There's a fresh grave on planetoid KS-159, but only Bernice
Summerfield seems to have noticed. Her friends are too busy
with their own affairs to see how keenly she feels this loss.
There's no time to grieve. Life must carry on, and Benny has
been lumbered with a new assignment, babysitting some daft
experiment. Doggles claims his "history machine" will change
everything. The worst thing is, he's right...
my review of the previous Bernice Summerfield book,
Parallel Lives, I
noted that its title had led me to expect a set of parallel
universe stories. However, that's actually what we get in
this short-story collection - well, alternate timelines to
be precise, but they amount to pretty much the same thing.
I suppose the sight of an eye-patched Bernice on the front
cover should have tipped me off.
activation of the history machine (an ancient artefact, the
description of which makes it sound like it's probably a space-time
visualiser, as seen in the William Hartnell Doctor Who
serials The Space Museum and The Chase)
accidentally breaks down the barriers between dimensions.
In each of the short stories that follow we experience alternate
versions of the familiar characters and settings of the Braxiatel
Collection. At first the differences are basic, involving
the injury or death of different characters. But they gradually
become stranger as the anthology progresses, to include some
non-Martian variants of Hass the gardener and a male equivalent
the differences are carried over and/or developed in successive
stories. For example, Jason's face is scarred in both "Writing
in Green", by Dave Hoskin, and David Cromarty's "Showing Initiative".
solution to the trans-dimensional crisis, as revealed in Ian
Mond's "Family Man", is extreme, and unfortunately it is also
very similar to that of Sabbath and his allies in the BBC
Eighth Doctor novels that ran between Time
Zero and Sometime
talking of Brax and the Doctor, for those of you who have
been wondering whether Doctor Who's Time War has happened
yet from Braxiatel's point of view, Simon Guerrier's introductory
story, "Inappropriate Laughter", appears to confirm that the
Time Lords are still alive and well at this juncture. Both
Brax and Benny seem to refer to Gallifrey in the present tense.
However, perhaps Guerrier has in mind the potential problems
posed by developments in the new Doctor Who series,
as his concluding tale, "After Life", suggests that the Braxiatel
Collection's timeline has been permanently altered. Could
it be that the Professor Bernice Summerfield range
is hereby divorcing itself from its roots as a Doctor Who
spin-off? We shall have to wait and see.
from Guerrier's two bookend stories, I tended to enjoy the
tales that worked towards the grand plan of his anthology,
such as "Family Man", Dave Stone's Memento- and 50
First Dates-inspired "Back and There Again" and Sin Deniz's
"One of My Turns", in the latter two of which, characters
begin to become aware of the changes to their worlds. In addition,
James Swallow's "Siege Mentality" is a tense piece of writing,
and Joseph Lidster's "Dead Mice" is an unnervingly nightmarish
exploration of Brax's guilty conscience, while Eddie Robson's
"Match of the Deity" is good light-hearted fun.
the other hand, Ben Aaronovitch's "Walking Backwards for Christmas"
is rather hard work. It is also more of a flashback tale than
an alternate timeline story, and so it is of dubious relevance
to this anthology.
I'm nit-picking, the standard "Braxiatel Collection" introductory
text wrongly claims that Benny's son Peter is five (he's not,
he's four, as the jacket blurb correctly states) and that
Adrian Wall reports to Ms Jones (he doesn't - Clarissa Jones
was written out in Parallel Lives).
with most anthologies, Something Changed is a mixed
bag, but there's still something here for all Bernice Summerfield
fans. No change there then.
this item online
compare prices online so you get the cheapest
deal! Click on the logo of the desired store
below to purchase this item.
All prices correct at time of going to press.