Book Review – Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor
  • Authors: James Peaty, Jody Houser
  • Artists: Iolanda Zanfardino, Pasquale Qualano, Brian Williamson, Dijjo Lima (Colorist), Rachael Stott (Artist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
  • Line:  13th Doctor Prequel
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Gabby Gonzalez, Cindy Wu, Alice Abiefune, Bill Potts
  • Collection Date: 2019
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/20/2019

**Spoiler Alert** The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor consists of three short stories, one each with the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors and some interstitial pages which directly lead into the first Thirteenth Doctor graphic novel. The graphic novel is also published by Titan Comics who publish a number of tie-in graphic novels to the British Doctor Who television series produced by the BBC.

The first story features the Tenth Doctor, as played on the television series by David Tennant, and his companions Gabby Gonzales and Cindy Wu. The TARDIS lands on a spaceship and the crew step outside only to have a man run right into the TARDIS exterior walls. He yells, “You idiots, you’ve killed me,” only to have a ghostly figure zap the man and kill him. The other crew on the spaceship arrive and take the Doctor and his companions to the control center of the ship. The Doctor tells them he’s with Earthcorp Rescue and finds out the ship is a “ghost ship”, a retired ship put back in service after budget cuts. The Doctor finds this unlikely as their “mission” is to explore an already explored and mapped galaxy. The Doctor is quickly proven right as one of the crew attacks the remaining members and the ghostly figures return and attack. It turns out the ship is on a weapons test. The weapon takes a person’s “aura” and turns it against them to kill that person. Earthcorp plans on using it to kill the indigenous species on planets they want to colonize. The Doctor heads off to the ship’s engine room to stop the weapon, while Gabby and Cindy take the remaining living crew member, Capt. Kelly, to the TARDIS. The Doctor is able to shut down the weapon, and then he returns her to Earth in the TARDIS. Captain Kelly vows to change Earthcorp’s ways.

The Eleventh Doctor and Alice land the TARDIS in 19th Century San Francisco, but the town is filled with anachronistic robots. The Doctor and Alice investigate and find a robot butler at a home – which is startled and kills its owner. The police arrive and the Doctor, the police officer, and Alice take the TARDIS to the harbor. But then the police officer also turns out to be a robot. The Doctor investigates the man who introduced the robots to San Francisco, but the battle drone robots kill him before the Doctor can find out much. The Doctor and Alice are confronted with the robot leader, who is mildly more intelligent than the robots. The Doctor manages to disable the spaceship that controls the robots and they become harmless. He and Alice leave.

The Twelfth Doctor and Bill Potts are in the TARDIS when the Doctor receives a message from Kate Stewart. He arrives in London and sees the city is filled with strange creatures. Kate barely has time to talk to the Doctor before there’s another attack and she’s frozen in time. But the Doctor has an inkling of what’s going on. He soon confronts the Kar-yn, species that had the ability to turn dreams into reality, but when their planet arrived at the end of its lifecycle, they sought to extend their lifespan by creating a memetic archive. A young man on Earth found the archive and activated it. The Doctor confronts the Kar-yn, telling them that instead of preserving their culture they only preserved the death of their planet – a death they were now bringing to Earth. This reverses the Kar-yn’s strategy and saves Earth and London. The young man who found the archive is trapped in his own dream world, a diner where he meets a waitress named Karen.

The interstitial pages consist of a hand reaching out of some type of portal for help, but the Tenth and Twelfth Doctor both fail to grab the hand. The Eleventh Doctor doesn’t even notice the hand or the portal. This mystery will be solved in the next graphic novel, the first to feature the Thirteenth Doctor.

I enjoyed this short graphic novel. All three short stories were good. Recommended.

