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I picked up some sort of bug on my travels last week, and though I struggled into work on Thursday and Friday have spent today pretty much horizontal and not really operating at top speed. So, I thought, why not prepare for this evening's episode by re-reading the two Doctor Who novels actually set in the Wild West; and found that they were about at the right level.

I said in my earlier post that Doctor Who - The Gunfighters, by Donald Cotton, is one of the best of the Target novelisations, and I'm glad to report that it stands up to re-reading; Cotton tells it in the character of journalist Ned Buntline, reporting Doc Holliday's account of events many years after the fact, and presents what is actually a fairly close mapping of the original script (including the "Doctor Who?" joke) in a passable pastiche of the appropriate style. It's funnier than the original, with some fairly minor characters given actual personalities - Johnny Ringo's fascination with classic literature, Phineas Clancy's desperate attempts at appropriate metaphors involving animals. On the other hand, there's almost no characterisation for the three regular characters, the exception being, oddly enough, Dodo, of whom we discover that "she had learned all about poker at her finishing school". Here, the Doctor actually atrts the OK Corral shootout by accident (in the original he is far fom the scene). I wrongly reported in my previous write-up that the "Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon" is omitted; it is all here, in fact, and that's fine with me.

I realised as I picked up The Peacemaker, by James Swallow, that I had actually only listened to a seriously abridged audio version rather than reading the actual book previously. The plot is the least exciting part of it - it's basically an alien intrusion into a historical setting, which has been pretty much the standard Who historical story since The Time Warrior. However, the fact that one of the competing alien presences has become associated with a local healer allows some development of Martha's own background and ambitions, and to a lesser extent on the Doctor himself as healer. And the book gains in terms of drama by restricting the alien threat to just the local area, and eventually to just the Doctor and Martha. There are also lots of continuity references both to New Who and to appropriate bits of Old Who - and there is mention of Battle Tardises, which is a rare intrusion of a Big Finish invention into New Who, though the context is the Doctor's very New Who memory of the Time War. The abridgement, as far as I remember, omitted a rather silly opening chapter set on a far future Hollywood planet.

Doctor Who - The Gunfighters has no non-white characters at all, as far as we can tell, and fails the Bechdel test (Kate and Dodo do have several conversations, but always about a man, which is an interesting illustration of the point of the test). The Peacemaker has Martha and a single Native American character (who gets killed off). It passes the Bechdel test with a conversation between Martha and the local schoolteacher about local history and fashion, at the start of Chapter 3.

There is considerable variation in the popularity and ratings of these and the other Western Who stories between LibraryThing and Goodreads, though I guess this reflects small smaple size more than anything else:
LibraryThingGoodreads
total ownersavge ratingtotal reviewsavge rating
The Peacemaker1563.513763.62
Doctor Who - The Gunfighters1023.00373.43
The Runaway Train192.561783.46
A Town Called Fortune83.6772.57
Freakshow33.00133.00

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