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Salvation is mine

By:Trevor Smith, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Date:Tuesday 25 September 2012
Rating:   8

Another really good book from Steve Lyons. Loved the ideas in this book & loved the fleshing out of Dodo's character.

There Are No Miracles

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Thursday 11 August 2011
Rating:   8

Steve Lyons has written another excellent book. The basics are fairly straightforward. Lyons has written the backstory behind Dodo's first appearance in the TARDIS. She is running away from a confused alien who has taken over the body of man in her neighborhood and has kept her hostage for several days. Unbeknownst to her, these events are tied into a series of UFO incidents in Britain and the US. The Doctor takes Dodo to New York City, where it seems, the action is heating up. This involves a group of aliens who look like angels and gods and seemingly have the power to grant people their wishes. Things start to get out of hand when these alien-gods try to establish a cult to themselves in New York. It's a strange plot, but the novel is the most direct interrogation of something that has been on Lyons' mind, given what his other novels are about.

There are a few things to quibble about before getting to the essential work. Most of my quibbles revolve around Lyons' portrait of America. His New York is really London with different names for places. Likewise, his portrayal of the American military makes it more like the British military. General Marchant talks more like an Englishman than an American. He carries a swagger stick, which is not all that popular in the American military. Other American characters also fall into English rather than American diction, such as "keep to" rather than "stick to."

The essential novel more than makes up for these errors in rendering the setting. The issue here is religion. Lyons is not particularly concerned with questions of whether one or the other religion is "right" or "wrong." His novel is concerned with what motivates people to get religious in the first place. More generally, this becomes a matter of dedicating oneself to a concept.

The gods in the story are not gods, but aliens with weak psyches, little imagination, and tremendous power in manipulating reality and perception. They absorb the ideas of other minds and mold themselves and reality to fit these ideas. Thus, they appear to be gods because this seems to be what the people around them want. They start acting like the gods that the people want them to be. Instead of the religion molding the people, the people mold the religion. However, once a multitude of people start joining, they bring a multitude of desires and expectations. What started out as a simple message of peace to everyone becomes a confused cacophony of doctrines and pronouncements. The gods become angry and vengeful. Love turns into destruction. The whole process is a miniature enactment of the historical process of religion, or at least one interpretation of that process. The gods are really ideas made manifest. When the ideas start conflicting, so do the gods. Thus, factions are born.

Lyons writes in general about how dedication to ideals warps people's perceptions and ethics, taking their focus on where he thinks it should truly be, which is the ethics of person-to-person relations. Lyons displays the consequences of not following Immanuel Kant's dictum, that the source of ethics is in treating people as ends in themselves and not as means to ends. One has the example of General Marchant, dedicated to his idea of national security and America first every bit as much as a religious zealot is dedicated to his/her religious ideas. This drives Marchant to break all communications with his daughter. Even after they temporarily must work together, he cannot make the loving connection he ought, and turns her out of his life once again. There is the example of Steven, who is so desperate to find an idea to believe in, a cause that would in his view give meaning to his life, that he breaks away from the Doctor and even temporarily joins the new cult. Lyons shows in these examples how raising ideals above people breaks the personal connections that make life bearable. On the opposite side of this is the Dodo-Joseph story. The reader sees that Dodo's attachment to Joseph, even though he is an alien, brings him around. Through the emotional bond they share, Joseph can see how badly astray his fellow "gods" have gone. The gods, and Joseph too, are using people for their own ends, which is to give themselves identity and purpose. They cannot help themselves, and this is their danger to any intelligent species that has contact with them. Only through his connection to Dodo can Joseph see this and learn to do the right thing.

A reader can see these themes in other Lyons books, stories of the terrible consequences derived from people's giving up free will to the cause, whatever it might be. In "The Final Sanction," the loss of an entire intelligent species results from dedication to ideals and the resulting loss of ethical compass. Similarly, "The Witch Hunters" shows that the Salem witch trials were largely caused by the same impulse, that the idea one believes wholly in, whatever it is, is more important than the life of any person.

Lyons' explorations of these themes, and his technique of demonstrating them through plot rather than telling them through dialogue, is what I believe sets him apart as a writer from most the other writers of Doctor Who novels. It is what makes his books so popular and highly praised.

simply the best

By:nick, australia
Date:Sunday 21 September 2008
Rating:   10

In brief, this is simply one of the very best books in the Past Doctor range- not only are the main characters spot on and developed well, the book provides so much food for thought on the nature of faith, belief, right, wrong... a very mature book and well worth the read.


By:Nick Forbes, Sydney
Date:Thursday 24 April 2008
Rating:   8

A great concept, extremely believable characters, and a very well translated to print version of the Doctor. Lyons has done it again.

Great book for New Whovians

By:Ted Schnitzler, Avondale,pa. USA
Date:Saturday 8 April 2006
Rating:   9

Having only recently joined the Whovian ranks, I started on the 1st doctor books. In the Tv novelizations they didn't explain how they "aquired" Dodo, and I went and bought this book, my 1st BBC outing and Wowsers!! This was a great story, great character developement for Dodo, Steve shines as well and The Doctor is fantastic. I agree with the previous review, the Gods weren't completely explained as I'd like, and there Homeworld chapters seemed alittle underdeveloped or explained. Could be my Yankee unfamiliarity with the Doctor. But as a 1st BBC book this was an excellant read.

Excellent read!

By:Matt, England
Date:Thursday 26 August 2004
Rating:   9

Another brilliant little gem from Steve Lyons.
The character of Dodo is well introduced and written for throughout; she is a companion who has never really had a chance to shine. William Hartnell's Doctor is also catered for superbly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but felt that the Gods' potential was never truly realised, very few revelations about them were actually made... Hopefully there will be a sequel!

I would vote 9.9 if possible. this is a Brilliant PDA, and an Excellent read- Highly recommended!

Steve lyons = good book

By:will, Fareham, England
Date:Saturday 8 November 2003
Rating:   10

I love this book and felt the charcters are so well written and retains the era very well but i did not like the begging felt it was a bit boring. Apart from that one of the best BBC books.

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