DOCTOR WHO – TIME TRIPS (THE COLLECTION)

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BOOK REVIEW: DOCTOR WHO – TIME TRIPS (THE COLLECTION) / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 5TH

Time Trips was a series of short Doctor Who eBooks released throughout 2014, authored by successful novelists with a Doctor of their choice. All eight are now available in a handy hardcover, along with a bonus Twelfth Doctor tale.

The collection opens strongly with A. L. Kennedy’s The Death Pit, a hilarious adventure in which the Fourth Doctor tracks a dangerous creature around an Arbroath spa hotel. As well as the finest description of a man being eaten by a golf bunker you’ll ever read, there’s a great one-off companion in frustrated receptionist Bryony.

In Jenny Colgan’s Into the Nowhere, the Eleventh Doctor and Clara land on an unknown planet. Though not all the imagery works (a certain biblical metaphor doesn’t make much sense), the dangers they face are magnificently spooky, including animated skeletons and sinister woods.

Nick Harkaway’s Keeping Up With The Joneses sees the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS hit by a temporal mine and the appearance of an enigmatic character who resembles Christina de Souza. Despite some laugh-out-loud funny insights into this Doctor’s mind, the ambitiously grand plot becomes confusing.

Another Tenth Doctor adventure, Cecilia Ahern’s The Bog Warrior, is the weakest of the lot. A weird Cinderella-in-space story featuring a beautiful princess and a superweapon disguised as a pair of shoes, it’s full of awkward clichés, the dialogue is clunky, and the Doctor acts horribly out of character.

The Third Doctor also gets two goes; in Trudi Canavan’s Salt of the Earth, he and Jo investigate an evil salt in Australia. It’s a nicely plotted mystery with a lovely sequence from the perspective of a dog.

And in Joanne Harris’ The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller, he finds himself in an Oxfordshire village with a suspiciously childish parade. The reveal stretches suspension of disbelief but is nonetheless heartbreaking.

The Sixth Doctor and Peri meet Elizabethan astronomer John Dee in Jake Arnott’s A Handful of Stardust, but the Master shows up with a characteristically silly plan. Despite an overly generic plot, it’s a fun romp that feels like a Tennant-era celebrity historical.

Stella Duffy’s The Anti-Hero is another historical tale, in which the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe visit the Musaeum of Alexandria, circa 60AD. The setting is vividly captured and there’s an intriguing mystery revolving around the Muses – though it’s let down by a rushed climax.

Finally, the new Twelfth Doctor and Clara story, Jenny Colgan’s A Long Way Down, revolves neatly around its gimmick – as the Doctor falls towards a planet, the writing spirals around the book’s dust jacket, which you must remove to get the whole story.

Overall, this collection’s a mixed bag, with too many disappointments and the problem of some Doctors getting two stories while others are left out. But, thanks to a few standouts, you won’t regret getting onboard for these trips.
 


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