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Book Review – Doctor Who: The Many Lives of Doctor Who

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Many Lives of Doctor Who
  • Authors: Richard Dinnick
  • Artists: Mariano LaClaustra, Giorgia Sposito, Brian Williamson, Arianna Florean, Claudia Ianniciello, Iolanda Zanfardino, Neil Edwards, Pasquale Qualano, Rachael Stott, Sarah Jacobs (Letterer), John Roshell (Letterer), Fer Centurion (Inker), Color-Ice (Colorist), Carlos Cabera (Colorist), Adele Matera (Colorist), Dijjo Lima (Colorist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist)
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: First Doctor, Second Doctor, Third Doctor, Fourth Doctor, Fifth Doctor, Sixth Doctor, Seventh Doctor, Eighth Doctor, War Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, River Song, Twelfth Doctor, Ian, Barbara, Susan, Jamie, Polly, Ben, Sarah Jane Smith, Romana II, Tegan, Nyssa, Turlough, Peri, Ace, Josie Day, Jack, Rose, Alice, Bill Potts, Thirteenth Doctor
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/19/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Doctor Who The Many Lives of Doctor Who” is a series of vignettes and short stories, one per Doctor, plus a War Doctor Story, a story with River Song, and a few pages with the 13th Doctor. Each of the stories adds to the idea of the Doctor regenerating into who she will be, for example, the number 13 comes up several times, though in the Thirteenth Doctor’s pages she mentions she isn’t actually the 13th Doctor. The Fifth Doctor story as the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa, and Turlough in the cloisters on Gallifrey where they are supposed to be chasing down a renegade Time Lord. But when they find him, he talks the Doctor into helping him use some Gallifreyan tech so he can regenerate. The Doctor agrees, and the other Time Lord regenerates into a woman. We also see both the fourth Doctor, with Romana and the Seventh Doctor, with Ace, solving a problem by meeting someone earlier, which they will do after they did it. The graphic novel itself is very short, and some of the vignettes are only a few pages, while others are full, albeit, short stories. I enjoyed this graphic novel though, and it whetted my appetite for the next two graphic novels in Titan Comics 13th Doctor series. The only flaw in the book is it’s almost too short. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Book Two

  • Title: Doctor Who The Lost Dimension Book Two
  • Authors: Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, George Mann, Cavan Scott
  • Artists: Ivan Rodriguez, Wellington Diaz, Rachael Stott, Mariano LaClaustra, Anderson Cabral, Marcelo Salaza, Fer Centurion, Thiago Ribeiro, Mauricio Wallace, Carlos Cabrera, Rod Fernandes, Mony Castillo, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: Fourth Doctor, Eighth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Romana II, Rose, Gabby, Cindy, Alice, Nardol, Bill, Cameos by other Doctors and Companions
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/27/2019

Titan Comics’ The Lost Dimension Book Two is the second volume in this series, which concludes the story. This volume opens with the Fourth Doctor as played on the BBC series Doctor Who by Tom Baker and Romana II in the TARDIS, but instead of materializing the TARDIS is caught between two transmat beams. When the Doctor and Romana exit the TARDIS they are confronted with Krotons, from the Second Doctor story, “The Krotons”, but these Krotons are considerably more dangerous. The other ship is crewed by Quarks from the Second Doctor story, “The Dominators”. Soon a spaceship appears from the Ogron Confederation of Planets and tries to take over. The Doctor soon realises that all of these new invaders are from other universes, universes without the Daleks. He and Romana manage to escape in the TARDIS after convincing the new invaders to leave the universe with the Daleks in it.

Meanwhile, Dr. River Song and her graduate student discover a lost colony of Silurians who are about to be destroyed by an asteroid crashing into their planetoid. Things do not go well.

The Ninth, Tenth, and Twelfth Doctors meet up in Australia while investigating the infection that turns humans into automatons saying, “peace”. They realize the Doctors TARDISes are all linked and that several versions of the Doctor have already been lost in the white void universe. The Eighth Doctor also arrives. The Ninth, Tenth and Twelfth Doctor use Jenny’s Bowship to investigate the White Void that is taking over everything. The Eighth Doctor stays behind to try to protect the humans on Earth from the infection of the Void. The three Doctors in the bow ship find at the center of the Void, an ancient TT capsule, and the Eleventh Doctor. The time capsule is eating everything in sight, consuming whole galaxies. The three Doctors are able to talk to the Eleventh Doctor, who needs help. Together the Doctors manage to fix things for the Time Capsule (ancient TARDIS) and reverse the damage. Everyone is then safe and able to go home.

