One day she will bring down empires and decide the fate of
the universe. One day she will be feared by creatures of evil
and revered wherever people have had just a little bit too
much to drink. But all that is yet to come... Explore the
early life of Bernice Summerfield and witness the events that
shaped the archaeologist and space-adventuress we know today,
as a boarding school tries anything to make her behave; a
bizarre circus offers solace following the loss of her father;
the military catches up with her, and her freedom will cost
her dearly; ancient books prove to be deadly; and Benny thinks
she may have discovered evidence of her dads existence...
12 all-new stories, Missing Adventures celebrates 15
years of Bernice Surprise Summerfield. Wouldnt 15 stories
have been more appropriate, though?
of the contributors have played a formative role in the characters
creation and development back in her Virgin Books New Adventures
days, including the books editor, Rebecca Levene; Peter
Darvill-Evans, who provides the story Home; Ben
Aaronovitch, who contributes The Evacuation of Bernice
Summerfield Considered as a Short Film by Terry Gilliam;
Andrew Cartmel, who lends us Bernice Summerfield and
the Library of Books; and Andy Lane, who leaves Blood
on the Tracks. Bennys creator, Paul Cornell, is
conspicuous by his absence, though Eddie Robsons Thirty
Love acts as an effective lead-in to Love and War,
the Cornell Doctor Who novel that introduced us to
you may have gathered from some of the titles listed above,
theres something of a flavour of the movies in this
anthology. The Evacuation of Bernice Summerfield Considered
as a Short Film by Terry Gilliam only really reflects
the film industry in its title (though the story is a truly
and, perhaps appropriately, bizarre affair). Similarly, the
plot and tone of Andy Owenss Postcards from the
Edge of Reason have nothing in common with the movies
Postcards from the Edge or Bridget Jones: The Edge
of Reason. Conversely, Bernice Summerfield and the
Library of Books emulates the Indiana Jones series
in both title and content, with a dash of The Name of the
Rose added for good measure. Benny and Louise,
by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, is obviously a spin on
Thelma and Louise, though a more light-hearted affair,
featuring the return of the snail-like Slarvians, aliens that
have previously appeared in the writers Tomorrow
People and Doctor Who work. Home is
conveyed in the form of a documentary transcript, which lends
a certain dramatic quality.
stories cover a period of about 20 years, from Bennys
schooldays (in Xanna Eve Chowns Biology Lesson
on Mal Oreille) to a short while before she met the
Seventh Doctor (in Thirty Love).
am somewhat disappointed that the book does not cover a more
extended period, to include Bernices time aboard the
TARDIS, or her residence on the planet Dellah or the Braxiatel
Collection, but at least The Evacuation includes
some tasters of the strange beings and situations that will
eventually come into her life. Many of the eccentric circus
performers that the young Benny encounters in this story resemble
incarnations of the Doctor, including a woman sporting Sixth
Doctor-style unrealistically curly blond hair
and a clown wearing the Third Doctors trademark frilly
shirt. A soothsayer called the Pythia also appeared in a couple
of Marc Platts New Adventures (admittedly, not
in novels in which Bernice appeared), while (more pertinently)
the sinister, long-limbed character known as Spider probably
represents the scheming Braxiatel.
surprisingly, given the period of future history in which
Benny is said to have grown up, there are numerous references,
in stories such as John Binnss Charged and
Postcards from the Edge of Reason, to the Enemy.
These are obviously the Daleks, though (probably for copyright
reasons) they are not named as such. This euphemistic title
invites speculation, by fanboys such as myself, as to a connection
with the similarly nameless Enemy fought by the Time Lords
in several Eighth Doctor novels, and thus a connection with
referred to in the relaunched Doctor Who TV series.
Perhaps the war against the Enemy in the Eighth Doctor books
was an earlier campaign of the Time War...
do seem to keep defining this collection by what it isnt
rather than what it is, whats missing rather than whats
here: 12 stories rather than 15; no Paul Cornell; no Doctor;
no Dellah; no Braxiatel Collection. Nevertheless, Missing
Adventures has its moments.
favourite stories are the gripping lunar-based Home
and the moving Blood on the Tracks, the latter
of which also features a quite fascinating multi-dimensional
species. Similarly stirring are the courtroom tale Charged,
Jason Arnopps Prime Five and Postcards
from the Edge of Reason, all of which have some pretty
disparaging things to say about the military. For sheer entertainment,
I recommend the jolly hockey sticks boarding school
setting of Biology Lesson on Mal Oreille (even
though some of Chowns plot revelations are a trifle
predictable), and the spirit of adventure that is present
in Benny and Louise and The Library of Books.
the other hand, Andy Bodles The Tunnels to Heaven
leaves me unmoved, while The Evacuation and Magnus
Andersons The Slight Façade are both
hard to assimilate. The Slight Façade seems
to exist primarily as a context for a genuine treasure hunt
arranged by Big Finish. Theres a real prize hidden somewhere
in the UK (it says here), with clues to its whereabouts concealed
within this story. I hope you have better luck than me: I
havent got a clue where to look!
Adventures is my least favourite Bernice Summerfield
short-story anthology to date - but even so, you probably
wouldnt want it to be missing from your collection.
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