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August Books 7+8) [Doctor Who] Short Trips

7) Doctor Who Short Trips [2]: Companions, ed. Jacqueline Rayner
8) Doctor Who Short Trips [3]: A Universe of Terrors, ed. John Binns

Two impulse purchases of short stories set in the Doctor Who universe (of the first eight Doctors, ie up at and including the 1996 movie) by various hands. I bought the first one because I am myself fascinated by the companions (though I read very little fanfic); I bought the second purely because it has a story in it by jemck.

As with most themed collections, not every story is good and not every story fits in to the overall theme. But they are very attractively presented, and while I don't think they would convert non-fans to the cause, they will be entertaining reading for the fan.

The Companions volume is the more interesting, though also more variable. The spread of companions across the seventeen stories is interesting - two about Barbara Wright (and others where she features in the background), and another two about Adric. Most take the story of the companions after their time with the Doctor - most effectively, I think, the very first, "The Tip of the Mind" by Peter Anghelides, where the Third Doctor visits Zoe and of course is not recognised, the narrator being one of Zoe's work colleagues on her space station. I also liked the very last story, "The Long Night" by Allison Lawson, one of the Barbara Wright stories, although of course 23 November 1963 was a Saturday which made some of the details a bit unlikely. (But why did nobody proof-read Gary Russell's story, and put in a few more commas?)

Bringing elements of the horror genre into Doctor Who has been done before, if not always successfully. I didn't think that A Universe of Terrors stuck very strongly to its mandate, but I am a Doctor Who fan rather than a horror fan so didn't mind. jemck's story is a case in point - I loved her evocation of the Bodleian Library, which I suspect is one of our shared enthusiasms, but the story itself is sfnal rather than horrific. Two rather interesting tales featuring the First Doctor and Susan here, by Lance Parkin and Trevor Baxendale; some others that rather missed the mark. (And, for some reason, a set of limericks retelling the entire history of the Seventh Doctor; not especially horrific, unless, I suppose, you are one of those who regard that period as the nadir of the programme.)

I have another of these on the shelf - #6, Past Tense - and will probably end up buying the full set.

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