The Book of the Still
|ISBN||0 563 53851 1|
|Synopsis: The Book of the Still is a lifeline for stranded time travellers - write your location, sign your name and be instantly rescued. Fitz knows where it is, but then he's the one who stole it. Anji, alone on a doomed planet, trying to find evidence of a race that has never had the decency to exist, doesn't know where anybody is. Embroiled in the deadly chase, the Doctor is starting to worry about how many people he can keep alive along the way...|
A Review by Finn Clark 25/6/02
Most of this book is lots of fun. It's lively, it's packed with good ideas and the writing is good. It's perhaps trying a little too hard in places, straining for the bonniest mot, but it smooths out a bit in later chapters. Lebenswelt is a great planet. It takes a few chapters before you feel you've got a grip on what's going on there, but once you do you'll find plenty to intrigue you.
It's a hard story to categorise. It's not quite an "oddball story", whatever that is, but it's not gritty realism either. I think perhaps the best description might be "science fantasy", that oft-maligned sub-genre which has been slagged off by SF purists since time immemorial but in fact has its own charms. The Book of the Still creates futuristic worlds which might be described as socio-economically high-concept, just like George Lucas gives us worlds that are environmentally high-concept (city-planets, cloud cities, waterworlds, swamp, jungle, desert, etc.) Its ideas and situations are fanciful but not absurd, taking your imagination on a trip without having to resort to outright magical fantasy like The Scarlet Empress. There's a lot to like in here.
The regulars are okay, though I particularly liked Fitz's sixties-ness. That's something I've rarely got a sense of in the books. The Unnoticed are great, keeping the story driving even when we get off Lebenswelt. (There's a goof on page 191 - the Doctor meant to say 2000 years, not 4000 - but I'm really nitpicking here.)
Unfortunately things fall apart a bit at the end. Then they fall apart a lot.
By the end, events are basically out of control. Strictly speaking there's no main bad guy, the only candidates being either comic relief or not really evil. The book degenerates into a lot of running around and confusing revelations. I've just finished the last page, but I've no idea whatsoever who was telling the truth, who was misleading whom and even whether a certain mentioned character ever existed in the first place. And X being Y didn't much work for me either (if that's really true, that is). Personally I had a hard time matching up the characterisation and goofiness of X to the very different goofiness of Y. It would only have taken a little bit of foreshadowing to make that palatable for me - but like I said, I'm still not sure if that bit was true. I'm confused.
But that's only at the end. Most of this book is simply fun, packed with twists and ideas. In a line that's recently produced Grimm Reality, Adventuress of Henrietta Street and Mad Dogs and Englishmen, this book still manages to seem like a quirky side-step. Recommended.
Anji prefers Daphne to Velma! by Joe Ford 18/7/02
Usually when I read a book I split the document into four categories. Plot. Characters. Prose. Structure. Now every now and then a book comes along that scores very highly in all of these departments (Adventuress of Henrietta Street, Seeing I, Father Time). Sometimes a book can be saved from oblivion by scoring highly with just one or two (Demontage has excellent structure and plot, Vanishing Point came up trumps with its characters and prose) but I must say it is so rare for me to be quite so conflicted with a book. The Book of the Still is a fantastic read. And yet The Book of the Still is deeply frustrating. Let me take those four catagories and explain...
Ebbs clearly has an excellent grasp on The Doctor, Fitz and Anji. Maybe he realised (as I did) that Fitz is being a little underused lately and he chose to remedy the situation. The large chunk of Fitz action here takes me back to Stephen Cole's editorship when the character was used a lot because frankly he was the best thing about the range. Fitz's love story is sweet and touching, with no memories of the Doctor he finally gets to go out on his own and do things on his own motives. Very refreshing. Anji is captured to a tee... this book confirmed my love for this most atypical of companions. Yes she can be bitchy and moany but godammit she is just sooo funny! The book's setting is mostly told through Anji's eyes and it seemed brilliantly real through these unimpressed time traveller's eyes. She is sidetracked a little but her meeting with Rhian left me laughing out loud. Brilliant Scooby Doo references! And as for The Doctor, his adventures with Rhian were probably the best part of the book, when she teaches him to dance I was almost in tears (sorry, soppy git alert) when they thought they were going to die.
Rhian was the character who most surprised me, she was fleshed out more than many original characters in these novels and I was impressed with her actions near the end. She may have been a unwilling partner (in crime) but she sure came through for the Doctor.
