Cover by Two Associates/Woodlands books
INTO THE NOWHERE
TIME TRIPS BOOK 2
JENNY T. COLGAN
Publisher: BBC Books/Ebury Publishing
Published: 16 January 2014
On the cover:
(From the publisher's website.)
The Eleventh Doctor and Clara land on an unknown alien planet. To the Doctor’s delight and Clara’s astonishment, it really is unknown. It’s a planet the Doctor has never seen. It’s not on any maps, it’s not referenced on any star charts or in the TARDIS data banks. It doesn’t even have a name. What could be so terrible that its existence has been erased?
This novella opens with the interesting premise that there is actually something that neither the Doctor nor the TARDIS knows anything about. Anyone familiar with Doctor Who will be aware that this is like having a giant red button with the words "Do not press this button" below. For the Doctor it is an irresistible invitation to find out what happens. The premise was refreshing, but what was more interesting to me was how it played out. Especially how it made Clara feel at the beginning of the story.
Clara is somewhat of a stand in for the reader here, but she has some very interesting thoughts on how the Doctor reacts to his lack of a clue as to what is going on. I won't spoil the details for anyone, but what she goes through in the story, and the conversation she has with the Doctor about it later, s to my mind something really significant. It brings another level of realism to a long established character. Not an entirely new insight, but the way it is presented, and handled, here adds some depth. The extra introspection that the written format affords does allow Colgan to delve just that little bit deeper, and it does give the story that little bit extra.
The story itself more or less follows the standard pattern for a Doctor Who story; He, and the companion, land on a planet, something is not quite right, the Doctor runs off to find out what is going on. But things aren't quite as simple as that outline suggests here, there is an undercurrent that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
However, the undercurrent doesn't overpower the base story. The basic adventure story is absolutely enjoyable in its own right. It is one of the Doctor stories that leans more towards the scary side of the spectrum. There is a real sense of danger, and there is plenty of suspense throughout. You might be convinced that nothing major can happen in a novella from such a big TV-series, but Colgan's writing leads to a sense of peril that at times is so high that you will forget about that.
There is also a very good resolution to this story, one that didn't in any way feel like it was forced. Of course the Doctor does his thing, but this time it isn't something that is pulled more or less out of thin air. It was a pleasing ending, and a very fitting one to the story that preceded it.
Overall this is a very good Doctor Who story. It has all the ingredients that make the Doctor such a good character to follow on an adventure, and they are used to great effect by Colgan. This is a tightly written story that has everything a story needs. The beginning makes perfect sense, if you are familiar with the Doctor (- and if you are not you will understand him by the end of the story), it then builds nicely up towards a satisfying ending. This is not just a good Doctor Who story, but a good novella in itself.
For fans of Doctor Who, and especially the eleventh Doctor and Clara, this is an absolute must. For those that want a quick Science Fiction novella this should also be a satisfying little adventure. And even though it is early days in the series yet, it looks like Time Trips will be an excellent first trip into written Doctor Who for those that haven't ventured there before.