September 14

Doctor Who: Royal Blood – Una McCormack

Royal Blood“The Grail is a story, a myth! It didn’t exist on your world! It can’t exist here!”

The city-state of Varuz is failing. Duke Aurelian is the last of his line, his capital is crumbling, and the armies of his enemy, Duke Conrad, are poised beyond the mountains to invade. Aurelian is preparing to gamble everything on one last battle. So when a holy man, the Doctor, comes to Varuz from beyond the mountains, Aurelian asks for his blessing in the war.

But all is not what it seems in Varuz. The city-guard have lasers for swords, and the halls are lit by electric candlelight. Aurelian’s beloved wife, Guena, and his most trusted knight, Bernhardt, seem to be plotting to overthrow their Duke, and Clara finds herself drawn into their intrigue…

Will the Doctor stop Aurelian from going to war? Will Clara’s involvement in the plot against the Duke be discovered? Why is Conrad’s ambassador so nervous? And who are the ancient and weary knights who arrive in Varuz claiming to be on a quest for the Holy Grail…?

 

My thanks to BBC Books for a review copy of Royal Blood

The Doctor and Clara are back and, as we would expect, the TARDIS has landed them in uncomfortable surroundings once again. Varuz is a small city on the brink of ruin, a once-proud place it is falling into disrepair and the enemy forces are threatening, it seems one final conflict is coming and there is no escaping the fact that Varuz will fall.

The Duke (Aurelian) is trying to rally support for one last valiant push in a bid to save all that they hold dear, however, his wife and his closest allies are opposed to the idea.  Into this fraught situation lands the Doctor and Clara.  They are initially mistaken for the ambassadors from the opposing forces, however, the Duke appears convinced that the Doctor is actually a holy man who will bless his forthcoming attack – obviously the Doctor will provide no such blessing.

With the political wrangling in full swing a new element is thrown into the mix – the appearance of a number of ancient knights. They are on a long quest to find the Holy Grail and they believe their search will end in Varuz. The Doctor is far from convinced but how can he explain the appearance of the knights? These men are on a seemingly never-ending journey to find an item that the Doctor does not believe exists – why would they appear in Varuz at such a pivotal time in its history?

Royal Blood is a delight to read. There are many scenes ‘at court’ where Clara and the Doctor are caught up in the politics of Varuz. There are factions opposed to Auerlian’s planned war and Clara is asked to spy for one of the key players that oppose the Duke, something of a dilemma for Clara and Una McCormack brilliantly depicts Clara’s turmoil and her frustration at the Doctor’s apparent lack of concern about her predicament.

Royal Blood is one of three titles published by BBC Books this autumn. The stories are all linked and are described as a trilogy of adventures across time and space which follow the Doctor’s search for The Glamour.  Although I struggled to find a definitive reading order for the books I found Royal Blood the best place to start and the concept of The Glamour was well defined (and intriguing).

This was the first of the three Doctor Who releases I read and it started the trilogy brilliantly. Varuz is an enigma, the political manoeuvring kept me hooked and the Grail quest was unexpected yet a great addition. Another great addition to the Doctor Who range.

 

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February 26

Doctor Who : The History Collection

EIGHT CLASSIC ADVENTURES.
EIGHT UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS IN TIME.

The Witch HuntersBeing a Doctor Who fan in 2015 is amazing. The show we love is back in a primetime TV slot and the production values are beyond belief for those of us that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Also, the actors queuing up to appear alongside the dynamic leading man (all 4 of them since 2005) ensure high quality entertainment is guaranteed.

Beyond the TV show we have a huge range of toys, magazines, exhibitions, concerts and even kids pyjamas (last seen circa the Tom Baker era). But what we have always had are the Doctor Who Books…these are not a new phenomenon – they just required a little determination to track them down!

I am 40 years old. I read my first Doctor Who novel around 33 years ago – sorry I cannot be more exact but I didn’t realise at the time that it would be helpful to have recorded the date. The TV show was in full swing and loads of my pals watched it. I had seen Tom Baker become Peter Davison and I was OK with that (eventually).