The troublesome trio darlow, Gimcrack and Svadhisthana are great and live up to their cliched nature perfectly. I don't know if it was meant to be funny but I laughed EVERYTIME Darlow slapped Gimcrack. There fate is one of the best twists in the book.
Carmodi was okay as a romantic interest for Fitz but she wasn't really defined until the last third at which point I was getting bored with just how elusive she was. The answers about her origin were cool, however. What she did do however was re-inforce how much Fitz loves the Doctor and a beautiful line from Fitz near the end of the novel confirms this.
It was these enjoyable characters that I remebered most when I finally put the book down.
Oh geez do I have to? There were points where the plot got me excited and raced up, eager to see what happened next but these were few and far between. The ball was expecially well done and explosive. This is one of those non-linear plots that you have to plan so perfectly so they don't unravel and confuse the reader. I was confused. The first few chapters jump about in the past and present and I still cannot for the life of me see why! Probably just to give the first chapter it's obligatory spectacular moment! Sorry Paul, no cigar... this is a complex tale (eventually) wrapped up in a simple plot so why did you have to confuse things further by hoping about all over the timeline? And what was with that ending? I was fine right up until the Unnoticed twist and then bam... everything's all right again? Sorry mate you lost me there. So while I had been greatly enjoying the book until that point I put it down with a bitter feeling. Not good. Can anybody e-mail a simple answer to what happened at the end? Maybe I'm just stupid. I will say for most of the book I was relatively enjoying the plot, it was pleasantly simple in an enjoyable way but that ending just screwed it up for me.
Prose (in my excitement I think I just covered Structure in the Plot
The book's shining achievement. Even if I wasn't impresseed with Paul Ebbs' plot I was continually wowed by his prose. Can I just say I don't think we have had anyone write a novel like this before. Kate Orman writes gently, weighing on the characters. Lance Parkin writes evocatively, providing some of the most beautiful descriptions the book range has offered. And yet nobody, NOBODY writes with the sense of humour that Ebbs does. Even Paul Magrs and his wacky plot, his prose is relatively simple even if they are chocked full of jokes. Paul Ebbs' prose is the joke, I kid thee not! He describes things as though he's not quite taking everything seriously, his characters say things that REAL people say (with their quirks and funny moments). I really connected with the book on this level because it almost felt as though Ebbs was a friend, telling the story to me and exaggerating the funny points and laying a lot of emotion for the more serious ones. There were so many times that I shook my head thinking "You can't write like that!" such as our introduction to Rhian, the surreal fantasy in Fitz's and Anji's head, the ball... he was constantly using italics to stress things, kept putting strange lyrics all over the place, hopping about from plotline to plotline with no excuses... I was so wrapped up in the godamn madness of it all I was forgetting the damn plot! Mr Ebbs has a real talent there, and I hope he is used again just so i can savour some more of his delicious prose.
So you see my dilemma, did I enjoy the book? Absolutely. Was it a masterpiece, definitely not! Would I reccomend it... yes but with caution... this may not be YOUR kind of book. I enjoyed it on a (if this is possible) visceral level and fell head over heels for some of the characters but if you're not into people who think very loudly in joined up words, or monsters that are mercilessly described to the point of nausea this may not be the book for you. Good stuff, but you have been warned....
Let's start with a quick round up of everyone else's opinion. SFX gave it high marks indeed with an impressive ***** out of ***** saying it "upped the ante for the 8th Doctor books and had the best characterisation of the 8th Doctor yet. Doctor Who Magazine weren't as kind saying it was "promising and had many memorable scenes but writer Paul Ebbs didn't know what to do with his high concepts". Dreamwatch were more kind offering 6/10 saying "fans of action and thrills won't be disapointed". The truth with these things (as usual) lies somewhere in the middle.
What with Trading Futures, The Crooked World, Grimm Reality, Earthworld and Mad Dogs you must agree it is as though the book range has found a sense of humour at last. It is a relief to have some fun after some of the heavier books of the range (Adventuress). The Book of the Still is huge fun to read, full of bizarre concepts, freaky characters and strange situations. The book is loaded with scenes that remind me of Williams Who at its peak, camp, funny and undeniably entertaining.
