The Heroine, The Hero and the Megalomaniac (Short Trips: A Day in the Life)

Prose Utterly superb.  Like a espresso shot of the EDAs, this is a multi-Doctor story with bite as Seventh or as he's described here, "dark and manipulative" remonstrates with Eighth about saving Charley and the implications it has for the universe.  As in the BBC books, they absolutely hate one another, philosophical polar opposites on how they should be using their gifts.  After being made aware of her presence "Dark and manipulative" clearly sees Charley has a threat that needs to be dealt with and where it not for us already knowing how her stories plays out, it feels as though she might be in mortal danger from this earlier incarnation until Eighth is able to talk him around.  Somewhat.

Told from three parallel points of view on the story as per the title, for Charley, for the Doctor and the Baron, the proto-Sabbath who's in charge of the colony with a suspicious technology but wants to rule the universe, it's not quite a Rashomon affair since were just getting more information on the same series of events, rather than anything contradictory.  But writer Ian Mond is  nevertheless able to utilise the structure to provide a couple of good twists in our expectations ultimately in a way which shows that no matter which daft old face the Doctor has and whatever his methods, they're still the same being inside with the roughly similar goals.

Placement:  Another story which references Seasons of Fear but no later, so I'll put it in the gap between that and Embrace the Darkness.  One of the strengths of the story is it feels of a piece with the rest of that season with Charley's status an important point.  

Before Midnight (Short Trips: A Day in the Life)

Prose This is the second half or first half or first quarter and last quarter of After Midnight and having read both it makes about as much sense as Dimensions in Time.  I understand the concept now, that these are the stories at either end of an anthology which takes place across 24 hours, albeit in different parts of space and time.  But in an effort to also join all of those stories together and suggest that a submerged consciousness is experiencing all of those tales in a time loop, it's the expression of that time loop and how it's created which isn't quite enunciated properly, especially the bit about the Doctor and his friends inhabiting the bodies of their former selves.  Still, it's at least pretty entertaining and its good to have some fun C'rizz action which doesn't involving him moping about something or other.

Placement: After After Midnight.

After Midnight (Short Trips: A Day in the Life)

Prose   As you will have gathered, I'm reading this Short Trips in isolation so I know that with After Midnight as the opening story in this anthology and Before Midnight as the closer, that some of the mysteries will be explained later.  As it stands this is a pretty fun round around in which the Doctor, Charley and yes C'rizz go to extraordinary lengths to thwart an intergalactic jewel thief.  The reveal of how they become part of the story I won't spoil, but it's in a way which wouldn't work quite the same in another medium as the prose style subtly shifts and its refreshing to have a story which doesn't read like a novelisation.

Placement:  C'rizz seems very confused by Earth customs so I'll put it just after Terror Firma.

Reversal of Fortune (Short Trips: Steel Skies)

Prose Placement:   There's nothing in this story to suggest the Doctor's appearance are concurrent from his point of view, but assuming they are it feels later in his travels, so between Shada and the Marys.

Perhaps Reversal of Fortune is just a bit too short to fully explore the premise.  Graeme Burk's prose captures the tragedy of a life led in the past, something most of us could do with internalising.  Which makes it difficult to read in places.  It's told in a reverse order from the protagonists perspective and although it seems to be the Doctor's dropping by in the opposite chronological direction it seems more jumbled up than that.  Like Greenaway in the same collection, another story about the Doctor visiting someone at various stages in their life.  They're also often so short that you can't really talk about them as individual pieces in any meaningful way without repeating yourself or try to do anything interesting.  I'm catching up on a number of these Short Trips, which is why the blog's overrun with them at the moment so as not to leave gaps in the Eighth Doctor checklist.

Faithful Friends: Part 3 (Short Trips: The Ghosts of Christmas)

Prose   This is the final entry in a trilogy of stories about the Brigadier at Christmas across his life.  Alistair awakens on the 25th December to find Eighth and Charley putting together a large lunch for a number of invited guests, a who's who of the old soldier's life.  When Osgood's introduced, it took me a moment to remember this was written in 2007 and it didn't mean her.  Side note:  Although Steven Moffat intended Petronella to be the daughter of Tom Osgood, presumably the man mentioned here, Dave Rudden took it upon himself to give her a whole different father and family in The Wintertime Paradox who may or may not have been involved at UNIT.  Perhaps Tom's her uncle instead.

Placement:  Has to be after Minuet in Hell but before The Shadows of Avalon (when the Brig was rejuvenated) which is narratively impossible but chronologically fine.  The less said about CyberBrig, the better.  Let's say they popped in after Seasons of Fear wanting a break.

