Time Shadows

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Time Shadows is a Doctor Who short-story anthology for the benefit of the Enable Community Foundation

This collection of stories opens with the Twelfth Doctor at the end of the universe. It’s become one of this incarnation’s regular hangouts, somewhere he has visited in both series so far, in Listen and Hell Bent. On this visit an encounter with the powerful Alpha TARDIS is the catalyst for the other tales here, which are told as new memories created for the Doctor. It’s an effective framing device, as the ongoing story of the hunt for the stolen Alpha intersperses a series of adventures which span all of the character’s previous lives. These chapters, A Torch in the Darkness I -V (written by Dale Smith, David N. Smith and Violet Addison, and Christopher Colley) bind the individual stories together.

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Someone has inserted the new events have been inserted into the Doctor’s timeline, much  as he did to Kazran in A Christmas Carol. Some of the stories attempt to smooth out inconsistencies from the television stories, in the way that a lot of expanded universe material will, from the Missing Adventures to Big Finish. In Simon Blake’s thoughtful Time’s Shadow, we learn why Susan claimed to have named TARDISes, when every story from The War Games onwards makes this seem increasingly unlikely. But we also find the origin of the felt-tipped ‘Fast Return’ above the switch on the console from Inside the Spaceship, so there’s the suggestion that these stories did always happen in the timeline we  know.

In a similar vein is After the Ball Was Over by Christopher Colley. A highlight of the collection, it seeks to explain the change from season seventeen’s carefree, witty raconteur of a Fourth Doctor to the sombre, serious season eighteen version. Most fans know that this was the result in a change of producer from Graham Williams to John Nathan-Turner, but I think this is the first in-universe explanation for this I’ve seen. Colley very effectively evokes both eras. It feels relevant by echoing the idea of the Doctor ‘going too far’ from the Hybrid arc in the recent series ten; the idea that the Doctor is just too powerful to do whatever he wants without thinking about the consequences for the rest of the universe.

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Confirmation Bias by Andrew Blair is another excellent entry which explores the consequences of the Doctor’s actions. It’s a story which uses the written form to delve into the horror of the Cybermen, and cyber-conversion, in a way the TV series has not. A Doctor-lite tale, which uses the frequently infantilised persona of the Eleventh Doctor to juxtapose what a dark universe he inhabits.

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The First Doctor is well-represented in this book. Kingdom of the Blind by David Mason gives the short-lived TARDIS team of the Doctor, Steven and Sarah Kingdom a run out; while David McLain’s Indigo is fun, but it doesn’t feel quite right for the Doctor of this period to be investigating anomalies the Ship’s sensors have picked up. But it is the First Doctor’s appearance in A Torch in the Darkness II: A Legendary Hero by David N. Smith and Violet Addison, that gives the reader a first clue as to the significance of this incarnation in the overall arc. The differences between his earliest and most recent incarnation provide another story beat which again chimes with a key point from series ten, in The Girl Who Died.

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This is a great collection of short stories, with a really epic story running through the individual entries. This in particular feels very much of the Moffat-era: clever story-telling and resolution, the use of avatars and an end-of-the-universe setting. In a year where the BBC are not even publishing much Doctor Who fiction to make up for the lack of a broadcast series, this is an entertaining option for a very good cause.

Order now from: http://pseudoscopepublishing.com/timeshadows/

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