The Lost Dimension Book Two is a good conclusion to the story. Book One had introduced the Eleventh Doctor’s journey to Gallifrey, and Book Two focuses on solving that mystery and concluding the story. Book Two also has more Doctors working together, with a minimum of the various aspects of the Doctors sniping at each other. Other than the Fourth Doctor and the Eighth Doctor, though, the Classic Doctors are still only seen in cameos, although having all the Doctors working together to rescue the Eleventh Doctor and reverse the damage caused by the TT Capsule works and makes this seem like a true multi-Doctor story. I enjoyed this graphic novel, though I did find it extremely confusing at times and I had to read it multiple times to really figure out what was going on. Still, recommended.

Read my Review of Doctor Who – The Lost Dimension Book One.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Book One

  • Title: Doctor Who The Lost Dimension Book One
  • Authors: George Mann, Cavan Scott, Nick Abadzis
  • Artists: Rachael Stott, Adriana Melo, Cris Bolson, Mariano LaClaustra, Carlos Cabrera, Leandro Casco, INJ Culbard, Rod Fernandes, Marco Lesko, Dijjo Lima, Hernan Cabrera, IHQ Studios, Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Rose, Gabby, Cindy, Alice, Nardol, Bill, Cameos by other Doctors and Companions
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/24/2019

The Lost Dimension is Titan Comics attempt to do a crossover story with all the Doctors both from the Classic Series and New Who. However, even at two volumes (second volume to be reviewed separately), it doesn’t work as well as it should. The stories end up being more vignettes than a single, coherent story, and at times stories aren’t even told in order, which is confusing – even after multiple reads. Jenny’s story is particularly told backward: first, we see her trying to save Captain Jack and Tara who have arrived on a planet that is full of volcanic activity and very dangerous. But Jenny is unable to rescue them and is sucked into a white void. She’s pushed out of the void by the Fifth Doctor’s TARDIS which is sucked into the void in her place. Jenny’s ship is damaged. But the next thing we see in the book is Jenny crashing into the Terrance Dicks library on Earth – in a different ship. Later, we learn what happened to Jenny after she was freed from the Void and how she got her Time Lord Bow Ship, which subsequently crashed into the library. The story would have been stronger if it had been told in order.

There are other vignettes – the Twelfth Doctor is there with Bill when Jenny crashes her ship into the library. Kate Stewart arrives with Osgood to slap a D-notice on the incident. But some sort of radiation affects Osgood and everyone else, so they are all saying, “Peace”.

The Ninth Doctor and Rose arrive on a pirate ship, captained by Vastra and Jenny. The ship crashes into an island hidden by a perception filter. It’s home to a colony of Silurians, but unfortunately for Vastra, these Silurians have a plague that can kill her. Still, the Doctor and Rose pick-up a psychic message from Captain Jack – which the Doctor ignores.

The Tenth Doctor, Cindy, and Gabby arrive on a space station, where they are welcomed with open arms. The Doctor fixes the station’s power overload, but he can’t do a lot about an invasion of Cybermen. That the Cybermen have been affected by the White Void and are acting weird just makes the situation that much more strange.

The Eleventh Doctor and Alice end-up on ancient Gallifrey, just as the Time Lords are beginning to experiment with time and space travel. Even though the Doctor warns Alice they must be extra careful and not interfere, the Doctor, well, does. He walks in on a TARDIS training session and uses calming persuasion instead of “breaking” to get the new time-space capsule to accept an interior dimension bubble. His success convinces Rassilon that the Doctor will be perfect for his test pilot program. Alice gets a warning about this from the Second Doctor, but when she gets to the training and testing center – it’s too late, the Doctor’s time/space capsule has exploded with him inside it.

We also see brief cameos of the Third Doctor in this volume as he briefly appears in one of his successors TARDISes. The story will be continued in the next volume.

Most of the stories in this volume felt somewhat disjointed and out of sync. Just as one was getting involved in the individual story of an individual Doctor and companions, that story would end on a cliffhanger. The cliffhangers usually weren’t resolved, so it left the reader hanging. Also, The Lost Dimension promises to feature all Twelve Doctors – but the Classic Doctors only appear in cameos, and the New Who Doctors get longer stories within the main storyline. Not that the New Who stories are bad – I enjoyed them. Titan Comics has excellent writers for their various New Who series. I was frustrated by the unresolved cliffhangers though. The general storyline involves this White Void that’s taking over space. Still, recommended.