Greenaway (Short Trips: Steel Skies)

Prose  One of the genre of stories in which the Doctor confronts the consequences of ordinary people becoming involved in his extraordinary adventures.  Over time various incarnations, including Eighth, visit a dying man, trying but failing to help him after he aided them in fighting a dangerous threat.  Perhaps the most interesting element of the story is the inclusion of a future Doctor, based according to the writer Peter Anghelides, on one of his university friends, with ginger hair, a big afghan coat smelling of patchouli oil.  The TARDIS Datacore has a whole entry for this incarnation offering various appearances and implying he's the source of the running joke after regenerations about still not being ginger.

Placement:  Eighth's behaviour suggests that for him this is early when he's still trying to sort out some of his past mistakes.

For the Man Who Has Everything (Short Trips: The Ghosts of Christmas)

Prose  Another brilliant entry from The Ghosts of Christmas anthology.  Spin-off veteran Dan Abnett offers up a two hander in which the Doctor chases a cosmic wish-giving bauble to the office of the Home Secretary and finds himself comforting the politician's private secretary spending another festive season alone.  As she outlines her years long platonic relationship with her boss, the Doctor reflects on how this reminds him of how he treats his companions and friends.  A lovely, well written story in which the Eighth Doctor's personality shines through.

Placement: Early, in the period after his regeneration when it feels like he trying to make amends and discover who he is.

Doctor Who and the Adaptation of Death (Short Trips: Transmissions)

Prose  Delightful.  Graeme Burk wrote one of my favourite tales in the original BBC anthologies, Turnabout Is Fair Play from Short Trips and Side Steps and he brings the same kind of Adamsian humour to this story of a screenwriter put on trial by a race of aliens for their portrayal in his movie adaptation of an alien invasion.  They're annoyed with the dumbing down of one of their heroes and the Doctor's omission from events.  

Cross cutting between parts of the script (to represent the film) and prose for the actual events (as drawn from the Doctor's own mind), Burke is discussing our predilection for nit-picking drama which allows excitement to make way for facts.  Burk knows his stuff (having authored several non-fiction books about Who)  There's an immensely funny joke about film studies based on a deeeep cut.

But there are many funny jokes.  Across its dozen or so pages, there more wit and excitement than a lot of Doctor Who and it's a real shame Burk hasn't had the opportunity to write something longer, assuming he has the interest. 

Placement:  Burk mentions the Doctor and Charley have been travelling together for years so I'm minded to place this between Embrace The Darkness and Time of the Daleks - any later than that and it's after the Divergent Universe and the tone doesn't feel right for then.

They Fell (Short Trips: The Ghosts of Christmas)

Prose   Absolutely lovely.  A Christmas chiller about a little girl who's family is acting strangely this has everything you'd want from an Eighth Doctor story, from entertaining clattering about in TARDIS console room, funny banter between him and Charley, the genuine sense that he's enjoying himself and that kind of indefinable magic and brief following that reliable writer like Scott Handcock brings time and again.  

This is from 2007, which would have been early in his Who career, but it's all there and redolent of a number of episodes in the Moffat era a few years later, Zoe sometimes coming across as a proto-Amelia and all the talk of Angels.  When he's caught correctly, the Eighth Doctor on the page comes across as Tenth without the "Weeellll...." and that's what you get here.

Placement: In the gap between seasons.  The Doctor and Charley are comfortable with one another and there isn't any angst.  They're described as laughing and giggling with one another.

Nettles (Short Trips: Transmissions)

Prose  Sigh, they can't all be great and my suspicion is a few of these stories don't work well outside of their anthology position where they become swept up with the other tales creating an overall mood.  After reading this Short Trip it took a look at the TARDIS Data Core page to work out what Nettles was about.  It seemed to be a relitigating of the virus scene from Genesis of the Daleks, "Davros if you had created a virus in your laboratory something contagious and infectious that killed on contact a virus that would destroy all other forms of life would you allow its use?" that sort of thing.  But the wiki actually explains that its about Eighth creating a silent revolution by convincing a geneticist to engage in eugenics so that eventually the people will be physically strong enough to overthrow the government.  To be honest, I hate that idea even more.  Only reflection it is in there, but honesty I don't think it's clear enough.  Either way it feels more like something the Seventh Doctor would do.  Eighth is more prone to direct action, life's champion and all that.

Placement: Early.  Between The Eight Doctors and The Dying Days when he's still cooking, trying to discover what kind of man he is.