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Reviews for The Algebra of Ice

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A Missing Adventure from the NAs

By:Phil Ince, Highbury, London
Date:Wednesday 8 September 2004
Rating:   8

Haven't read more than a handful of New Advetures but this is very much in the style of those I have read, perhaps closer to Time's Crucible than Nightshade (as I recollect them). Shows heavy influence and even reference of Paul "The Cornball" Cornell (reading like an homage to the NAs; much simpler feel to the writing though more complexity in the basis of the story than most of the BBC books I've read).

It's character heavy, fairly event light, but bowls along with some real wit and compassion not only in the dialogue but in the events themselves. Ace is 'emotional' but never raucous or shrill. The book's set early on in the NA sequence and for readers of the whole run, it probably adjusts the Doctor / Ace relationship since the Doctor's "coldness" is central to the book, even literally so by the end. This alien chill is given a context and his potential for apparantly dispassionate mass murder and manipulation is examined and 'explained'.

2 favourite things:

1. The expected happens. Why is that a positive?, you cry. Because the individuals are characters rather than plot points, ciphers. Rather than being a plod of predictability, the reader travels with the characters in the book as one might walk with them on a road. The consequence of the company and setting is that the reader can therefore see ahead.

2. It's messy. Rather than being full of pat resolutions where a punch or a bang conludes something, the energy of those sets something else off that then needs to be dealt with. Though the protagonists don't always recognise that at the time.

It has a few dashes of scientific philosophising, has a kind of Wells-ian or Clarke-ish taking of a single (in this case higher mathematical) idea and making a drama out of it.

I was absorbed by it and would recommend it heartily. If this is what the NAs were like even 2 times out of 5, I must get hold of some more.

The Algebra of Writing

By:Stephen Carlin, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Date:Sunday 26 September 2004
Rating:   5

The Doctor and Ace visit different time zones - and find minor alterations. History changes but in a big way - minor changes. At the core of these changes is a young man working on a mathematical problem. The Doctor also discovers that UNIT are invtesigating unusual crop shapes - patterns which seem to be overlaid with ice.

As the book progresses it seems that the Doctor may be dealing with a race that exists in a universe of pure mathematics, a universe that seeks to exist forever, to defy entropy by connecting to our universe and using its energy.

Its an interesting notion, but sadly a wasted book. I really found little beyond the core idea to make this a good book. I found the characters uninteresting, the story structure quite poor- in short a waste of a good idea. Even UNIT and the Brigadier are little more than token parts of the story.

A reasonable book, worth a read for the core concept but by no means a really good read. Read it for completion's sake but not if you want a really good cracking story.

Vivid and powerful

By:Matthew B, Cardiff
Date:Friday 28 October 2005
Rating:   10

Lloyd Rose is hugely reliable when it comes to the level of quality one might expect from her writing, and this is not to say that she trots out the same thing with every book, Terrance Dicks style. It is simply that one can expect an EXCELLENT read every time. The Algebra of Ice is a wonderful book. I disagree with the reviewer below - it IS a cracking read. It's very competently written, which may sound like faint praise, but there's an awful lot of bad structuring and incoherence in the EDAs and PDAs, which makes this book very refreshing indeed. There is certainly intrigue and mystery, but not at the expense of clarity. The characters are superb (especially Brett, who is a truly nasty piece of work) and the prose is vivid and fluid. I recommend this very highly.


By:Hatman, New Lewes
Date:Friday 26 May 2006
Rating:   7

much better than city of the dead. that was diabolical. not to mention rubbish. This book actually makes sense, unlike many of the others.

Near perfect, missing something, though.

By:Brian Smith, University Place, WA
Date:Monday 8 January 2007
Rating:   9

An excellent missing New Adventure.

Engaging Story, Profound Philosophizing

By:Doug, Pocono Summit, PA, USA
Date:Tuesday 31 July 2007
Rating:   9

"'Eventually it will happen anyway: heat death of the universe and so on.' He smiled again. 'Like the centre of Hell, the centre of life, is ice. I'm only speeding things up.'

"'Because you hate life?'

"'Because life is unforgiveable.' Brett crushed his cigarette in the pin dish. 'The complexities and, indeed, wonders of human existence are possible only because they are supported by gobbling selfishness. Mozart should not have written music; he should have been working to alleviate suffering. Da Vinci should never have painted, Shakespeare should never have written, Einstein should never have worked out his incomprehensible theories of reality. Everything we call culture is based on a dereliction of moral duty. No journalist should write, no architect should build, no teacher should instruct, no vintners should make wine. No miner should take home his pay and enjoy his family, no garbage collector should buy himself a beer, no nurse should take a hot bath at the end of her shift, no child should have a pet, no reader lose himself in a book. They all stand in blood. And there's no "salvation" from some postulated good society. Every civilization, from the villages of Africa to the hideously complicated structures of western Europe, rests on cruelty, and is corrupt.'"

