“Short Trips: Life Science” is a collection of Doctor Who short stories collected and edited by John Binns. Big Finish Productions used to publish a series of anthologies, and this particular volume was published in 2004. There are sixteen stories here that feature the first eight incarnations of the Doctor, so I won’t get into an examination of each one. The theme presented is the idea of different aspects of life that from clones to artificial intelligence as well as other entities not so easy to categorize.
David Bailey starts off with “Syntax” in which the Eighth Doctor and his companion, Izzy, arrive on a planet where a mysterious form of algae is able to exert a powerful influence on the inhabitants. It’s a pretty good story, however Izzy is not all that profound of a companion. I am not terribly familiar with this one because she appears to have been featured in the comic books. Izzy was once in a Big Finish audio play but she was not featured regularly.
“Observation” by Ian Farrington has the Fifth Doctor anxious to see the meeting between Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man, however things don’t go quite as planned, as usual. It’s a rather interesting story in which Turlough is the only one with the Doctor here.
“The Reproduction Cycle” by Matthew Griffiths has the Sixth Doctor and Peri finding that a child has been left by another previous occupant of the TARDIS. A rather surprising revelation occurs as to the origin of this baby and the effect on the two friends’ perception. I thought it was pretty cleverly presented.
“Jonah” by Todd Green has the Eighth Doctor explore the morality of using cloning as a means of healing the sick. He isn’t too pleased when he finds a doctor doing just that.
Alexander Leithes’ “The End” has the Eighth Doctor in a startling encounter with his first incarnation who reminds him of the difference between him and other time travelers. That was a nice surprise.
I also enjoyed “The Age of Ambition” by Andy Campbell in which companions Victoria Waterfield relates a story in which she returns to 1866 with the Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon and finds that an old family friend has been experimenting with reviving the dead.
Jim Mortimore’s “A Rose By Any Other Name” ends this collection in a situation where I was not sure which Doctor was featured. I think it was the Seventh, but I cannot swear to it, which is frustrating.
There are other stories that didn’t quite grab me as much, but it’s a pretty good collection for the most part. All of the anthologies in this series are engaging. It is pretty fun to figure out which Doctor comes next once a story ends. I was a rather impressed that the Sixth Doctor was featured rather heavily here considering his was not the most popular in the television series. He tends to come off considerably better in print or in the audio adventures which Big Finish produces much more prolifically.
If one can find this volume, it’s worth a look. This series is sadly out of print, so the collection of the remaining volumes is slow going.
The next literary indulgence has Dr. Alex Delaware pitching in to help his friend, Milo Sturgis, which another murder investigation in “Night Moves” by Jonathan Kellerman.