The Doctor and his companions have come up against monsters
constantly: they defeat them and help the victims... most
of the time. But monsters come in a variety of forms. They're
not all slobbering, rampaging beasts: many attack their prey
with means more cunning than violence...
with the subject of Earth history in Short Trips: Past
Tense, the overarching theme of this anthology contains
some rather loose definitions of the word "monster". For instance,
the beast in question in Simon Guerrier's Categorical Imperative
is a would-be dictator, whereas it's a book (a monster hit,
presumably) in Best Seller, by Ian Mond and Danny Oz.
But I am completely at a loss to identify who or what the
monsters are in Marc Platt's Last Rites or Samantha
Baker's These Things Take Time.
collection does not get off to a good start with Best Seller
which - ironically, given that it concerns a best-selling
book - isn't very readable at all.
contrast, the subject of media manipulation is handled much
better in Anthony Keetch's Not So Much a Programme, More
a Way of Life, which is one of the highlights of this
volume. Keetch's witty story about an addictive television
show contains many amusing allusions of the Doctor Who
series. It involves monsters that resemble actors in suits,
a feeble attempt to hide by pressing oneself against a wall,
and the show's arch nemesis is called the National Viewers
and Listeners Association! The tale is only slightly marred
by some out-of-character musings on the part of Nyssa.
I could take or leave From Eternity, by Jim Mortimore,
which doesn't really seem like a Doctor Who story at
all, and Last Rites. Categorical Imperative
is a good story, but we have had far too many reunions of
most or all of the Doctors just lately, and the novelty value
has well and truly worn off.
in general this is a very strong anthology. The Touch of
the Nurazh, by Stephen Hatcher, is an entertaining Third
Doctor and Jo story, while These Things Take Time makes
good use of the Seventh Doctor's new companion Hex, and makes
up for the fact that we won't be hearing from him in any new
audio adventures for several months to come. Jacqueline Rayner's
Screamager, like Andy Russell's The Republican's
Story in the previous collection, Repercussions,
deals with the grisly subject of the Black Death, while also
prefacing Victoria's decision to leave the Doctor in Fury
from the Deep. Steve Lyons, who was so good at showing
us the aliens' point of view in his Second Doctor novel The
Final Sanction, pulls it off again in The Colour of
pinnacle of this collection is Trapped! by Joseph Lidster.
This idiosyncratic but dramatic tale weaves together narrative
threads concerning three very different groups of characters,
including a jaded office worker trapped in a lift, a woman
menaced by an attacker, and Peri as she struggles to come
to terms with the violent tendencies of the recently regenerated
expecting to find a story by Nev Fountain may be disappointed,
since his How I Stopped Trying to Kill the Doctor and Learned
to Love Myself has been dropped for whatever reason. Samantha
Baker's publicised contribution, Evil Since the Dawn of
Time, also known as Feeding Time, has been retitled
as These Things Take Time.
Monsters is well worth capturing. As Paul Whitehouse's
Nosferatu-type character in The Fast Show might have
said: "You mark my words. Monsters! Monsters!
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