(ISBN 1-8460-7347-2)







 The Doctor's been

 everywhere and

 everywhen and

 seems to know all

 the answers. But

 ask him what

 happened to the

 Starship Brilliant

 and he hasn't the

 first idea. Did it fall

 into a sun or black

 hole? Was it shot

 down in the first

 moments of the

 galactic war? And

 what's this about a

 secret experimental



 The Doctor is skittish.

 But if Martha is so

 keen to find out he'll

 land the TARDIS on

 the Brilliant, then

 they can see for



 Soon the Doctor

 discovers the awful

 truth and Martha

 learns that you need

 to be careful what

 you wish for. She

 certainly wasn't

 hoping for mayhem,

 death, and badger-

 faced space pirates.


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Looking at the cover of The Pirate Loop by Simon Guerrier, my hopes weren’t high.

I certainly didn’t expect it to be a poor novel by any stretch of the imagination; it was more

that it promised nothing but a traipse of over heavily-trodden ground. Space pirates again; The Resurrection Casket barely a year old. A starship that looks like a sailing ship again; just days after the broadcast of Voyage of the Damned.


Thankfully though, I’m happy to report

that I could not have been more wrong.

If anything, The Pirate Loop is the

most original Doctor Who novel that

has been published since the tie-in

range launched in 2005. Provided

that the reader is able to get over the

innate bizarreness that comes with

having badgers cast as space pirates,

then there is so very much to enjoy



First off, the book encapsulates both the spirit and the feel of the television series splendidly, and what’s more Guerrier’s characterisation is first class. The Doctor enjoys a very strong outing indeed, not only in terms of how much of ‘the usual’ he is given to do, but also in how he must wrestle with the temporal ramifications of attempting to save a starship that history records as having been lost. He enjoys some truly wonderful scenes with Martha in which

he tries to explain to her the intricacies of how the web of time hangs together, even using the delightful metaphor of a “patchwork of lies” to help her understand that making one little change inexorably prompts another and then another and so on and so forth, as is the case with telling lies. I also appreciated Guerrier’s cheeky little continuity joke – it seems that the Doctor tries not to think about all the “messy” continuity that his own adventures bring with them. Sage counsel indeed.


At one point, Guerrier uses the same trick that Chris Chibnall did in 42, i.e. he hints that a regeneration is impending or, perhaps, has even occurred in order to stress just how badly the Doctor has been hurt. Arguably it works better in print than it does on television as we can’t see the Doctor and so we don’t actually know if he’s changed - we have to rely on the clues given to us by the author. This all falls apart, of course, once you realise that you’re a world-weary and cynical grown-up, but I’m sure that many of the children reading  this book will have fallen for the rouse.


And for her part, Martha is even more impressive. It’s not entirely clear when exactly this novel is set, but I’d imagine that these events take place not all that long before the Master trilogy that wraps up the 2007 series and so Martha’s get-up-and-go in The Pirate Loop doesn’t come as all that much of a surprise. She has just as much, if not more, to do with

the resolution of matters here than the Doctor does. The way that she stands up to those badgers!


Now I know that this sounds daft, but these badgers really are quite nasty villains. They’re vicious, bloodthirsty, murderers that are content to kill and keep on killing until they get what they want. And what makes them all the more terrifying is that they are incredibly stupid and don’t seem to know what they want. In all honesty, at times it felt like I was reading a scene from 24 rather than Doctor Who, albeit with badgers and tentacles. At one point I could not see any way of matters being resolved save for Jack Bauer crashing the party and taking

out the badgers.


Best of all though, The Pirate Loop is a tremendously strong science-fiction story. Although

it all seems so obvious at the end (and the title is just a little bit of a clue!), there is enough going on to keep the reader guessing throughout - so many twists and so much action; so very much to love. The Doctor duels with the captain of the space pirate badgers, and then has a bit of a dance to Mika. What’s not to love?


At the end of the day The Pirate Loop is one of only a select few new series novels that I would actively recommend or perhaps even buy as a gift for someone. It’s still no Human Nature, but for what it is and what it is meant to be, its absolutely outstanding. We could really do with more like this one.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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