Lebenswelt is a great place to visit. Earthworld, Hitchemus, Ceres Alpha, the Poodle Planet, Zanytown... recently we have been treated to a number of wonderful worlds to explore and this is no different. Paul Ebbs achieves one thing I admire very much in writers and pours on unpleasant sights, smells and sounds... he makes the reader squirm with his grotesque descriptions of Lebenswelt, sewage laden streets, flocks of killer bats... it's all nasty stuff. A lot of writers like to create beautiful worlds and show off their prose in intense descriptions of paradise but I think it's much braver to prove yourself the hard way by making people uncomfortable.
Reading this a second time means I can afford to step back from the plot and look at the characters more intimately. Just look at the Doctor, a charming, sweet, generous man who in all respects has a relationship with secondary character Rhian except sealing the deal (that's the sweaty stuff to you guys and gals). They fight, they dance, they stick with each other not even knowing why. It's great stuff and is helped by the fact that Rhian is described as unattractive. If I had a complaint it would be that this plot thread (which admitedly isn't written as a romance... that's just my own little subtext) is forgotten at the end as the two part company. A shame.
Fitz... aww bless him he's still making the same mistakes, falling for women just by the way they fondle his ears. Trechary, heartbreak and betrayal are coming... we all know that it's just waiting for the inevitable to come. This plotline verges on the sickening at times (bit too mushy for me) but later twists turn it into a tragedy (of sorts) and you can't help but feel for Fitz. His admission (finally) that he loves the Doctor is possibly his best moment yet.
Of course its Anji who wins here. By all accounts I should utterly hate her. Much like Tegan she bitches and moans throughout, takes instant dislikes to people and generally causes a lot of mischief. However unlike Tegan she is written with such a sense of humour, her thoughts coming thick and fast (any scene where she is back stabbing Rhian is instantly priceless!). The madness with which Ebbs writes Anji makes her passages a particular delight.
Unfortunately the plot is less than water tight and the books BIGGEST problem is that lots of mysterious things happen (like Fitz suddenly bunking the planet) and it takes ages to find an explanation. Don't get me wrong there are many highlights in the twisty plot (the meeting of plot twists at the EXPLOSIVE ballroom dance is possibly the book's shining moment, a point at which the shit hits the fan and we watch everyone get dirty!) but in general the events just amble along intruigingly and then WHAM... twist palooza about two thirds in. A book should guide you to its conclusion giving you little nibbles of closure on the way... this leaves all the answers really late.
And the ending is just hopeless. After all the high energy and whacky fun things turn ugly, lots of odd things happen and the book is over and I'm left scratching my head thinking "okay what happened there". Not a good way to finish a book that has (more than any other recently) made me genuinely laugh out loud a lot.
But I shouldn't grumble to much at a book that is stylishly written and handsomely cast. Lots of scenes (the dance before death, the paper aeroplane, the 'trio' of villains) stand out long after you've shoved it back on the shelf grumbling about being too thick to get the ending.
Crazy but a lot of FUN.
A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 14/8/02
(Please note that the back cover of this book contains so much information about the plot that reading it could almost be considered a spoiler itself. I have attempted to review this story without mentioning any major plot developments, even those that are freely available for viewing on the back of the book.)
I adored the beginning and middle sections of The Book of the Still. So enthralled was I by the writing in these parts, that I rushed through and finished the book in much less time that it usually takes me to get through the 249-288 pages of the modern EDA. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the ending was up to the high standards of the rest of the novel, which is more frustrating in a book that is great up until the end rather than a book that is lousy all the way through. But despite the problems with the ending, I still quite enjoyed the entire experience. There's a lot of good writing on display, and the story was told with a lot of panache.
There are a lot of fairly high level science fiction concepts present in the book, and they are all handled with so much care and ease that I had to do a little bit of thinking before I fully realized what was going on. It has a quick feel to it, with many of the set-pieces serving well as standalone little mini-adventures. But don't get the impression that this is a throw-away or a shallow book. It's deceptively slick, but there's a lot of very interesting stuff going on beneath the surface. The prose is written with confidence and manages to convey a surprising amount using fairly little. The setting is described very well, and the scenes set there were so interesting that I wish we had stayed on the initial planet for longer. The "Unnoticed" aliens mentioned on the back cover are an interesting idea that, thankfully, are fleshed out quite well. I was a bit worried that they would come across as a generic threat, but Paul Ebbs managed to make them interesting enough to motivate the plot without coming across as mere ciphers.
