Book Review – Doctor Who: Palace of the Red Sun

  • Title: Palace of the Red Sun
  • Series: BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Christopher Bulis
  • Characters:  Sixth Doctor, Peri
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/24/2012

This book started very s…l…o…w…l…y. The Doctor (the 6th Doctor, played on the series by Colin Baker) and Peri land on a planet that seems to be an idyllic garden with a red sun. However, there are no people around. And for at least fifty pages… nothing happens, because there are no people around.

Eventually the Doctor and Peri get separated and the TARDIS disappears from where the Doctor left it. Again, very typical and not that interesting.

So I put this book down for a LONG time… like months. I just picked it up again and finished reading it in a couple of days. Overall, despite the slow start it was an OK read. Bulis really needs to improve his delivery style.

Anyway, when I picked up the book, the Doctor meets Green-8, a sentient gardening robot. Unlike most of the “thinking robots” in Doctor Who such as Daleks and Cybermen or indeed most thinking robots in science fiction in general (such as the Terminator movies) Green-8 is benevolent, curious, and even somewhat obsessed with philosophical questions such as “Who am I?” and “How did I come to be?” or even “Who made me?” and “Do I have to follow the Lords orders?” The Doctor convinces Green-8 to help him find his missing companion Peri.

Peri, meanwhile, has been taken hostage by the Red gardening robots and is being used as slave gardening labor alongside a group of other captured people called scavengers. Peri befriends a young scavenger boy named Kel.

Suddenly a large fireball appears in the sky, a huge wind and sand storm hits the land and considerable damage is done to the gardens. Peri uses this as the perfect opportunity to escape with Kel.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has just convinced Green-8 to help him find Peri, when the same fireball, storm, and shockwave hit his section of the planetoid. Green-8 reports the damage to the Lords in the Palace and orders his fellow Green Robots to clean-up and take care of the damage. This delays the Doctor and Green-8 from going anywhere. The Doctor also recognizes the firestorm as bombardment from space…and realizes he must warn the lords in the palace, even if it delays his search for Peri.

Meanwhile, a princess named Oralissa is beginning to have doubts — questioning things no one else around her questions, such as the mechanical servants that take care of the palace and grounds. She’s also less than happy to be forced into a marriage to one of two unsuitable suitors.

Peri and Kel encounter a “ghost girl nanny” then return to Kel’s home in the woods. Once there they soon run into a tabloid space reporter who’s covering the attack of a megalomanic dictator named Glavis Judd. Peri, Kel, Kel’s want-to-be bride, and another scavenger all head to the palace, accompanied by the reporter’s automatic camera drones.

Arriving at the palace, they meet the Doctor and the mystery begins to unravel… which I’m not going to spoil here. I will say that I had at least part of the mystery figured out before Bulis got around to explaining it. I also didn’t appreciate Bulis’ pushing the ideals of anarchy and anti-authority and anti-law and order every chance he got; especially given the epilogue is the exact opposite of his preaching.

Not the best Doctor Who book I’ve read in the BBC Books Past Doctor series, and overwhelmingly slow at times, but over all — not the worst book in the series either. The mystery elements were fairly well handled.

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