English Way of DeathI also discovered that my local library stocked a decent collection of Doctor Who stories – all published by Target Books.   These novels usually came in at around the 120-150 pages and told the stories that had been broadcast by the BBC. Some of the stories I could remember watching with my parents but others told of a different Doctor – a ‘Dandy’, a ‘clown with a mop of hair’ or a stern, older man.   All were captivating…except some of the Hartnell books – they took real dedication.

Target novels kept me reading Doctor Who all through high school. I read the stories over and over again. Then came a slow trickle of VHS video releases of some of the classic Doctor Who stories. Names I had read about suddenly had faces and voices. My books took on a whole new depth – I read my Target books again.

Then in 1989 the show I loved was taken off the air. I waited patiently for its return.

Human NatureAnd waited.

And waited.

I worked Saturdays and school holidays in the largest bookshop in the Scottish Highlands. By virtue of its remote location it was a large and well-stocked shop. One day I noticed a familiar logo on the spine of a book in the Science Fiction section. Doctor Who New Adventures…new stories featuring the Doctor and taking place after the TV show had ended. It was 1991 and this was the start of an amazing publication run of brand new Doctor Who original stories.

The New Adventures run continued until the 1996 TV movie and the debut of Paul McGann. Along the way the monthly new 7th Doctor stories were joined by a range of Missing Adventures which told of Doctors 1-6. Sadly (for me) these books were sometimes tricky to find in Inverness and I had to resort to mail order – these were very much pre-internet days.

After the 1996 TV movie the new stories continued, Virgin had lost the licence and BBC Books took up the mantel with fantastic adventures wrapped in amazingly beautiful covers and supported by a high calibre of creative talent (most of whom I now follow on Twitter).

Dead of WinterTake a massive jump forward to 2015 and a new generation of Doctor Who fans are enjoying the rich legacy that comes with a show that has over 50 years of back story.   TV stations like Gold and The Horror Channel are beaming ‘classic’ episodes into our homes. Netflix have 7 years of ‘New’ Who to enjoy on demand. Yet the much loved books which spanned the long years between 1989 and 2005 have gone from bookshops and are now coveted by collectors.

 

 

 

Fortunately we now have The History Collection. BBC Books have reissued 8 volumes of past doctor adventures to give fans the chance to catch up on some of the stories that they may have missed. Amongst the collection are Paul Cornell’s Human Nature (originally a 7th Doctor story it became a 10th Doctor/Martha story featuring The Family of Blood – and some creepy scarecrows). Another popular title was The English Way of Death by Gareth Roberts which has also recently been made into an audio drama featuring Tom Baker.

A very important aside – head to www.Bigfinish.com to discover their amazing range of Doctor Who audio plays. They have produced a staggering collection of dramas which feature the 4th to 8th Doctors; along with all their companions and more than a few of their familiar enemies too.

The RoundheadsBack to the books.

If you enjoyed last year’s 12th Doctor novels from BBC Books then you will be pleased to hear that both James Goss and Justin Richards have titles included in The History Collection.

I remember particularly enjoying The Shadow In The Glass (Richards) which was a 6th Doctor story.   Fans of Sherlock may enjoy The Roundheads (a 2nd Doctor Story) which was written by the ridiculously talented Mark Gatiss. I would also single out The Witch Hunters by Steve Lyons as a great story, it is set in the village of Salem and features the original TARDIS crew of 1st Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara.

These books offer readers the chance to join the TARDIS crew on new adventures. They also allow an opportunity for new fans of The Doctor an insight into how the past Doctor’s behaved. If you have never seen the Second Doctor and Jamie in action then you are in for a treat!

The History Collection should be a welcome addition to any Doctor Who fan’s bookshelves. There are some brilliant stories for everyone to enjoy and I hope that BBC Books may consider raiding the archives for future releases. If I am allowed to submit some suggestions I have a shortlist!

The History Collection in Full:

THE WITCH HUNTERS – STEVE LYONS.

