Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury
A Collection of Short Stories
|Synopsis: Christmas and Doctor Who are inextricably linked. From the moment the Daleks first appeared at yule-tide to the regular Annual under the tree, the spooky cosiness of the season has always chimed with the series's own brand of comfortable thrill.|
Six Out Of Ten by Jamas Enright 22/2/06
Although I said I'd never pick up another Big Finish collection, this one was special, so I was a little biased towards it (Hiya, Peter!). I'm not going to review everything in here, but I will pick out a few special mentions.
At first I thought I was in a lot of trouble and was going to regret getting this as I started reading Last Christmas by Simon Guerrier, but I soon relaxed into the story and ended up enjoying it immensely. Not the cheeriest tale to start the festive season with, but it's a decent story and well written, which makes it better than at attempt to jolly us along.
I wasn't quite sure what Dave Stone was intending with A Yuletide Tale, perhaps he was trying to outdo Ship of Fools with the number of deaths, but as long as you're a little thick-skinned, this is a great funny tale.
Christmas Special by Marc Platt smacked of being more than a little self-indulgent to me, but I must confess I don't get all the cultural trappings this story is wrapped up in.
Every Day by Stephen Fewell (aka. Benny Audios' Jason) starts off nice, if somewhat bizarre, but soon takes a turn for the dark. It's a haunting tale, likely to leave a strange aftertaste, but well worth the read.
You can't fault The Little Things by Paul Beardsley for the poignant moment it sets up (very nicely done), but the idea on which the story starts and most of the story elements in here just made me cringe. No, I'd rather not, thank you. (In fact, this brings me to mentioning that there are a few links in this collection, with references to other stories and elements, but while this might make the stories appear more interconnected, it just means that the collection is more concentrated around particular Doctor/companion pairs and so lacks in a real diversity of characters.)
As well as stories, there are Christmas recipes (by Paul Condon) and even a few games. While Animus, Zarbi, Menoptera by Jim Sangster is just embarrassing (unless a LOT of alcohol has been drunk), there is some originality of thought in The Game of Rassilon by Lawrence Miles, who does his version of CCGs (and it's certainly better than the actual Doctor Who CCG...) and the descriptions and special abilities are amusing even if the game is never played.
Perfect Present by Andy Campbell is another story that relies on an amazingly unlikely plot concept, and has just a hint of Mary-Sue about it.
Unless you're deep in the Benny universe as I am, I doubt the casual reader will really get ...Be Forgot by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright, but since I am, I enjoyed this tale of old acquaintances finally meeting.
Occasionally Stephen Cole proves he can write, and Evergreen is a great example of this. Keeping to the shorter format works well, and this tale is quite evocative.
While not enough to make me want to buy more, this collection has some terrific stories in it, so that's a thumbs up to editor Paul Cornell for a job well done.