Doctor Who – The Day of the Moon Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Day of the Moon
  • Season: 6
  • Episode: # 2
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Complete Sixth Series” – 6 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Date: 11/15/2009
  • Cast: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 5/01/2011, now hosted on Dreamwidth

UPDATE: This review was written in 2011 before I had seen the rest of New Who Season 6 much less the entire Seven Moffat era of Doctor Who. It’s fascinating what I got right, what I got wrong and what could have been done differently and even better. Oh, and in the original review I for some reason spelled the villain/monster’s name as, “Silents” – I’m fixing that for this review.

I really liked “Day of the Moon” but it was very, very scary. Monsters that you forget the second you turn away and are no longer looking at them – that is very scary. Like conceptually that’s extremely frightening – you could encounter one of these things and never know it. And, also, that The Silence have the ability to manipulate and control behavior is also terrifying.

Though the second part didn’t have as many questions as part one, I still have some. And, I’m really hooked into Matt Smith’s second season. I hope everything pays off.

First, no one, at least no one on camera (not River, not Rory, nobody) seemed to notice that the underground lair of The Silence looked like a TARDIS. I noticed this right away and I don’t think it’s an accident of similar designs.

Second, I happened to be watching “The Lodger” this morning (still working through the S 5 DVDs) and the spaceship on top of the house looked IDENTICAL to the one we see underground and the one where Amy is held, prisoner. I don’t think this is an accident, either. I think it’s probably the first spaceship that landed on Earth piloted there by The Silence, whatever they are – though I have a theory on that.

Are the Silence -Time Lords? Time Lords that escaped the Time War? Time Lords from an alternate or parallel history? (Remember how the Doctor first describes the crack “two universes that should never have touched but did”?) Being Time Lords would explain why you forget them the minute you see them – they exist outside of  Time, therefore how could you remember a point of Time that doesn’t exist? It also would explain why the Doctor can’t see them either – usually, something mental that affects humans, like a perception filter, wouldn’t affect the Doctor.

Oddly enough, the speech by the Silence describing themselves – woven in the history of the Earth, there at every major event from the first making of fire and the wheel to the present – could ALSO describe the Doctor. Scary, isn’t it?

The 10th Doctor (Tennant) mentioned something called “The Nightmare Child” in his rants about the Time War. I think this child that we hear about in “Day of the Moon” might be “The Nightmare Child”  and a cross between a human and a Time Lord, specifically Amy and possibly, the Doctor (tho’ I don’t think the Doctor would have his way with Amy intentionally). Or, another possibility, is that somehow The Silence took Amy’s child and raised it as their own.

The orphanage looked a lot like a run-down version of Amy’s house, too – and Amy seemed to recognize it. When Amy and Rory investigated the orphanage – they both seemed much older, especially Amy. And marks kept appearing on Amy while she was in the same room in the house, which indicates time jumps. Amy’s life doesn’t seem to make sense, and this is the second time the Doctor tells her this. I think it has something to do with her being a time traveler and more than just a companion to the Doctor.

There also seems to be some sort of weird connection between Amy and Dr River Song. I think it’s possible Amy is River’s mother (this possibility was discussed in a recent chat I was in).

The child at the end that REGENERATED! Who is she? Is she Amy’s child? If so, is the Doctor the child’s father? Is the child RIVER?

The Doctor kissing River and River’s reaction was very, very sad. It makes me want to see “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead” again. It seems like just possibly. River’s now seen the Doctor’s death, and the Doctor’s seen River’s. Eeeep.

Did you notice the Doctor opening the TARDIS doors with a snap of his fingers? This was something River mentioned he could do, and Tennant’s Doctor didn’t believe her (tho’ he does it at the end of “Forest of the Dead”).