An adventure set in the 17th century Salem Witch Trials featuring the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell.

THE ROUNDHEADS – MARK GATISS
The Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, fights to keep history on course in the aftermath of the English Civil War.

AMORALITY TALE – DAVID BISHOP
Jon Pertwee plays the Third Doctor in 1950’s London, joined by his companion Sarah Jane Smith.

THE ENGLISH WAY OF DEATH – GARETH ROBERTS

A sweltering summer in London, Tom Baker features as the Fourth Doctor in this 1930’s adventure.

THE SHADOW IN THE GLASS – STEPHEN COLE AND JUSTIN RICHARDS
Colin Baker plays the Sixth Doctor in an adventure set partly in Second World War.

HUMAN NATURE – PAUL CORNELL
An adventure set in Britain on the eve of the First World War, featuring the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy.

This book was the basis for the Tenth Doctor television story Human Nature / The Family of Blood starring David Tennant.

THE STONE ROSE – JAC RAYNER
Roman adventure with David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, and his companion Rose Tyler.

DEAD OF WINTER– JAMES GOSS
Matt Smith is the Eleventh Doctor in this 18th century Italian adventure.

 

(all titles are available in good bookshops and through your online store of choice).

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December 4

Doctor Who: The Anti-Hero – Stella Duffy

The Anti-Hero
The Anti-Hero

The latest in the Doctor Who Time Trips series sees Stella Duffy taking the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe to the Museum of Alexandria.

Many moons ago I read an article where one of the Doctor Who authors explained that he found the Second Doctor the hardest to write for. This stuck with me and is always at the back of my mind when I read a Second Doctor story – particularly as the comedy double act of the Second Doctor  Jamie are probably one of the highlights from the show’s rich history. I don’t know if Stella Duffy found it hard to write this Second Doctor story but I can confirm the finished article is top quality.

Despite my love of the comedy dynamic duo, The Doctor and Jamie never travelled alone* and (during a Twitter chat) Stella Duffy emphatically drew my attention to the fact Zoe also features in The Anti-Hero. Now that I have finished the story I find that not only did Zoe feature but she plays a key role. No spoilers though!

What I immediately enjoyed about The Anti-Hero is that we spend time with the TARDIS crew before the adventure kicks off in full. Classic Who, with its weekly 4 or 6 part stories, had time to linger in the TARDIS setting up a story before the action began – this is somewhat lost in today’s tightly scripted single-part productions. What a delight to have The Anti-Hero open in traditional style and give the reader the chance to see The Doctor, Zoe and Jamie passing time while the TARDIS is in flight.

Some wonderful writing from Stella Duffy reveals Zoe’s observations of The Doctor. Zoe nailing the core of his character as she watches him bustle around the Console Room. A nod to a subsequent regeneration also provided me with a laugh out loud moment.

The Anti-Hero brings all the fun I would want from a Second Doctor story and the secrets within the Museum of Alexandria provided enjoyable and unexpected plot twists. Stella Duffy has delivered a very accessible addition to the Time Trips range, perfect for younger fans that may not have much experience of Troughton’s Doctor.

This range goes from strength to strength and The Anti-Hero is definitely one of the better books in the series.

 

*It is not CERTAIN that Jamie and the Doctor did not travel alone. Give some thought to the 6th Doctor Story The Two Doctors where Jamie and the Doctor appear and pair up with Peri and the 6th Doctor. Next run ‘Doctor Who Season 6B’ through your favourite search engine!

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November 24

Doctor Who: Lights Out – Holly Black

Lights Out
Lights Out

Published by Puffin as part of the 50th Anniversary series of Doctor Who short stories this is the 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi) getting caught up in an adventure while on a trip to get Clara a cup of coffee. Author Holly Black is probably best known as a co-creator of the Spiderwick Chronicles series but she turns in a cracking tale featuring our favourite Time Lord.

 

Thanks to Puffin and Netgalley for my review copy.

 

If you were to ask me for a list of my favourite things you would find Doctor Who, Coffee and Murder/Mysteries would feature in the top 10. As Lights Out is a Doctor Who story about a murder in an intergalactic spaceport famed for its coffee you can probably guess that this fan is a happy boy.

