Monday, 23 February 2015

SEASONS OF WAR: Tales From A Time War - ed. Declan May (2015) PART 6

[Seasons of War is a charity Doctor Who short story collection, edited by Declan May, with all proceeds going to the Caudwell Children charity.  It's a long book, with a lot of stories, so I'll be reviewing it in chunks of 4-6 stories at a time over the next week or so…]

Damn, and that's the stakes raised.  'Guerre' by Alan P. Jack and Declan May continues the theme of Doctor as Bastard seen in the earlier May-penned vignettes, but leavened now with a slightly softer (and older) War Doctor.  One weary of killing, but forced to kill, aware of the necessities of war but equally cognisant that those necessities can change a man.  This story (set, very effectively in World War I), even though it doesn't feature the most radical depiction of the Doctor, has convinced me that this is not the man we knew any longer.  He's not even, by this point, a variation on the Doctoral theme really.  This War Doctor is a man for whom the choices available keep narrowing until even the unthinkable is possible.  In terms of the plot, it does seem a little convenient that Vincent just happened to be returning home as the Doctor landed, but coincidence is hardly the worst of plotting sins.

The second short 'Girl with Purple Hair' story meanwhile is short and to the point, though again showing a very weary Doctor contemplating death, and serves as a coda to the story preceding it.  Hard to say anything further without giving everything away...

'V. Lady Leela' completes a triumvirate of consecutive Declan May shorts - and manages to be the bloodiest of the three stories.  Again, it's sufficiently short that too much discussion will give away too much away, but suffice it to say that I thought the characterisation of our favourite savage turned implausible army wife was spot-on and exactly how I imagine Leela would react to the Time War.

In passing, it's a pleasure to observe the way in which the editor has shaped the flow of stories.  Too often people think that deciding the running order in a short story collection is simply a matter of making sure no two consecutive stories have too similar a plot, but Declan May demonstrates here that the order of stories can create a story of sorts itself.  Impressive. to buy the ebook.  There's a paperback (and reviews of the next few stories) yet to come...

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