Doctor Who
The Resurrection Casket

Author: Justin Richards
Read by: David Tennant
BBC Audio
RRP: 9.99
ISBN 1 846 07061 9
Available 03 July 2006

Starfall: a world on the edge, where crooks and smugglers hide in the gloomy shadows and modern technology refuses to function - and that includes the TARDIS. Will the Doctor's ship ever work again? Is the lost treasure of space pirate Hamlek Glint waiting to be found? And does his fabled Resurrection Casket, the key to eternal life, really exist? The Doctor and Rose aim to find out...

Following a couple of Earth-based Tenth Doctor stories, The Resurrection Casket takes us deep into space and far into the future - though the technology on Starfall seems more like that of an age gone by. For Starfall lies in the midst of a zone of electromagnetic gravitation, which means that nothing electrical will operate. There are machines, including spaceships, robots and even a cyborg barmaid, but they are all steam-powered. Though this narrative is not true steampunk (a genre that Doctor Who has tackled before in BBC Books' Imperial Moon and Big Finish's A Storm of Angels), the effect is much the same.

A most enjoyable effect it is, too - though the concept of robots being forced to rely on low-tech power sources, including human flesh, unfortunately coincides with similar developments in the television episode The Girl in the Fireplace.

As with the same author's The Clockwise Man, one of his main characters is a young boy, in this case a wannabe space explorer called Jimm. The major twist surrounding this character isn't hard to guess, though other revelations will hopefully surprise listeners who haven't read the original book.

The plot is an homage to Treasure Island, though the notion of pirates (both space-bound and Earth-bound) and the search for their hidden treasure will also evoke nostalgic memories of old Who serials such as The Smugglers, The Space Pirates and The Pirate Planet. Tying in with the Smugglers angle and the overall tone of Justin Richards's narrative, reader David Tennant gives several of his characters Cornish accents.

In an interview at the end of the second disc, Richards discusses his career in general and the development of this book in particular. He comes across as more of a planner than his fellow author Stephen Cole, though both agree on the relative merits of writing about their own characters (which allow greater creative freedom) and those of the Doctor Who universe (though there are creative restrictions, they are outweighed by the versatility and sheer fun of the series' format).

The Resurrection Casket is easily Richards's most agreeable book based on the new version of Who. It's a veritable treasure trove.

Richard McGinlay

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