Wednesday 15 January 2014

Ice-cold terror as the Autons march again

I’m over the moon to report that I’ve renewed my association with the greatest long-running British television show of all time.

DR WHO, has gone from strength to strength to strength in the last decade – which still seems like a miracle to yours truly, who watched and worshipped the show all through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and then was horrified and bamboozled when it suddenly got the chop – and now in 2014, only 25 years later (a matter of heartbeats to a Time Lord), there appears to be no limit. With each new twist and turn in the never-ending story, there seem to be all manner of fascinating spin-offs, creating adventure on adventure for that mysterious traveller in time and space known only (still known only, it would seem) as The Doctor.

I, for one, could not be happier, and as such over the last few years have been honoured and proud (and more delighted than I can say) to add my own chapters to the saga in the form of short stories, novels and full-blown, full-cast audio dramas.

Now I’m going piling in again with a novella, as part of a truly fascinating project. Here’s the back-story:

It was shortly before Christmas when I was approached by BBC Digital and asked if I’d be interested in participating in a new collection of four e-novellas entitled TALES OF TRENZALORE: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR'S LAST STAND, the central feature of which would be the Matt Smith Doctor’s 900-year battle on the desolate ice-world of Trenzalore, defending the isolated town of Christmas against the collected scum of all the galaxies, each novella to concentrate on his clash with a different deadly enemy.
And this was the trick – these enemies had to be genuinely DEADLY, as in major-league opponents from the Doctor’s past, hard-hitting foes who previously had pushed him to the absolute limit.

I mean seriously, what more could a writer ask for? It was an invitation I accepted straight away, especially on learning that my fellow contributors would be MARK MORRIS, JUSTIN RICHARDS and GEORGE MANN, a legendary crew in their own right, whom no fan of Dr Who, sci-fi, fantasy or horror fiction would be unfamiliar with.

Even though the festive season was right upon us, we all got to it pretty quickly. Justin was the first guy to lay claim to a beastie, if I remember rightly – opting for the Ice Warriors, while George followed quickly with the Krynoids. When Mark put his ticket in for the Mara, this still left a wide range of choices for me, including the Who enemy I found most nightmarish of all; not just the first time I first saw them in 1970, when they broke out of shop windows in the guise of showroom dummies, but the second time in 1971, when they dressed as holiday camp mascots and wielded murderous plastic flowers, and perhaps most memorably of all when they provided the first opponent for the all-new 9th Doctor in 2005.

Yep … it was the Autons, the murderous plastic mannequins manipulated by that indefinable alien force, the Nestene Consciousness.

And … well, that’s about as much as I’m really allowed to say, because it wouldn’t serve any purpose to give away too many spoilers at this stage would it? Suffice to say, the finished Table of Contents reads as follows:

Let it Snow - by Justin Richards
An Apple a Day - by George Mann
Strangers in the Outland - by Paul Finch
The Dreaming - by Mark Morris

And here’s the official online blurb:

As it had been foretold, the armies of the Universe gathered at Trenzalore. Only one thing stood between the planet and destruction – the Doctor. For nine hundred years, he defended the planet, and the tiny town of Christmas, against the forces that would destroy it.

He never knew how long he could keep the peace. He never knew what creatures would emerge from the snowy night to threaten him next. He knew only that at the end he would die on Trenzalore.

Some of what happened during those terrible years is well documented. But most of it remains shrouded in mystery and darkness.

Until now.

This is a glimpse of just some of the terrors the people faced, the monstrous threats the Doctor defeated. These are the tales of the monsters who found themselves afraid – and of the one man who was not.

TALES OF TRENZALORE: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR'S LAST STAND is released on 27th February this year, initially as an e-book only, though it is entirely possible a print edition may follow at a later date. I shall keep you informed as and when that story unfolds. But you’ll need to keep checking back here. So it’s all in your hands …