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EDA Readalong: The Taking of Planet 5

This month's featured book:
'The Taking of Planet 5' by Simon Bucher-Jones & Mark Clapham


(Just to remind you, the readlong featured book is one that has been widely approved of, and is the book you should read if you only have the time or inclination to read one EDA this month).

'The Taking of Planet 5' follows directly on from 'Blue Angel'... bits of 'Blue Angel' anyway. I'm not going to lie to you - even though this is a lot more straightforward than that, I still find it very confusing (don't worry - the straightforwardly good 'Frontier Worlds' is up next! I love that one). 'Taking of Planet 5' is a sequel to 'Image of the Fehndahl' - sort of. It still features Fitz and Compassion, we're still big into the Time War plot (it's important later) and so some old 'friends' from earlier in the series show up. There's some Lovecraft, and some paradox stuff. Both authors have done various other stuff in the Whoniverse, but I think this is the big thing of note.

Please put spoilery comments behind lj-spoiler cuts or white-out the text below an indication of where you are in the book. And please comment and discuss if possible!
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Comments

So, I did like this one, despite its fandom-newbie-unfriendliness and frequently labored prose. I'm of mixed feelings about some of Miles' Second War in Heaven concepts being revisited; I can't always take his ideas seriously (Faction Paradox in particular teeters between neat and so very try-hard) but I don't remember the world of the Celestis being quite that goofy, either. The Lovecraftian influence was also a bit much, but on the other hand I liked the exploration of the lives and psyches of Gallifreyan (child-)soldiers on the front, a perspective we've been missing before. Xenaria was a character I could be sympathetic to even as she did things I'd consider objectively questionable because I could understand exactly how she came to the worldview (verseview?) she held, and I wish Allopta had lived longer so we could see more of his dynamic with the others -- he seemed almost a conscientious objector at points. On the other hand Homunculette's reappearance seemed pointless; he had even less of a character than he did in Alien Bodies.

I've always wanted to see Time Lord shapeshifting abilities pushed up a notch, so that aspect was interesting at the same time as it was horrifying.

I wish I didn't know what was in store for Compassion so I could guess where all this foreshadowing would take her! I'm torn on how I feel about her place in the Team TARDIS dynamic -- it's definitely an unusual one, but the "Doctor is idealistic, Compassion is remorselessly pragmatic, Fitz fumbles around" template is getting old already, and since she's the new one we've seen relatively little of her outside that set-up. I do like the character a lot more than I expected, though.

With Fitz, meanwhile, I find myself annoyed at his character regression, which I realize is deliberate but still has vibes of a reset button for lazy writers. I thought it was very well handled that Fitz started out reflexively espousing typical 1963 attitudes towards women and then was shown growing out of that as he learned to relate towards them as people (or alternatively allowed himself to show that he did in fact see them as people, depending on interpretation) so this regression is disappointing. It might not be if it were explored in more detail, but it's more like the sidelong references to Fitz's Remote experiences are an excuse.
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May 2016

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