Puffin, out now
A collection of very short stories about the Doctors, his friends and foes…
Unless you’re an avid collector of every piece of Doctor Who prose fiction that’s come out over the last 10 years, chances are that you’ll have missed some of the stories in this collection, which brings together the short stories from The Doctor Who Files (those Ladybird-book sized tomes about assorted characters that appeared during the Tennant era), and the prose tales from recent annuals. You certainly won’t have read three of them, new contributions from Gary Russell featuring the War Doctor, Clara, and the 12th Doctor – with the Clara tale one of his best pieces of Who fiction.
Many of the stories fill in tiny gaps in continuity: the soldier who knew the Eleventh Doctor from when she was a child, the creation of the Cult of Skaro, K9 Mark III’s thoughts as his systems failed prior to the arrival of the Tenth Doctor – while others might almost have triggered later adventures. Some are very lightweight, while others have a bittersweet twist in them that matches the tone of the TV series. Jac Rayner shows how well she understands the character of Rose, while Steve Cole’s The Final Darkness gives a very different perspective on the events of The Christmas Invasion and Justin Richards’ Best Friends epitomises the best qualities of Captain Jack Harkness. There’s probably more Tenth Doctor tales than any other incarnation – and these tales invoke that long-gone era well.
Verdict: Some gems from more ephemeral works are brought together to make a highly enjoyable collection. 8/10