It took me a quite a bit of thinking to get to grips with the ending. After much consideration, I concluded that while it did make logical sense and every character had a motivation for acting, it just wasn't quite satisfying. For a story that had been ambling on in an enjoyable, laid-back sort of way to suddenly switch gears so drastically was something that I found very distracting. It was quite a mental shift needed on my part to adjust. Even after I had worked everything through, I still felt vaguely unsatisfied. The final pages do adequately conclude the plot, but I don't feel that it properly gave us a conclusion to the story. It left me with a solid feeling of, "Is that it?" and not in a good way.
The style of The Book of the Still is very entertaining. Each page pulled me in deeper, leaving me eager to see what was coming next. The ending doesn't quite work on all levels, and it feels rushed, but the whole of the book shouldn't be ignored because of those weaknesses. It's quite a fun book to read despite some of the deeper issues that it deals with, and the characters are an entertaining bunch. Just be prepared to have to do a bit of thinking to understand the end.
Four out of Five by Jamas Enright 19/11/02
Once again: don't read the blurb! This may come across as a bug-bear of mine, but in this case the blurb does give away information we don't find out until deep into the novel, and it also tells of events that have nothing whatsoever to do with the book. I thought I was safe when I was halfway through the book, but nope. Who writes these things?
Aside from all that, The Book of the Still I much liked. Although the ending gets a little confused, the story moves along nicely, events and turns in the plot coming thick and fast. The concepts Paul Ebbs presents, including the Book itself, are well thought out, and the chapter titles are a particular source of amusement.
The Doctor is a delight here, being in control even when captured and tortured (which is a cliché that must occur at least once in a Doctor Who novel now), although some of his motivations aren't well explained (if explained at all). There are several nice moments, revolving around where the Doctor finds out his actions are predetermined, that bring out the character so well. Frustration has become a central point to his character now, although now I think about it I wouldn't necessarily say that is a good thing.
Fitz gets a new love in this story, although this isn't your typical love interest. The explanation behind the love isn't well defined so I thought it carried on longer than it should have, but it did give Paul Ebbs an easy way of getting Fitz from one location to the next. This may seem a cheat, but it's a novel one, so I'm willing to let it go.
Anji has less of a role, and is mostly replaced by Rhian Salmond, a fact Anji isn't that happy with. In fact, Anji spends a lot of her time being annoyed with Rhian, which gives her an interesting character point, but it becomes the defining point here when she is so much more. I did like Rhian, an interesting substitute companion with her own part to play in events, but again the confusing end tells against her and her ultimate motivations. One of my favourite moments is her reaction to the Doctor freeing her from prison.
Carmodi Litian, I'll say right now, I didn't like. In fact, Paul Ebbs does make her rather unlikeable, and even Carmodi tells us herself we won't probably like her in the epilogue (no, I'm not revealing anything here, you have to read the book yourself to get this point). All this might be set up so that we do like her, or at least understand and forgive her, but I'm not going to (forgive that is, I can understand her reasons).
Darlow, Gimcrack and Svadhisthana are clearly the comic relief, but I had too much trouble telling who was whom (not helped by Anji's names for them). The aliens were extremely alien, but I found them, like Carmodi, to be ultimately just irritating in their own whiney ways.
A decent read, with much to recommend it, but the ending does take some sorting out.
A Review by John Seavey 20/3/03
The Book of the Still reminds me of no other debut novel in the history of the various ranges so much as Lawrence Miles' Christmas on a Rational Planet. Like Miles, Paul Ebbs brings so much energy, zest, and sheer swaggering charisma to the book that it feels like something new and ground-breaking, even though it's "just" a first novel. Both of them are flawed, as first-time authors tend to be, but both of them have a prose style that doesn't let even a single passage go by without trying to make it something special, something exciting, something that's never been done in Who before. It's that energy that lifts the book up to one of the better first novels I've read, and that makes me proud to be a fan of Doctor Who.
Right from the beginning, which Ebbs entitles the "Obligatory Spectacular Opening", we get a sense of amazing energy. The Doctor attempts to steal the eponymous Book through a plan that involves free-falling from orbit, a scene of dazzling excitement that sets the pace for the book to follow. We get lots of fun -- Anji stuck in a Bollywood movie, the Doctor trying to learn how to dance on a doomed planet, and Fitz... well, OK, Fitz does spend much of his time acting like a brainwashed idiot, which doesn't do wonders for him, but it's still a good book. The whole thing clips along with sparkling dialogue and a fascinating plot.
