Justin Richards takes us along with the Twelfth Doctor in six brand new stories, all set in American locations.
I think this is meant to be an exotic book for the British, but not only for them. It strikes me as funny, since the Doctor famously visits alien planets and has no problem whatsoever in talking to races that would scare a cockroach or, indeed, look like giant ones. However, the title entices: where in America will we find him?
America has a short history for European standards, but it has some of the most fantastic locations and represents, to many, the place where the best adventures can happen. As Neil Gaiman said in American Gods: “This isn’t about what is. It’s about what people think it is. It’s all imaginary anyway. That’s why it’s important. People only fight about imaginary things.”
And for imaginary adventures, well, let’s say there are plenty of places and time locations to choose from throughout US history. From a mysterious abduction inside a sand storm on the Oregon Trail… to an alien presence detected at the 1944 D-Day landings… or the inevitable ghosts that will take over New York’s subway tunnels as they’re being dug in the early 1900s… these stories have great scenarios for them.
However, it did remind me of a particular thing that happened to me when I was young and reading Sandokan. Remember him? I didn’t know there was an author behind them, and for the most part of the books, I didn’t care. Emilio Salgari was just a name on the cover. In my review copy, there is no name behind the stories, and it says it’s written by “Various” (if someone knows why, please enlighten me on the comments section). I haven’t read anything by Justin Richards before, but he did remind me of Salgari’s work: the author is not important; the adventure, the story, is what matters. Any kid anxious to read more Doctor Who books will read this one in one sitting, and will only wonder about the author much later in life.
For the curious, Richards is a British writer, and has written a lot of science fiction and fantasy novels, including series set in Victorian or early 20th century London. He has written many spin-off novels, reference books and audio plays based on Doctor Who, and he is also a Creative Consultant for the BBC Books range of Doctor Who novels.
Now, for the reader who really cares about who the author is and is a thrilled Whovian, the best short story collection is this: Doctor Who 50th Anniversary E-Shorts by Eoin Colfer, Michael Scott, Marcus Sedgwick, Philip Reeve, Patrick Ness, Richelle Mead, Malorie Blackman, Alex Scarrow, Charlie Higson, Puffin, Neil Gaiman and, last but not least, Holly Black. Each one of these twelve stories has one Doctor to explore, from the very First to the Twelfth, and is a great introduction to the work of each author in its turn.
What matters most, of course, are the stories, and the Doctor, any version of him.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.