GIVEAWAY and Book Review: “The Silent Stars Go By” by Dan Abnett

Okay, first let me say that whoever wins my giveaway contest on this one will be one lucky reader. Don’t forget to comment at the end! Dan Abnett’s THE SILENT STARS GO BY is an awesome book in just about every regard – I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to read and review it. Thanks, TLC Book Tours!

THE SILENT STARS GO BY is the 11th book in the 50th Anniversary Dr. Who series, set up by BBC Books. It features the 11th Doctor, who is played in the series by Matt Smith, with his companions Amy and Rory Pond, recently married. In this book, the Doctor and his companions exit the TARDIS thinking that they have returned to Rory and Amy’s hometown in time for Christmas. What they find is indeed a snowy winter wonderland, but not quite in the way they were hoping. On a foreign planet many thousands of years into the future, they discover that the humans there (Morphans, as they call themselves) are in the midst of terraforming a new world to suit their needs – but strange and deadly creatures have begun wandering the world, and the Doctor and his companions have stumbled into a conflict that is about to come to a head.

Dan Abnett does a spectacular job capturing the voices and styles of each of the three major characters – Matt Smith’s particular incarnation of the Doctor, as well as Amy and Rory. The dialogue and description are so vibrant that I could at times hear the actors and actress saying their lines and picture their precise setting as it might be shown in an episode of the BBC production. And that’s no small feat to achieve. I wonder how long Abnett studied the show and the scripts, taking notes on the characters’ vocal tics and word choices to bring them so fully to life in the pages.

The story, too, is wonderfully entertaining. Never for a second does it stop or slow down, and there’s a twist in every chapter and a discovery at every turn. Danger – in an often comedic fashion, as narrated by the Doctor, Amy, and Rory – lurks around every corner, and the characters all fight their way through the life-threatening situations with aplomb and hilarity. Along the way, Abnett drops in references to various Christmas songs and winter-themed poetry, as well as the occasional literary reference – all of which serves to deepen my respect both for the writer and for the Doctor.

It does have a more serious side, though, from the religious overtones in the Morphan community (they have replaced worship of God with worship of Guide Emanual, i.e. the guidebook that tells them how to operate the incredibly complex terraforming machinery that is working away at their world) to the code of honor displayed (though not always acted upon) by their invaders, to the complex ethics of transforming a world to suit an invader’s needs. Abnett deals with all these issues carefully, addressing them on all sides while maintaining the lighthearted spirit that befits the Doctor and his frivolous approach to the world.

Overall I found it to be an immensely satisfying and enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it. I’m also curious to see what else Dan Abnett has done, given his obvious talent as a writer.

Of course, it would take a momentous story to make a book like this world-altering or mind-blowing, and so according to my own rating system I cannot give it 5/5 stars. But for a page-turning work of alternately comedic and serious entertainment, I cannot find fault with this book. This book can be found on Amazon here.

Now, dear readers! Comment on this review and be entered to win a copy of Dan Abnett’s THE SILENT STARS GO BY! I’ll close the contest at midnight CT on Wednesday and then will draw for the winner.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Recommended for: Fans of the Doctor Who BBC series as well as general science-fiction fans.