Book Review: Target: The Doctor

Doctor Who: The Target Storybook by [Terrance Dicks, Matthew Sweet, Simon Guerrier, Colin Baker, Matthew Waterhouse, Jenny T Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Una McCormack, Steve Cole, Vinay Patel, George Mann, Susie Day, Mike Tucker, Joy Wilkinson, Beverly Sanford]

The Target Storybook is a Doctor Who anthology released from BBC Books last year.  It is comprised of fifteen short stories crossing most of the Doctor’s incarnation, including a new story featuring the current iteration currently played by Jodie Whittaker.  I am not going to try to review every story here, but I will try to make my overall impression as riveting as I can.

The Thirteenth Doctor kicks off the collection with Gatecrashers by Joy Wilkinson, and it’s a decent enough start to this.  The now deceased Terrance Dicks had just enough time to contribute a story here entitled Save Yourself.  Since the idea is to celebrate the Target novelizations of the classic episodes, it would be a significant oversight to not have something from the man who penned most of those installments in that range.  It hits the right nostalgia chords to have him contribute to this one.  A couple of the series actors also had something to write.  Matthew Waterhouse, who had played Adric during the era of the Fifth Doctor, brings us The Dark River.  The Sixth Doctor himself, Colin Baker, joins in with Interstitial Security.  The Doctor has a little side journey within the Matrix during his trial where he has to outwit the Valeyard.  There are a few names not immediately recognizable to me such as Beverly Sanford and the previously mentioned Joy Wilkinson. More familiar names such as George Mann, Una McCormack, and Jacqueline Rayner are also included.

The idea here was to have stories that were in some way connected to the television series.  There was some effort to fill in a few plot holes that have floated around for decades for us fans.  The more notable attempt was Dicks’ contribution which attempted to explain how the Second Doctor was doing missions for the Time Lords when he was supposed to have been forced to regenerate and sent to Earth in exile.  This would be the fabled Season 6B which is an idea of further adventures for the Second Doctor where he was acting on behalf of the Time Lords before facing the sentence which is more familiar to the old viewers.

So how is this latest literary version of the infamous Time Lord?  It’s kind of fun in an underwhelming sort of way.  There is some creativity in some of the stories.  It’s something that turns out not to be awful, but I think prefer just brand new adventures in my Doctor Who novels and short stories.

It’s fine for the fans to check it out, but it wouldn’t be a very good introduction for those new to the series.

Sam Siciliano has returned to Titan Books pairing Sherlock Holmes up with his cousin, Dr. Henry Vernier.  The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes continue on with The Venerable Tiger.

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