Big Finish
Short Trips: Steel Skies
A Collection of Short Stories

Editor John Binns Cover image
Published 2003

Synopsis: A collection of stories based in enclosed and artificial environments.


Two out of Five by Jamas Enright 20/96/04

Yes, it's time for another Big Finish short story anthology. Big Finish are really churning these things out, which isn't necessarily a good thing. It's not that these books are bad, it's just that they aren't good. This latest anthology is edited by John Binns, who last presented us with Short Trips: A Universe of Terrors. Once again, this isn't necessarily a good thing.

First up is Corridors of Power by Matthew Griffiths. This story wants to make a point, and waits right up to the end to hammer it in. Unfortunately, the point is one that has been well hammered in other, better, stories, so is just annoying here.

A Good Life by Simon Guerrier is somewhat hampered by the fact that it is in this collection, which removes one of the big surprises in this story. And it doesn't explain one of the big mysteries (or rather, it does explain it, but then doesn't explain why everyone else thinks it's a mystery).

Reversal of Fortune by Graeme Burk takes a bit of a twist with the story telling, but it works. We're given enough information to keep going with the story, although it is an incredibly downbeat story. In many ways, it is rather surprising that the Doctor doesn't try to change events, but keeping the timelines pure is a tricky concept in Doctor Who.

Monitor by Huw Wilkins is a great wee piece of a story, which is one of the biggest problems. It is really only a piece of story! Will someone please give this chap his own novel? (I am, of course, assuming Huw is male. Big Finish don't include any biographical information, as other collections do, so there is no way of telling.)

Dust by Paul Leonard is another annoying story. I completely fail to care about the person, so it doesn't bother me about what he did. The ending, however, is a nice touch of something different.

Light at the End of the Tunnel by Mark Wright is the first of the Doctor/Peri stories. It definitely reads as an interlude between stories, and takes up space more than anything else. Not a bad story, but nothing great either.

No Exit by Kate Orman is another depressing story. It's never quite clear just how Tegan gets the information other than by authorial device. What happens to this colony, however, is a pretty good example of just how different these short stories can be.

House by Jeremy Daw is the second Doctor/Peri story. It's a nice story with a good build-up, but the revelation of the truth behind what is going on is more convenience than anything else.

Deep Stretch by Richard Salter seems kinds of odd to be a third Doctor/Jo story. (I'd hate to ever admit Lawrence Miles has a point, but some stories do seem inappropriate for some Doctors.) It's a simple story, but a good one.

Inmate 280 by Cavan Scott is about ten pages long, and that's one of the better comments about it. My life would have been just as fulfilled if I had never heard about this story, let alone read it.

Doing Time by Lance Parkin is a strange story, in that it is fair (as such) what happens to the people, as they do deserve it, but Lance Parkin makes the characters so likeable you almost wish they didn't have to go through it. Which I guess means: nice work that man.

The Ruins of Heaven by Marc Platt is the third Doctor/Peri story, and is a concept piece. It's not a piece that inspires joy or sadness, just the sense that the story reached its end and it's time to turn the page.

Cold War by Rebecca Levene is a good story. One of the few good stories in this collection. The twist caught me, but in a good way. The ending tries to be depressing, but doesn't quite make it there.

O, Darkness by John Binns is... stupid. That's the only word that comes to mind. It's obvious what the big surprise is, and it isn't clear just how the situation ended up like it did, other than by purely stupidity. However, points for setting a story in E-Space.

Greenaway by Peter Anghelides can be skipped, frankly. It is pointless in more ways than can be described, and I have no idea why anyone would bother to write this, let alone read it.

Eternity by Jonathan Blum addresses a point rarely raised in the series, that is about how long it really takes to travel in the TARDIS from one place to another. However, if this is how the characters act, I can see why. Can I suggest Valium for anyone? The characters... the author... the readers... anyone?

So, not a collection to inspire one to heights of glorious fantasy. In fact, I've had enough. No more. These collections are just not worth it, and I have brought my last one. It's Doctor Who fiction, but I prefer good Doctor Who fiction.