DOCTOR WHO: STAR TALES / AUTHORS: STEVE COLE, PAUL MAGRS, JENNY T. COLGAN, JO COTTERILL, TREVOR BAXENDALE, MIKE TUCKER / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 5TH
You can’t travel through history for two thousand years without bumping into a few famous faces and the Doctor sure has met several celebs over the course of their travels in the TARDIS. Even more frequently, though, the Time Lord likes to namedrop a famed friend we’ve never seen them meet on screen. So what happened in these undocumented adventures?
That’s the question that Doctor Who: Star Tales sets out to answer. A collection of six short stories, each tale is inspired by a throwaway line from 2018’s series 11 in which the Doc referenced a historical figure. As such, the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends are very much the stars of this anthology, though the odd other incarnation of our hero does show up now and again.
The book opens with Chasing the Dawn by Jenny T. Colgan, featuring Amelia Earhart in a story that sports a neat wraparound narrative. And you don’t need to be told who stars in Jo Cotterill’s Einstein and the Doctor and Steve Cole’s Who-Dini, both of which are enjoyable yarns.
The final two entries are notable for being connected, with The Pythagoras Problem by Trevor Baxendale leading into Mission of the KaaDok by Mike Tucker, which features Audrey Hepburn. The Doctor’s sunglasses prove to be the key element here…
The best of the collection, though, has to be the second story, Paul Magrs’ Elvis-centric That’s All Right, Mama, which - typically for the author - is an imaginative, witty ride that also sews in some real poignancy and emotion. If you’ve ever wanted the Doctor to meet the King, this is the story for you.
There might be a clear standout, but there is a solid consistency to the quality of all the stories in this collection, with no bad apple spoiling the bunch. Like the best historical episodes of the show, you’ll be both entertained by Doctor Who: Star Tales and likely come away having learned a few things, too.