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2024 Hugo Awards Progress
29 items read/watched / 57 total (50.88%)
3215 / 7751 pages read (41.48%)
495 / 1360 minutes watched (36.40%)

27 December 2023

Doctor Who at Christmas: Ten Days of Christmas

Doctor Who: Ten Days of Christmas
by Steve Cole

Longtime readers of my blog will know that every year since 2011, I have read a Christmas-themed Doctor Who book around Christmastime. I keep thinking I am done with this project. Last year, for example, I had no book to read, so instead I read a bunch of Christmas-themed Doctor Who short stories that had never been collected. But BBC Books keeps finding a way to extend the duration of this project; this year they released Ten Days of Christmas, a new short story collection (and early next year will release the novelization of the 2023 Christmas special, giving me something to read in 2024).

Published: 2023
Acquired and read: December 2023

The title Ten Days of Christmas has a double meaning: it contains ten stories of course (though really nine, as there's one story split into two parts), but also they are all stories about "Ten," i.e., they all feature David Tennant's incarnation of the Doctor. This means you have a bit less variety than in any other of BBC Books's Christmas collections; the main choice there is for the writer is which companion the Doctor will be traveling with. (There's two stories with Rose, one with Donna, and one with Martha, though some of the stories where the Doctor is alone feature other returning characters.)

The book also suffers from a lack of variety due to its single author. Now, the previous two Doctor Who Christmas books were also the work of a single author... but it should come as no surprise that Steve Cole is not Dave Rudden. Most of these are generic Doctor Who adventures compressed into thirty pages, with little of the tone, style, or theme to make them into any kind of meaningful Christmas story; usually, Christmas feels tacked on. Or, if not tacked on, forced. There's one set in a toy factory, so sure, that's Christmassy... but then it's not really about Christmas presents in any kind of meaningful way, and it turns out to be what every Doctor Who fan wanted for Christmas, a sequel to The Android Invasion!

Well, maybe not.

There were just two stories that worked for me. The first was "The Eternal Present," which didn't really have anything to do with Christmas, but was a well-told character-focused story about an Englishman before World War II who goes on an expedition into the South American jungle with the Doctor and Rose and ends up discovering something amazing and dangerous. (It is, for some reason, a tie-in to Black Orchid, but you can ignore that.) Good sense of voice and some creepy scenes. The best story in the book is "Saviours," about a human space colony where vampires crash on Christmas day. This is the one story that captures something of what I think of as the Christmas vibe, the feeling of holding back the darkness with our love for one another. It's also creepy and well told, alternating between a child protagonist and a mysterious narrator. If they'd all been this good it would have been an excellent collection but alas.

I read a Doctor Who Christmas book every year. Next up in sequence: The Church on Ruby Road

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