Who’s the astronaut that “killed” the Doctor? Is it the child?  Is it River? If it’s River, Did the Doctor tell her to do it? If so, Why? The Doctor that died at the very beginning of “The Impossible Astronaut” was over 200 years older than the Doctor we know. Think about that. We’ve seen Time Lords go batty before (Rassilon, Omega, The Master, The Rani, Borusa, Rassilon). In “Trial of a Time Lord” the Valeyard is said to be a future incarnation of the Doctor (though, this is later disproved as a trick by the Master and the Matrix). There’s been speculation for years that the Master is more than a dark side of the Doctor – he’s the Doctor’s future.

I cannot wait to see the rest of the season.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Day She Saved The Doctor

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Day She Saved The Doctor
  • Authors: Jacqueline Rayner, Jenny T. Colgan, Susan Calman, Dorothy Koomson
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/26/2018

**Spoiler Alert** The Day She Saved the Doctor is a collection of four short stories, well, novelettes. Each story features a female companion and a popular Doctor, and the theme for the four stories is that the companion must “save” or rescue the Doctor. Mind you, in the show the female companions, and even some of the male companions rescued the Doctor all the time. All four stories are also written by female writers and the book designer is also a woman (and from Milwaukee!).

Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes
Jacqueline Rayner

The first story, “Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes” has the Fourth Doctor (as played on the television series by Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane arriving in Ancient Rome. They no sooner start exploring an ancient marketplace than a woman runs out into the street – her eyes are white and she’s been blinded. But the woman wasn’t always blind and she had been missing a few days. Sarah asks her what happened but she has no idea. Sarah and the Doctor escort her home and discover that four other merchants wives had recently been blinded, under similar circumstances. Sarah smells a story, but she also is convinced that whatever is going on it’s not normal for Imperial Rome.

Sarah and the Doctor split up to interview the other victims, and even the wives of other merchants who are in the same social circle and might know something. But Sarah meets a woman who is the person behind it all and the Doctor gets a warning about the woman but is too late to rescue Sarah. Sarah is taken by Marcia to the temple home of a female-only cult that worships a goddess. There she meets a priestess who is using an alien machine to harvest information from other women. Unfortunately, the machine has the side effect of leaving people blind and Marcia is actually harvesting information to help her husband, also a merchant, in his business dealings.

The Doctor goes to the temple but the guards won’t let him in because he’s a man. He sneaks in but the priestesses get very upset that a man has invaded his temple. They threaten to kill the Doctor by a poisonous snakebite and use the alien machine on Sarah. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to fix the machine and then has Sarah try it. The machine doesn’t blind her and after the priestess experiences Sarah’s memories of the Doctor, the priestess agrees she can’t kill the Doctor because he is a good man. She also sees that Marcia was taking advantage of her. The Doctor and Sarah leave, as they depart in the TARDIS, Sarah wonders if they might have changed history, but the Doctor reminds her that no one really knows anything about that particular female-led Roman religion.

Rose and the Snow Window
by Jenny T. Colgan

The second short story in The Day She Saved the Doctor is Jenny T. Colgan’s “Rose and the Snow Window”. The story starts with the Ninth Doctor and Rose arriving in Toronto in 2005, the Doctor is looking for a time puncture. He sets up a telescope in an apartment in a high rise apartment building. Rose looks through the telescope and sees a candle-lit room opposite. The Doctor and Rose investigate and soon find a connection between Toronto and Russia in 1812.

They travel back to Russia in 1812 where Rose meets the Russian count she had seen in the window in 2005 Toronto. The young man is bereft because he is being forced into a marriage of convenience to save his family. He soon falls for Rose because she is unlike anyone he has ever met. She also falls for the handsome Count. Do to an attack of some sort of robot or alien that recognizes Rose as an “anomaly” Count Nikolai pulls on the red ribbon she wears and the two snap back to 2005 Toronto. Rose introduces the Count to modern conveniences like hot showers, electric lights, and fluffy towels warmed on a radiator. The Count is delighted by each new discovery he makes, and Rose enjoys this immensely.