Holly Black has done a fantastic job capturing the feel of Capaldi’s Doctor. He quickly drafts in a companion (Clara is absent but name-checked) he explains they just need to make him look brilliant and then he sets about solving the murder which occurred while he was queuing for coffee.

Lights Out ticks along at a good pace, plenty of detail and background of the characters and an emotive ending which caught me off guard when the plot twisted in a way that I had not expected.

While not a fan of short stories (usually) I really enjoyed Lights Out and would love to see Holly Black take on a longer Doctor Who novel at some stage in the future. Short stories get short reviews but this is a great pick up.

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October 23

Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker

The Crawling Terror
The Crawling Terror

Gabby Nichols is putting her son to bed when she hears her daughter cry out. ‘Mummy there’s a daddy longlegs in my room!’ Then the screaming starts… Kevin Alperton is on his way to school when he is attacked by a mosquito. A big one. Then things get dangerous.

But it isn’t the dead man cocooned inside a huge mass of web that worries the Doctor. It isn’t the swarming, mutated insects that make him nervous.

With the village cut off from the outside world, and the insects becoming more and more dangerous, the Doctor knows that unless he can decode the strange symbols engraved on an ancient stone circle, and unravel a mystery dating back to the Second World War, no one is safe.

 

Many thanks to Ebury Publishing and Netgalley for providing a review copy.

 

Proper creepy monsters have arrived…or creepy-crawly monsters to be more accurate. The Crawling Terror brings a full quota of giant insects, beetles and a very well utilised Giant Spider.

There are touches of horror brilliance in Mike Tuckers latest Doctor Who offering. Villagers are falling victim to attacks from over-sized mosquito, a tunnel is filled with a giant web with a local farmer cocooned within (very dead) and there is a giant beetle stomping around the fields nearby. The opening third of the book builds a very tense atmosphere with many scenes played out during a dark and foggy night to crank the tension up several notches.

Now add in a local research laboratory where the locals believe that mad-scientists are conducting experiments on animals, a stone circle in the village (missing a stone) which rests on one of the Earth’s ley lines and cross link it to a Nazi experiment from WW2 which went badly wrong.

Finally we have the Doctor (Capaldi) and Clara arriving in a TARDIS that re-directed herself to drop them right in the middle of the action. Perfect Doctor Who manna for a fan.

Tucker does a great job of keeping the tension running high while balancing the development of a story which, as can be seen, has quite a few narrative threads to keep track of. The scene with the Doctor taking refuge from the Spider within an old farmhouse made the story for me.

Having now read all three 12th Doctor books from Ebury Press I can take a small step back and compare all 3 volumes as a collection. I understand that the books were written before the broadcast of Peter Capaldi’s first episode and I can see that the authors may have been slightly disadvantaged by this. I have read Mike Tucker’s previous Who novels (and many of Justin Richards books too) they can capture the essence of a Doctor so that you know you are reading about Tom Baker or Peter Davison…they nail the traits of each regeneration.

However, writing for a Doctor you have not seen is much harder and I felt that Silhouette (Richards) and The Crawling Terror were ‘Doctor Who’ stories rather than ‘Peter Capaldi Doctor Who’ stories.   Not to say that I did not enjoy them…they benefited from having a companion to ensure it was clear WHICH Doctor was in action.

A special mention, therefore, goes to The Blood Cell by James Goss as I felt that the argumentative Doctor in that story could only have been Season 8’s Peter Capaldi.

Having read my way through the launch of the Virgin Publishing’s range of New Adventures, the Past Doctor Adventures and then the whole of the BBC books range that came after the 1996 TV Movie I have seen the high and the low points of Doctor Who written adventures. The trio of The Crawling Terror, Silhouette and The Blood Cell are a strong start to what I hope will be a long run of books. When can I get the next ones?

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October 9

Doctor Who: Silhouette – Justin Richards

silhouette

 

“Vastra and Strax and Jenny? Oh no, we don’t need to bother them. Trust me.”