Wow! What a book. I really didn't expect as much from The Algebra of Ice as it ended up delivering - what a great read!

It was like I was back in the height of the NAs, reading a new release from that range that would come to stand out in my memory as one of a number of classic stories.

I agree completely with Phil Ince's review below. The Algebra of Ice has numerous kisses to the past of the NAs and the classic t.v. series woven throughout the story, done in a non-gratuitous and immensely satisfying way, in my opinion. The overall experience is one of very comfortable familiarity, while at the same time offering new insight into the characters and a very interesting, and in some ways groundbreaking, new story.

At several points throughout The Algebra of Ice, we are presented with some very deep issues. At those moments, some very profound statements are made that have an impact normally found only in more serious literature.

Rather than say much more about the plot, I'll end this review with another favorite bit of dialogue from the book:

"Molecross cleared his throat. 'You don't understand. You're a miracle.'

"'Oh for heaven's sake.'

"'No, listen to me.' His seriousness made the Doctor look up. 'You don't understand. Time and space are yours. The mysterious is as ordinary for you as eggs for breakfast. But my life is small. I never... I'm not good with people. At school...' He swallowed hard. 'But I always knew, you know, that this wasn't it. I mean, why would we be made to feel wonder if there wasn't any to feel? It had to be somewhere.'

"'Somewhere else,' said the Doctor gently.

"'Not here, that's for bloody certain. But on the edges of everything there's... strangeness. Second sight. Hauntings. UFOs. Astrology. I mean, Newton studied alchemy.'

"'Newton is paranoid schizophrenic.'

"'You've met him, then?'

"'He's a difficult man.'

"'But he knew. There were truths out there, truths no one had ever seen, and he saw them. If he hadn't had the sort of mind that could accept something as weird as alchemy, would he have recognised anything as weird as the laws of motion? Where does the crank end and the genius begin? Where does the ridiculous end and the transcendent begin?' Molecross rubbed the side of his face, suddenly embarrassed. 'I always knew there was something more,' he finished. 'And it's you. Everything you are, everything you represent.'"

And one more quote:

"Ethan thought about his beautiful numbers. Clean as bone. No messy leaking, aging, hurting, dying flesh. Yes, he thought matter-of-factly, it's true. He'd sensed it all that time ago, when he heard Unwin rant against life, and now he saw it whole. He'd always been afraid. In his own way, he'd hated life. Just like the poor Molecross chasing after the wondrous. Just like Unwin with his numbers, and Brett with his annihilating savagery. And like the Doctor as well. None of them could face the world. The only one of them truly alive was Ace.

"'Yes,' said the Doctor. 'Without her, what would I be? What would I become?'"

Math Lesson

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 31 January 2022
Rating:   7

"The Algebra of Ice" is a great title, but sadly not a great novel. The novel perpetually feels like it is just about to take off, but never really does leave the ground. The story, such as it is, goes like this. The Doctor and Ace are watching some events in time rewind and reshape, then smooth out. The investigation to the cause leads them to a bizarre crop circle in 21st-century England. The crop circle is not a circle, but rather sets of incomplete shapes; plus, it's made of ice that apparently takes a very long time (weeks? months?) to melt. The TARDIS lets The Doctor know that a young mathematician named Ethan Amberglass is somehow part of the problem. It seems that the crop patterns are attempts by a race (unnamed throughout the book) from another universe of pure mathematics, who have used up almost all the energy in their universe fighting off entropy so they can live forever, and are now trying to break through into this universe to do the same here. Helping them is a sociopathic rich guy named Brett and another mathematician he knew from University named Unwin. Brett somehow (we never know how) has Unwin completely under his control. Oh, and UNIT have been called in to look into the crop pattern, and they bring the Brigadier out of retirement to help them out. Also, there is a pathetic publisher of an online magazine about conspiracy stuff, named Molecross, who constantly tags along and annoys everyone. The main problem with this book is how underwhelming it all is. There are many very interesting ideas that just click along before fizzling out. We are constantly reminded that the stakes are high, that the UNIVERSE is at stake, yet no one really acts as if it is, and the aliens are repeatedly rather easily frustrated in their efforts to break through. Rose is not very good in giving his villains motivations. Brett is just a sociopath, and that seems to be all we need to know. The aliens just want eternal life. UNIT and the Brigadier are completely wasted in this book. They do practically nothing and get about 10% at most of the pages. Several key aspects of the book are left unexplained. How did Brett meet these aliens? Why is he so keen on helping them? How do these aliens from another universe know about The Doctor? How is it that Brett can so easily overpower everyone when it is just him? What is the connection of the aliens' attempted incursions and the time anomalies apart from providing a convenient moment to move the plot along late in the novel? So, great title, interesting ideas, flawed conception - that sums my impression of this novel.

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