While the first of the Doctor Who short stories was somewhat disappointing, I can say that author Michael Scott’s outing was considerably more successful. Scott, author of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, was charged with coming up with a story for the second doctor, Patrick Toughton. As I’ve said before, I’m a rather unabashed NuWho viewer, so a quick search reveals that Troughton’s Doctor was designed to be less a grumpy Professor-type a la William Hartnell and more of a “cosmic hobo.”
Though I had no real frame of reference, several reviewers on Goodreads stated that Eoin Colfer hadn’t properly captured Hartnell’s Doctor, but I saw fewer of these complaints regarding Troughton. This may have a lot to do with Scott’s decision to focus on Troughton’s sidekick, the be-kilted Jamie McCrimmon, who apparently had the longest ever run as a companion (thanks, Wikipedia).
But what Scott really gets right is his attempt to make the short story more of a complete episode than Colfer, who appeared to give us half of an episode coupled with a lot of strange side-plot. While Scott didn’t manage to make me feel as though I really could have seen his story in a full 45 minutes, I appreciated the fact that there was a solid set-up, climax and ending.
The Nameless City opens with Jamie encountering an old man being attacked in the street. After scaring off his assailant, the man gives Jamie an old book as a reward. Jamie takes it back to the Doctor and, as you might imagine, all is not as it seems with the strange gift. The book sucks the Tardis, Jamie and the Doctor into a nameless city from the edge of space and time and they have to fight off an ancient race to get the Tardis back into the present.
Scott doesn’t bother trying to offer too many contemporary winks to his readers, apart from a quick line about how the police boxes are slowly disappearing from British streets, something the modern version of the show has repeatedly pointed out is something of a problem when it comes to disguising the Tardis. The majority of the story focuses on the plot itself, which is appreciated.
I can’t think of any particular issues I had with it, apart from the fact that it did also seem to zip by a little too fast, but in any event, the villains are compelling, the story is interesting I got a good ride out of it.
I still think an opportunity has been missed by not somehow asking the short stories to all come together into some larger whole (a unifying villain or problem), but otherwise I would definitely recommend this second story to anyone who’s interested in this ongoing project.
The third ebook, The Spear of Destiny, will be available on March 23rd and was penned by Marcus Sedgwick, author of a lot of books I haven’t heard of, including Floodland, My Sword Hand is Singing and White Crow.