Marlowe Hapworth is found dead in his locked study, killed by an unknown assailant. This is a case for the Great Detective, Madame Vastra.

Rick Bellamy, bare-knuckle boxer, has the life drawn out of him by a figure dressed as an undertaker. This angers Strax the Sontaran.

The Carnival of Curiosities, a collection of bizarre and fascinating sideshows and performers. This is where Jenny Flint looks for answers.

How are these things connected? And what does Orestes Milton, rich industrialist, have to do with it all? As the Doctor and Clara joint the hunt for the truth they find themselves thrust into a world where nothing and no one are what they seem.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House/Ebury Publishing for the review copy.

Justin Richards is a name that should be very familiar to readers of Doctor Who novels. He has penned some of the best stories I read while the Doctor was on his extended break between 1989 and 2005. I highly recommend The Burning which also has one of the best covers ever), Grave Matter (6th Doctor and Peri story that I remember enjoying very much) and he also contributes to the Big Finish audio range – Time of the Daleks being another personal favourite. Quite simply, Justin Richards is an accomplished Doctor Who writer.

Silhouette maintains his high standard. The Doctor and Clara are in Victorian London, as we see from the introduction they are once again joined by Strax, Vastra and Jenny. So with the gang all in place attention turns to matters at hand. Mr Marlowe Hapworth dead in his study – a locked room murder as there is no possible way that he could have stabbed himself between the shoulder blades while sitting at his desk.

Investigations soon lead The Doctor to the local sideshow and the Carnival of Curiosities. I found Richards painted a vivid description of a damp and foggy London and the Carnival was brilliantly described giving the feeling of colourful splashes in the gloomy city.

The Burning and its stunning cover
The Burning and its stunning cover

The titular Silhouette is a master at the art of shadow plays and her origami birds (an art not known in London at the time the story is set) enchant the carnival audiences – her skills seem almost unworldly. Certainly The Doctor is keen to learn how she weaves her magic.

As always I will not spoil the plot lines but there were some lovely touches sprinkled throughout the story – Silhouettes origami birds are as dangerous as they are pretty. Strax makes friends with the carnival strongman and Vastra encounters a very familiar face.

When the reveal of the villain arrived I was delighted to find that I had been well off the mark with my guesses as to where the story was heading. The motivation for the murders was explained and I enjoyed the twist which defined how victims had been selected and what was taken from them that would benefit the bad guys…no clues.

In the end I can honestly say that the 12th Doctor range is still looking good. I have now read two books of the initial three that are available with just The Crawling Terror to go. The Blood Cell still stands tall as my favourite as James Goss really captured Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. But with The Crawling Terror to come next there is still fun to be had.

 

 

 

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September 28

Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Notebooks – Edited Justin Richards

Many people know about William Shakespeare’s famous encounter with the Doctor at the Globe

Shakespeare Notebooks
Shakespeare Notebooks

Theatre in 1599. But what few people know (though many have suspected) is that it was not the first time they met.

Drawn from recently-discovered archives, The Shakespeare Notebooks is the holy grail of Bard scholars: conclusive proof that the Doctor not only appeared throughout Shakespeare’s life, but had a significant impact on his writing. In these pages you’ll find early drafts of scenes and notes for characters that never appeared in the plays; discarded lines of dialogue and sonnets; never-before-seen journal entries; and much more.

From the original notes for Hamlet (with a very different appearance by the ghost) and revealing early versions of the faeries of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to strange stage directions revised to remove references to a mysterious blue box, The Shakespeare Notebooks is an astonishing document that offers a unique insight into the mind of one of history’s most respected and admired figures. And also, of course, William Shakespeare.

 

 

Thanks to Netgalley for providing a review copy.

 

While Doctor Who continues to show every Saturday night I am indulging my reading list with as many Who books as I can. The Shakespeare Notebooks is one of the more unusual Doctor Who books I have read and I found that I could only read it in short bursts rather than a prolonged sitting. This may be a limitation of the reader rather than the source material, however, I personally found the collection of short stories and excerpts from plays lent themselves more readily to quick reads.

