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VINE VOICEon 26 December 2004
This 10th Big Finish anthology of short Doctor Who fiction features 14 stories, all linked by being set in the year 2040, with a further linking thread running through a number of stories concerning the Doctor's battles against the threat of the Perseus organisation.
On a story-by-story basis, the highlights are the 5th Doctor encountering a young girl being used as a guinea pig in intelligence enhancing experiments in Andy Campbell's 'Artificial Intelligence'; the 6th Doctor finding his TARDIS caught up in the search engines of a call centre from hell in Marc Platt's 'Outsourcing'; and the 2nd Doctor grants the dying wish of an aging naturalist in Jacqueline Rayner's 'The Last Emperor'.
Reasonable tales include the 7th Doctor foiling a nuclear meltdown in Richard Salter's 'The Nuclear Option'; the 7th Doctor battling a mind parasite in Tara Samms' 'Separation'; the 8th Doctor investigating an attack on an intelligent weapons system in Huw Wilkins' 'Thinking Warrior'; a group of mathematicians who claim to be able to predict the TARDIS' travels in Xanna Eve Chown's 'Daisy Chain'; the 4th Doctor getting into some light-hearted scrapes with a female James Bond in Alexander Leithes' 'The Baron Wastes'; the 3rd Doctor comes unstuck against some gruesome aliens in Gareth Wigmore's 'Carpenter/Butterly/Baronet'; the 7th Doctor enters a bidding war for a robot in Rebecca Levene's 'Anteus'.
The misfires feature the 4th Doctor getting into a topical reality TV situation in Lance Parkin's 'Observer Effect'; a new incarnation of the Doctor foiling a bog-standard alien invasion in Matthew Griffiths' 'Sustainable Energy'; the 7th Doctor foiling another bog-standard alien invasion in Kate Orman's 'Culture War'; and John Binns ties everything up in a rushed dénouement called 'The Ethereal'.
While the individual stories are generally enjoyable, unfortunately the linking backstory is a mess, being too obscure for most of the collection, leaving the editor to rush through a virtual synopsis in the final tale rather than having the tale of the Ethereal develop through the stories themselves. The linking story also turns out to be yet another uninspired story of aliens wanting to take over the earth, which has only been done about 1,000 times before in Doctor Who.
Read it for the stories, not the backstory.
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on 4 November 2008
Overall I feel it important to bear in mind that when reading any collection of short stories that there are going to be some stories that don't cut the mustard. In this case I am sorry to say there were literally only a couple of stories I liked, my advice is pick up another Short Trips collection, give this one a miss.
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