Lights Out by Holly Black

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A genetically-enhanced alien called 78351 is picking up his cargo of coffee from the Intergalactic Coffee Roasting Station when he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation.

The Puffin ebook range is back out of retirement for one last mission! After ending on a high last November with Neil Gaiman’s Nothing O’Clock, the Twelfth Doctor gets his profile on the cover this volume. In a pleasingly apt marriage of author name with book title, Holly Black brings us Lights Out.

In some ways this is a companion piece to Capaldi’s debut Deep Breath. Here we see the Doctor fetching the coffee he promised Clara at the end of that story; he seems to abandon the action at one point, as he did to Clara in the Clockwork man’s ship. He also touches on the idea that his new visage is somehow a message to himself.

“Sometimes we need to tell ourselves something important. something so important we don’t tell ourselves in a very straightforward way. Sometimes we can only do it with a new face.”

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There’s an array of fan-pleasing references, with aliens from twentieth-century Doctor Who rubbing shoulders with their counterparts from 2005-onwards, in a coffee shop-take on the Star Wars cantina scene. Best of all, the Intergalactic Coffee Roasting Station orbits the planet Chloris from the underrated The Creature from the Pit. But the nostalgia gives way to a darker tale of a serial killer on the loose.

Black’s take on the Doctor is closer to the uncontrollably garrulous Tenth and Eleventh incarnations than the more circumspect Twelfth version. Where this tale does fit into series eight is that it is about transformation, as we see we’ve seen several times on television this year – the Clockwork Man, the moon, the Boneless, Danny Pink, and even Clara into a person more like the Doctor. It’s a clever story, told in the first person and in present tense, with clues about the whodunit seeded throughout.

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Order Lights Out from Amazon:

Doctor Who: Lights Out: Twelfth Doctor: Twelfth Doctor (Doctor Who 50th Anniversary E-Shorts)

On audiobook:

Doctor Who: Lights Out: Twelfth Doctor (Unabridged)

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