There is no doubting that this is a clever collection. The Doctor and various companions pop up across a myriad of Shakespeare plays as do characters such as The Master and Shakespeare himself. Favourite plays are reworked and the Doctor will cameo and interact with the players injecting his unique solutions to their problems. Romeo and Juliet gets a novel ending, Hamlet and the Fendahl? Brilliant concepts are played out in true Shakespearean dramatic prose.

Personally I found the Macbeth reworking was my favourite contribution but this may be due to my familiarity with the source material. This may be where the success of this book will live or die – the better your knowledge of the Shakespeare plays and Sonnets the more you are going to get from The Shakespeare Notebooks.

I read a digital copy of the Notebook but have also seen the physical book. I would suggest that the actual physical copy of this book is the way to get the most from this collection, there are many illustrations and footnotes that come across best in an actual book – footnotes are not the Kindle’s friend.

In brief – one for the Doctor Who fans who will enjoy the random appearances of several favourite characters. Shakespeare fans may be slightly appalled, unless they also enjoy Gallifrey’s favourite son. One for the collectors or a good Christmas gift.

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September 12

Doctor Who: The Blood Cell – James Goss

An asteroid in the furthest reaches of space – the most secure prison for the most dangerous of

The Blood Cell
The Blood Cell

criminals. The Governor is responsible for the cruellest murderers so he’s not impressed by the arrival of the man they’re calling the most dangerous criminal in the quadrant. Or, as he prefers to be known, the Doctor.

But when the new prisoner immediately sets about trying to escape, and keeps trying, the Governor sets out to find out why.

Who is the Doctor and what’s he really doing here? And who is the young woman who comes every day to visit him, only to be turned away by the guards?

When the killing finally starts, the Governor begins to get his answers.

 

My thanks to Netgalley for providing a reading copy

With Doctor Who back on our screens every Saturday night it is great to see BBC are keeping the books going with brand new original adventures. Particularly pleasing is that the new books feature Peter Capaldi as The Doctor – show of good faith in the writers that their interpretations of the new Doctor will be consistent with the show.

As I write we are 3 shows into the Capaldi run and I am very pleased with what I have seen thus far. It also means that as I read Blood Cell I could easily imagine The Doctor and Clara playing out the story – major Kudos to James Goss on this front as I really enjoyed his depiction of Capaldi’s Doctor.

The story its-self takes a less conventional approach. The Doctor has been arrested and is imprisoned in a secure prison in deep space. He is Prisoner 428 in the eyes of the Prison Governor and it is through the eyes of the Governor that we see the whole story unfold. The book is told in the first person from the Governor’s perspective.

The Doctor is a mysterious character at the best of times but to the Governor he is a puzzle, an irritation and a liability. The reader gets to enjoy seeing The Doctor get one up on his captors at every opportunity. While the reader knows the Doctor is most likely in a prison because it suited his purposes, the Governor has no idea that his problem prisoner is actually working in everyone’s best interests.

The reasons for Prisoner 428’s incarceration are not immediately clear but are revealed as the story unfolds. The Doctor’s travelling companion, Clara, is more of a cameo than a featured character but her apparent squabbles with the TARDIS provide some light relief as the tension in the story starts to ramp up.

This is the first of the novels I have read featuring Capaldi’s Doctor. Blood Cell was a strong start and I want to read more.

Some unexpected items included in the 100 objects.
Some unexpected items included in the 100 objects.

 

 

As an aside I ran a quick check on the other books written by James Goss and I noticed he co-authored one of my favourite Doctor Who books Doctor Who History of the Universe in 100 Objects. That too is highly recommended for fans.

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September 6

Doctor Who (Time Trips) The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller – Joanne Harris

Struggling to get back to UNIT HQ, his body being destroyed by radiation, the Third Doctor arrives

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Time Traveller
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Time Traveller

in the most perfect English village, where everyone is happy. But is he really on Earth, or somewhere far more strange? As his body weakens, the Doctor and the Queen of the village begin to unravel the truth.

