Mark Michalowski





 (ISBN 1-846-07557-5)







 For Donna Noble, the

 Andromeda galaxy

 is a long, long way

 from home. But even

 milliOnS OF light

 years from Earth,

 danGer lurks around

 every corner...


 A visit to an art

 gallery turns into

 a race across space

 to uncover the secret

 behind a shadowy

 organisation. From

 the desert world of

 Karris to the inter-

 planetery scrapyard

 of junk, the Doctor

 and Donna discover

 that appearances

 can be deceptive, that

 enemies are lurking

 around every corner,

 and that the peace

 between humans and

 machines IS about to

 come to an end.


 Because waiting in

 the wings to bring

 chaos to the galaxy

 is the cult of Shining



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Shining Darkness is rather a bizarre one. At its best, it’s reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ work… although, appropriately improbably, a Star Trekky sort of morality offsets the Adamsian humour. Above all else though, Mark Michalowski’s second revived series novel is refreshingly alien – a feeling that is heightened if you are prepared to accept the conceit that the vast majority of the Doctor’s adventures take place in good old Mutters’ Spiral.


This novel sees the Doctor take Donna to a planet in another galaxy; a galaxy that he claims to know very little about. Now this idea is attractive in a couple of different ways – firstly, its all new. For example, one of the major premises upon which the story is built is that Androm-eda is populated by as many robots as organic life forms. As such, rather than encountering one bipedal race after another (though to be fair, Shining Darkness does still feature a fair few bipedal races…), the reader is confronted with a superfluity of diverse and distinctive mechanicals, each as unique in character as it is in appearance. Secondly – and in my view, more fascinatingly – we get to see the Doctor in a very different light. He isnt all-knowing here; far from it. In fact, he is as much a fish out of water as his companion is. The resulting story consequently feels rather Hartnell-ish in tone – quite an achievement, forty-odd years on.


Michalowski’s machine culture is quite captivating too, particularly when seen from Donna’s admittedly narrow view, which I would imagine most of this book’s readership will share.

Some of the awkward and confusing

scenarios that Donna finds herself in

really hammer home the old ‘it’s whats

inside that counts…’ moral in a fairly

distinctive way. Donna treats a ‘bimbot’

with respect because it looks human, yet

she finds herself affording Weiou very

little respect at all because he looks

nothing like. It’s unquestionably a steep

learning curve for the ‘Ginger Goddess.’


“…here she was, on an alien planet, being worshipped for her gingerness.

If only her dad and gramps could see her now – see how special her hair had made her!”


Speaking of which, the whole ‘Ginger Goddess’ sequence is totally riotous - I absolutely loved the Jaftee. Imagine a race so fickle that they get new Gods every week – brilliant!

On reflection its probably more Faith Stealer than The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it’s just as entertaining nonetheless.


There are elements of this novel that I wasn’t quite so fond of though. I found it very difficult indeed to care about any of the characters (robots and humanoid… I’m not prejudiced like Donna!) besides the Doctor and Donna, and frankly the plot is hardly magnificent. What’s more, the space opera format, despite not being attempted much (or should that be at all?) on television in the new series, does not quite work here – it all feels too circular. The first half of the novel, for instance, sees Donna a prisoner of Garaman and his cronies whilst the Doctor swans about with Mother and the Mechanicals (now there’s a name for a band, if ever you wanted one). In the second half, they switch around – literally.


Nevertheless, there is more to like about this book than not and it is definitely well worth shelling out a fiver or so on.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008


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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