In the early hours of the morning, a rock star gives a one-off
comeback performance within a virtual reality dreamscape.
Over breakfast, a woman waits for the love of her life to
walk into a café. The afternoon sees vital peace talks between
two warring factions. A new UNIT recruit faces terror at dusk
in his first day on the job. As we leave one story and join
the next, we switch location and era, but not the hands on
it just me, or does the idea of a collection of short stories
"whose total 'running time' adds up to a single 24-hour period:
a fictional 'day in the life of the universe' made up of fragments
from throughout time and space" (to quote from the back flap
blurb) seem a little pointless to you? Had these tales all
been set within the same day on the same planet, with various
Doctors and companions experiencing diverse yet interconnected
adventures in different regions of the planet, that might
have been more interesting.
get a hint of such potential in three consecutive narratives
- How You Get There by Simon Guerrier, The Last
Broadcast by Matthew Griffiths and The Terror of the
Darkness by Joseph Lidster - which take place sequentially
within the confines of London. In these, the events of the
preceding story have an impact upon the subsequent one.
first and last entries in this anthology - Andy Russell's
After Midnight and Before Midnight - are also
linked, but unfortunately they are somewhat confusing. Before
supposedly sheds light upon events in After, but in
fact I found the time-looping "explanation" only added to
my bewilderment. In fact, the opening After Midnight
is a more comprehensible piece of writing when treated as
a separate entity.
slightly less incomprehensible is One Wednesday Afternoon,
by Alison Jacobs, which depicts, through the eyes of a middle-aged
housewife, the Fifth Doctor and Turlough's battle against
some humanoids and some floating lights. Or something.
also requires a high degree of concentration to make sense
of it, but the effort is well worthwhile, since this is a
most amusing tale. An alien visitation results in the inability
of the populace to use any vowels apart from "o". Appropriately
enough, this adventure features the Third Doctor, Jo and UNIT
member Osgood, whose names are all unaffected by the linguist
lurgy, but do I detect a pseudonym on the part of the supposed
author, Ross Strow?
I also enjoyed Danny Oz's Sold Out, which depicts a
logical extension of today's hi-tech, high-spectacle rock
concerts; Nev Fountain's amusing poem The Five O'Clock
Shadow, which deftly plays upon the reader's expectations;
the Fourth Doctor's suitably whimsical antics in Ian Farrington's
The Sooner the Better and Matthew Griffiths' The
Last Broadcast; the surprising and rewarding The Heroine,
the Hero and the Megalomaniac, by Ian Mond, which tells
its story from three separate points of view; the heart-warming
How You Get There, in which the Seventh Doctor brings
individuals together during a tedious commute across London;
and the horrifying Terror of the Darkness. The latter
two stories feature the characters of Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood,
Colonel Chaudhry and Lieutenant Hoffman from Big Finish's
UNIT series, with The Terror of the Darkness
describing Hoffman's first day on the job.
the other hand, I found Dan Abnett's Six Impossible Things
Before Breakfast and Xanna Eve Chown's A Life in the
Day rather derivative. Six Impossible Things owes
much to the opening episode of The
Mind Robber, while A Life in the Day rehashes
the fast-living subject matter of the Star Trek and
Star Trek: Voyager episodes Wink of an Eye and
Blink of an Eye.
However, my joint favourite two stories are Waiting for
Jeremy, by Richard Salter, and Making History,
by Trevor Baxendale. Both feature the First Doctor and Steven,
and both make excellent use of the headstrong companion. You
can almost hear actor Peter Purves bellowing the words "But
we must do something, Doctor!" as he learns the sad tale of
a loveless old lady in Waiting for Jeremy. This poignant
story brings new meaning to the Doctor's famous line in The
Aztecs: "You can't rewrite history, not one
In both stories, Steven ends up impersonating a military officer,
but the tones of the two pieces could scarcely be more different
from each other. Making History is an altogether more
comical escapade, in which much mirth is caused by an idiosyncratic
translating device and the medical condition of a gelatinous
collection is a mixed bag, but, on balance, it's probably
worth spending a day or two of your life with.
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