 

This is the latest book in the Time Trips series – a new range of novellas featuring The Doctor that are to be written by ‘high profile commercial and literary authors’. Joanne Harris more than meets these credentials with a series of successful novels on her CV (Blackberry Wine, Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes to name just a few).

Loneliness tells a story of The Doctor as he reaches the end of his third incarnation (as portrayed by Jon Pertwee). Fans may be keen to learn that the story fits into the last 5 minutes of Planet of The Spiders – just before The Doctor falls out of his TARDIS and regenerates.

Getting the essence of The Doctor can sometimes be elusive but Joanne Harris captured the ‘Dandy’ element of Pertwee’s Doctor perfectly and I had a great sense of nostalgia as I remembered how much I enjoyed the time when Pertwee was the dashing hero.

Travelling alone on his way back from Metabelis III the TARDIS is diverted to an idyllic English Village. He finds himself under the care of the Queen who is very keen that he ask no questions, tries to blend in and that he keeps his head down. Naturally The Doctor is not keen to take a passive role and trouble ensues.

I don’t want to share any more detail of this story as the impact of this book is in the reading. Joanne Harris seems to have written Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller with the intent of triggering a specific response – if my experience is replicated by others she has succeeded.

I was curious about the Time Trips stories as I have only read a couple of the books thus far. Jenny Colgan wrote Into The Nowhere which featured the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) and Clara – it is also very good! So how did Joanne Harris get Jon Pertwee? Through the wonder of Twitter I was able to pose that very question to Joanne Harris and she confirmed that she had a free choice of Doctor and she wanted the Third Doctor. Seeing how the story unfolded I now know why her selection was so perfect.

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller was released on 4th September and should be purchased immediately!

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August 26

Adventures With The Wife In Space: Living With Doctor Who – Neil Perryman

Love the cover on this one.
Love the cover on this one.

As previously disclosed I have been a Doctor Who fan for around 35 of my 40 years. During this time I have soaked up all the facts, stories and trivia I could get my hands on and I fully understand that this is not a pastime that everyone embraces. My wife has *mainly* tolerated my Gallifreyan distractions but does tend to voice disapproval when collections (VHS tapes, DVDs , books etc) start to take up too much room.

Since the TV show has come back she will sometimes sit and watch new episodes with me and has even expressed an opinion or asked questions on some occasions. After 20 years I seem to be wearing down her resistance.

Converting a non-Who fan to enjoying the show is tricky, especially when we recognise that the first 26 years of source material is not as slick as the post reboot shows. Hats off to Neil Perryman who managed to persuade his wife Sue to sit through every episode broadcast between 1963 and 1989.

As they watched the shows together Neil, as a lifelong fan, watched Sue’s reactions and recorded them on his blog. He now presents the whole experience in his highly entertaining book Adventures With The Wife In Space. Adventures is possibly the most fun reading experience I have had for many a month and being a fan of the show is not a pre-requisite to enjoying the book.

For a fan of the show it is a fascinating insight into what a non-fan picks out from an episode when they are not hung up on continuity or plot threads. One such example is Sue’s outrage when The Doctor steals Jo’s cup of tea…how very dare he?

Neil’s narrative around persuading Sue to watch all the shows is hilarious. Highlights were exaggerating the length of time it may take to watch Jon Pertwee’s run, horror at Sue’s lack of respect for a fan-favourite ‘Classic’ episode and the internet response to Neil and Sue’s family members joining in the experience.

It is a book about two people watching television and it is wonderful. Not convinced? Think Gogglebox in a paperback*

While the focus is around watching the classic Doctor Who shows we also get to spend time with Neil and Sue as they contend with day to day life and how they juggle this around watching Doctor Who. This book is as much about the writers as it is about the TV show.

A family tale about a family, heart-warming and fun to read.

*Disclaimer – I have never (nor will I ever) watch Gogglebox. I am told that it is a show that records people watching television. The comparison seemed apt.

 

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