It's not flawless by any means -- the trio of villains who dog the Doctor throughout the book outstay their welcome by chapter two, and Carmodi is phenomenally irritating (although perhaps intentionally so). And I still couldn't tell you what Carmodi lost because of the Doctor, and why she believes the Doctor's responsible for it. But this was one of those rare times when I didn't care about the "whats" of a book because I was having so much fun with the "hows". I just had a blast reading this, and I can't wait for Paul Ebbs' next novel. If Lawrence Miles proves to be an accurate model, it'll be even better.
The Book of the Sparkling by Robert Smith? 24/4/03
The Book of the Still. It's a lifeline for stranded time travellers. It's the object of everybody's attention. It exists in all time periods. You sign your name in it and get instantly rescued. This is huge, mythic stuff.
So it's a shame it's all so mundane.
Given the central idea at its core, this should have been a world-shattering novel (well, it does have a little of that in it, but there's a lame cop-out involved). Plotwise, though, it's decidedly humdrum. There's far too much faffing about on Lebenswelt instead of dealing with the ramifications of what the Book actually is. And when we do get to it, it's taken apart and turned into a spaceship, which is surprising, yes, but nevertheless completely undoes the mythic nature of the Book itself.
That said, the Obligatory Spectacular Opening nicely lives up to its own, getting us off to a great start. It's all very Transit-like at first, which is great, suggesting that this will be a mould-breaking, ball-busting thriller of a novel. Unfortunately, the specific mould that needs to be broken right now is the EDA limiter on standout novels. For a while, this looked like it might be the holy grail the EDAs have been searching for, namely a book that actually worked in every way. I'm fairly sure my feelings of disappointment stem from the fact that it couldn't live up to its opening, far more than the inherent inadequacies of the novel.
The rest of the Lebenswelt scenes are fairly uninspiring, with one (fairly important) exception that I'll come to in a moment. The mayor doesn't even get a name and the book doesn't seem sure if he's important enough to qualify for one or not.
The rest of the book hits us with some big ideas: like the Book of the Still itself, the Unnoticed are a much bigger idea than the novel wants to sustain, so they're progressively weakened as the story progresses. But they're still a fabulous and very different idea. It's a bit of a shame that the end up with the Darlow-Gimcrack-Svadhisthana origins that they do get. While this isn't a terribly idea by any means, it nevertheless seems to cheapen the initial effect that the Unnoticed have. I appreciate what the novel is trying to do, and why the Lebenswelt stuff is important, but I can't help but feeling there could have been a better way to fulfil the potential that's here.
Flying inside the pages of the Book of the Still to the photosphere of the sun is another pretty cool idea, but it does feel as if it's there just to be big. It's as though Jim Mortimore popped round to the Ebbs household halfway through and happened to mention that a couple of enormous ideas should be inserted somewhere.
However, there's one place where the book doesn't let us down and this is probably what saves the book: the prose. It's fantastic. Yes, it's rough and ready and keeps throwing in idiosyncratic turns of phrases that any sane editor would have trimmed... but it also works fabulously. Despite all my complaints above, I really enjoyed the experience of this book, almost always because of the actual writing. This is a true rarity for Doctor Who books, which don't go in for this sort of thing much, so it's extremely refreshing to find here.
And it's actually funny, as well, which helps no end. This is one of those novels that would probably work better as a dramatic reading by the author. There's a freshness to this book that goes a long way to making it feel far more special than it probably deserves to be.
This also helps the characterisation immensely. We've got a fairly small cast (the non-naming of the mayor shows that the book didn't want to get out of control with this... although if I had my say, he'd have turned out to be the origin of the Unnoticed, simply so no one would find out his true name), which means we get some actual character stuff with Carmodi and Rhian. They're... okay. I'm not sure what we get justifies the epilogue or the prologue, but it's enough to carry us through the novel. Rhian's pseudo-companion role isn't terribly inspiring until Anji turns up and starts making fun of her, which livens up the story immensely. Both Carmodi and Rhian have some decent twists waiting for them, which work quite well. I'm not crying out for a return appearance or anything, but I'm happy enough with what we do have.
I also really enjoyed Fitz's 'romance' with Carmodi. It's hilarious and a very amusing parody of just about every other EDA. I also like the way we're told straight up that he's been brainwashed, instead of leaving this revelation til the end.
