Review: Doctor Who – 11 Doctors, 11 Stories / Author: Various / Publisher: Puffin / Release Date: November 21st
Although the BBC have been reviving the past Doctors with novels like Harvest of Time and The Wheel of Ice, certain Doctors have not seen print in new stories for many years. That is why it’s good that Puffin decided to launch a range of eBooks (one story per Doctor from January to November) to celebrate the Doctor’s half-century. These have been collected into one hefty tome that won’t fit through your letterbox.
The stories themselves make for rather light reading, though this is due to pace rather than length (as all total around 40-60 pages). The style of the stories does make them enjoyable for kids and adults alike, however, which is a good thing when you consider Who’s cross-generational appeal.
Nothing’s perfect (least of all Doctor Who), so there are a few niggles with certain parts of the stories. The Third Doctor story The Spear of Destiny contains some rather unwieldy infodumps about the UNIT years. It’s probably a necessary evil due to the fact that a lot of their target audience won’t be familiar with the Third Doctor’s tenure but we can’t help but feel that there must have been a smoother way to integrate them into the story. And we nearly hurled the book across the room when we read that Eoin Colfer put his Gnommish swear word “D’Arvit” in the mouth of the First Doctor. We cannot imagine such a word coming from Hartnell’s Doctor, not least because he would probably flub it. As Adrian Mole once said of ‘eleventy’, it feels like an invented word too far.
Bearing that in mind, this collection has something for everyone, and a few of the stories feature the villain most associated with that tenure. For example, The Ripple Effect (Malorie Blackman) gives us the Daleks, although not quite as we’re used to seeing them. On the other hand, our favourite story is Derek Landy’s Tenth Doctor story, The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage which only has traces of previous villains. The story is a character assassination of a certain breed of ‘children go on adventures’ schlock that we all read as kids. It’s hugely entertaining and arguably worth the price of admission alone.
However unlikely it is that it will be someone’s treasured childhood book, this will no doubt be quite an appreciated gift at Christmas time, and quite a good way of celebrating the anniversary to boot. We can’t help but wonder what would have happened if this had been explicitly aimed at adults, though. What wonders we might have seen.