point.

Finally he noted the magic of the books that keeps the children interested in reading, clearly showing that the (paper) book is certainly not dead, even in this age of electronic media.

Read the article and decide yourself.