I really liked the ending, though. I've heard that some people had problems with it, but I can't say I found it particularly confusing. The only bit that seems suspicious to me is Rhian's dad, who we very conveniently don't quite meet, so he's almost certainly someone we're familiar with. If we were supposed to guess who he was, then I'll admit to being stumped, but I don't think that was the intention.
Oh, but can I just say, using the Doctor as the assassin is not only brilliant, but for the first time ever that this sort of thing has been done, it actually works. On the other hand, the restoration of Antimasque is incredibly wet and I'm surprised the novel even stooped to that level. Oh well, one more for the mixed bag.
Overall, The Book of the Still is a bit of a mish-mash of experimental writing, some genuine surprises and a plot that continually underwhelms itself, given the nature of the setups it provides. Not living up to the mythicness of the Book of the Still itself is almost criminal. I sorely wish this were better than it is, as it has just the sort of boldness that the books could use in abundance, but on the other hand, I really enjoyed the skewed angle the prose came at. However, I'm confidently predicting that this book will age gracefully and by the time Finn Clark does his fifteenth readathon, we'll all be reevaluating it to high heaven, mark my words.
A Review by Dave Roy 21/2/04
The Book of the Still is a debut Dr. Who novel by Paul Ebbs. It's a cracking good debut, too. Marred only by a questionable ending, it's a fun ride until you get there. Even then, the ending is more "convenient" and confusing then outright bad.
Paul Ebbs has been involved with Who fandom for quite some time, but this is his first professional publication in the genre. At times, you can tell, as a bit of prose falls flat or a character seems a little off (or, even worse, pointless). However, you can also tell he's been a fan for a while now, as he glories in our favourite characters and tells a funny yet interesting tale using deep time-travel theories (especially paradoxes). The prose is not beautiful in an aesthetic sense, but it is a joy to read. He has a way of describing things in pop-culture concepts, especially when he's telling things from Anji's point of view. While this doesn't help if you don't understand the reference, it makes for a hilariously funny read when you do. Especially good is Anji's comparisons of Rhian to Daphne/Velma from Scooby Doo.
That's what Ebbs adds to the mix of the Eighth Doctor adventures. Humour. Sure, Trading Futures was a James Bond romp, but before that the book range has been deadly serious with an almost complete lack of the funny stuff. The Book of the Still does more than enough to compensate. The narration is very light, and the sections are very short and punchy, making for a quick read. I did get a bit annoyed at Anji's constant running-together of words ("ignorantstupidknuckledraggingsexuallyunconsciousthrowback" for example), but it was manageable, and perfectly showed her constant frustration at the whole situation.
In fact, Anji isn't the only one that Ebbs gets right. Fitz finally has a real romance (well, real to him, anyway) without the Doctor's involvement. While the romance itself may not be real, his reactions to it are. Unfettered by his long experience with the Doctor, we get to see Fitz as he would be if he wasn't being a cosmic hobo. Meanwhile, the Doctor himself is pretty good as well. He scrambles around manically trying to fix everything, being mysterious at times as well as unsure of himself (continuing the amnesia storyline that's been going through the Eighth Doctor books for awhile now). Watching these three characters interact with the others (they're not together much in this book) is a real treat.
Ebbs doesn't do quite as good a job with the other minor characters (some of them so minor that they don't even get names, just "mayor"). While Rhian is fine, I didn't really like Carmodi, which is a shame considering that she's the driving force for one of the plots in the novel. She's irritating, perhaps even more so because she writes the epilogue at the beginning of the book (yes, the beginning... don't ask) and practically begs the reader to not judge her too harshly. I'm sure part of my feelings about her were intentional on Ebbs's part, but we're not supposed to be so irritated by a character that we don't want to read more about her. Unfortunately, that was true of Carmodi.
Finally, we get to the ending. I won't spoil it here, but it basically makes the previous 250 pages meaningless. People speak of the reset button on Star Trek television shows. While The Book of the Still wasn't quite that bad (our characters are still affected by it), it positively reeked of this. This fact is all that saves it. On top of that, though, the ending is a bit confusing. I can't go into detail without spoiling it, but I'm still not sure I understand it.
All in all, The Book of the Still is a fun read that is well worth checking out by the discerning Dr. Who fan. Don't let the ending get to you, and maybe you'll understand it better than I did. If so, then you'll enjoy it even more. If not, then at least you'll have had a fun trip on the way there.