They return to Russia again with the Doctor, and gradually the Doctor and Rose figure out that the woman Nikolai is supposed to marry is actually an alien who feeds on psychic energy. She essentially bribes Nikolai – offering him money, security for his family, and no children so the timeline will be preserved. Nikolai decides to reluctantly go through with it. Rose interrupts the wedding. The anomalies get worse with a troop of confused Mounties appearing in 19th century Russia. (Mind you, this isn’t wholly accurate. The Mounties have ceremonial duties, which is the only time they wear red serge. Otherwise, in the Western provinces and territories, the Mounties have duties similar to the FBI or State Police in the US.) The Doctor ends up binding with the alien so it can go home. Later, Rose and the Doctor check on Nikolai’s history – knowing that without a rich purse, the only thing for him to do was join the Russian military in 1812.

“Rose and the Snow Window” had a great sense of atmosphere, and the story centers more on Rose than the Doctor but the Doctor is still a strong presence and it’s a good partnership story about the two of them. I quite enjoyed it. It’s also the longest story in the book.

Clara and the Maze of Cui Palta
by Susan Culman

Clara is basically having a bad day at the start of her story in this collection. It’s not terrible, but she’s bored, frustrated, and really needs a vacation. She convinces the Doctor to take her on a “relaxing spa vacation”. I did have some trouble figuring out if Clara was with the Eleventh Doctor or the Twelfth Doctor in this story, but by the end, I’m pretty sure it was the Eleventh Doctor (as played by Matt Smith on the BBC television series). The two arrive on Cui Palta, one of the great resort planets. They explore, as the Doctor raves about all the relaxing things they can do, but gradually Clara becomes uneasy. Clara’s unease and discomfort grow, and she points out the problem – there are no people. The Doctor pooh-poohs this observation. There are also yellow flowers everywhere and the Doctor encourages Clara “to stop and smell the flowers.”

The two continue walking, then see an entrance to a garden maze. Clara again has misgivings, but the Doctor says it will be fun to solve the maze. They enter but get hopelessly lost, going around and around in circles. Clara confronts the Doctor with this but again he pooh-poohs and ignores her. This continues and the traps in the maze get more and more dangerous. When they find dead skeletons, the Doctor acknowledges that something is wrong. They continue trying to solve the maze – which now includes moving walls and mirrored corridors. Finally, they reach a courtyard with three doors – only to find that when they open and walk through a door – they return to the courtyard.

It’s in this three-choices section that Clara and the Doctor are separated but they can still communicate by yelling to each other. Clara trips and being close to the ground and sneezing (as she’s been doing throughout the story) she used a hankie the Doctor gave her to cover her nose and mouth. Then she sees things clearly – it’s all an illusion and the Doctor is literally running in circles. She calls out to the Doctor to get low and cover his nose and mouth. He does and the illusion breaks. The two leave the maze and city for the TARDIS and leave the planet. But it begs the question as to how the psychoactive flowers got there in the first place and did they really poison all the people on the planet.

Like the Sarah Jane story, Clara and the Maze of Cui Palta plays up Clara’s personal fears – this time her fear of getting lost. But this is also probably the strongest story in terms of the theme of the Companion saving the Doctor – because in this story it seems like the Doctor never would have figured it out. But he also discounts Clara’s concerns frequently – and she comes off a bit spoiled and a bit of a know-it-all. So although it handles the theme in a direct way, I liked other stories in the collection better.

Bill and the Three Jackets
by Dorothy Koomson

Bill and the Doctor are in the TARDIS, and Bill is trying to convince the Doctor to let her go shopping. The Twelfth Doctor (as played by Peter Capaldi on the British series Doctor Who) tries to convince Bill she can certainly find something to wear for her date in the TARDIS’s wardrobe rooms, he even tells her he probably has an entire room of jackets, but Bill is unconvinced and succeeds in getting him to let her go shopping.

Bill goes into town and finds a shop she never really noticed before. Inside are racks and racks of jackets. The shop clerk, who has a name tag that reads, Ziggy, seems friendly enough and before long Bill’s picked out three jackets to try on. She slips on the first one, an amethyst jacket, and is about to take a selfie when the Ziggy objects, the jackets are exclusive designs and the shop doesn’t allow selfies. Bill thinks this is weird but she puts her phone away. The Ziggy then offers to take pictures with her Polaroid camera. The picture seems to be taking an extraordinary amount of time to develop so the clerk puts it on the counter. Bill tries on a green jacket and a gold leather one with buckles. But she also starts to feel ill and weak. Ziggy had taken pictures of her in each jacket. Ziggy urges Bill to get something to eat and then come back and make her decision.

