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Doctor Who: Adventures In Lockdown (book review).

January 23, 2021 | By | Reply More

In the long ago days of March 2020, everyone was very scared and feeling very isolated. But the brilliant Doctor sent us a message that it was OK to be afraid but we should look out for each other and to be kind. We might need reminding of this message that so many people, both young and old found, very comforting and it’s reprinted here in full.

Following on from that there were a series of lockdown ‘watchalongs’ that inspired the original showrunners and writers to join in and offer some new material to be enjoyed for free on the BBC ‘Doctor Who’ website. This compilation is all of the stories including the original message of hope and three new stories only available in this volume. It’s a fundraiser for ‘Children In Need’ in the UK. I hope it’s raised a lot.

There are fifteen stories and one poem all written by recognisable names in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe. Some feature the current Doctor and others refer back to previous Doctors and companions

I managed to read a lot of these during the last few months but it was good to find them collated into this book. There are some stand-out stories here and for different reasons. For instance, ‘The Terror Of The Umpty Ums’ made me laugh but I also remember hiding behind the sofa when the Doctor fought the Daleks.

It’s a neat and clever story by Stephen Moffat who is also definitely channelling both his inner fan as a child and his desire to reassure children everywhere that the Doctor will look after them at this difficult and frightening time.

‘Revenge Of The Nestene’ by Russell T Davies shows us what happened after the events of ‘The Runaway Bride’ when a tiny part of the Nestene Consciousness survived. It has a superb punchline or should I say gut punch.

‘Press Play’ by Pete McTigh takes us to a TARDIS where the 13th is feeling very alone and a random stab at the console finds that even this moment has been prepared for.

There are a trio of stories by Paul Cornell who returns to the ‘Family Of Blood’ characters whose first outing was in the novel ‘Human Nature’ subsequently reworked to great effect as a two-part adventure for the Tenth. ‘The Shadow Passes’ sees the current team having to isolate from a Death Moon on the Planet Calapia. Being locked in makes for some major introspection which, funnily enough, is quite familiar to us…or as the Doctor says, ‘Three weeks of indoor games! Result!’ ‘Shadow Of A Doubt’ is almost a diary note from Dr Bernice Summerfield and ‘The Shadow In The Mirror’ finally comes to the little girl with the balloon exiled by the Doctor for her crimes.

‘Fellow Traveller’ by Mark Gatiss takes us to the years after the Daleks have been sent packing from Earth. There is unfinished business. For such a short story to encapsulate more than fifty years of the Doctor is no mean achievement. It is such a simple but such a resonant story that it proves how much we have absorbed of the history of the character. If this story was an imoji, it would be a single tear sliding down a face.

I’ve discussed a sample of the stories but every story links back to the familiar and some will appeal more than others. They are the hidden, hinted at but never expanded which are allowed a little glimpse of when the cameras stop rolling. There are also fine illustrations by different artists who offer their own interpretation of what we are reading reminding us that the Doctor has many lives in comics and graphic novels. There is indeed something for everyone and a little reminder of how far we’ve come over the last few months in strange times.

Sue Davies

January 2021

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury, 2020. 192 page paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78594-706-3)

check out website: www.eburypublishing.co.uk

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Category: Books, Doctor Who

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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