Bill leaves and walks to a nearby coffee shop. But her coffee and sandwich don’t taste good to her and her stomach ache gets worse. Later the owner of the coffee shop comes out and asks Bill where the girl went, the one who ordered a coffee, chips, and sandwich and didn’t pay. Bill’s confused – that’s her order, but she definitely paid. Yet the coffee shop owner insists she’s someone else and the other girl didn’t pay.

Bill goes to the TARDIS and the Doctor doesn’t recognize her either. Moreover, there’s another Bill in the TARDIS. Bill now knows something is very wrong. She tries to figure out how she can get some help and realizes that there’s a girl she knew at university, someone to whom she always gave extra chips. Bill approaches the girl who’s reading a science fiction novel in the cafeteria. Bill explains her story and then tells her about the extra chips. The girl, being an SF fan, actually believes Bill. The two set off for the shop. They get the photographs and then confront the Doctor and the fake Bill again.

Bill tears up the photos and she starts to appear to be herself, while the fake Bill is obviously an alien shapeshifter. The camera was loaded with psychic paper, and the shapeshifter used it to stabilize her form. But when the Doctor and Bill ask why she did it, they find out she was fleeing a repressive regime on her home planet. Now she just wants to go home. The Doctor explains he must take the shapeshifter to a different time as well as place – if he took her to the planet now it would just be empty space. But he agrees. Bill’s compassion for the shapeshifter is instrumental in the Doctor’s decision to help. Bill also gains respect for the girl she’d flirted with but never really spoken to before.

There are no bad guys in this story. The alien is simply homesick and using its natural abilities and a little psychic paper to get what it wants. Bill’s own insecurities made her a mark in the first place, not that that’s completely fair (everyone is insecure sometimes). Bill learns a lot about herself about a friend and about the alien and the Doctor. And the Doctor is passive in this story – he’s as vulnerable to the alien’s illusion as anyone else who doesn’t know Bill. It’s a good story, with an important point about being comfortable in your own skin rather than trying to be someone else’s idea of perfect.

This was a fun collection and I enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

Book Review- Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock

  • Title: Nothing O’Clock
  • Series: Doctor Who Novelette Collection
  • Author: Neil Gaiman
  • Characters: Eleventh Doctor, Amy
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/08/2016

Doctor Who Nothing O’Clock is one of the short booklets found in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary 12 Doctors 12 Stories collection. This story features the Eleventh Doctor as played by Matt Smith on the revived series and Amy Pond. It’s also written by Neil Gaiman, an accomplished writer of fantasy novels, graphic novels, screen plays, and television – including two episodes of Doctor Who. Gaiman’s story is quite possibly the scarest of the bunch.

The opening chapter describes a prison, built by the Time Lords, for a terrifying monster known only as the Kin. The prison was meant to last forever, but when the Time Lords disappeared, the Kin were able to break out.

On Earth, a young child tells her father someone has come to buy their house. The father, who seems preoccupied with bills, doesn’t believe it – but a person in a mask offers three times what the house is worth. The man takes the money and moves his family into an hotel. He finds that the hotel is filled with other people who have sold their homes under similar circumstances – and no one can find any property to buy. Eventually the hotel is sold out from under them. Even the local police are perplexed about what to do – because the building housing their station has been sold.

The Doctor and Amy land in her time to find Rory, and not only is Rory not there, the Earth is silent. Amy hears a message that the Kin now own the planet, it was purchased legally, and the Shadow Proclamation found nothing wrong with the transaction. Also, the people died out, the message concludes.

The Doctor and Amy rush back in time to prevent this outcome. They encounter the kin, and the Doctor warns Amy to never ask the Kin what time it is – that question being a verbal trap that allows the Kin to control people to their own ends. Amy, however, is tricked and whisked away from the Doctor.

The Doctor becomes angry and lets the Kin think they’ve tricked him into letting them into his TARDIS – however, he’s pulled a trick of his own.

This was a wonderful and spooky story, with a terrifying villain. I highly, highly recommend this story.