About the Author:
Dave Rudden has worked as an actor and a teacher and lives in Dublin, Ireland.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.5 out of 5
Doctor Who: The Wintertime Paradox
A follow-up to 'Twelve Angels Weeping' which features twelves stories themed around Christmas. As well as various incarnations of the Doctor (including the Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth), the stories feature familiar characters such as the Paternoster Gang, Petronella Osgood and Missy, not to mention old enemies like Davros, the Sontarans and the Cybermen.
Rudden has an excellent grasp of what Who fans want to read and, like with his previous anthology, gives us a whole bunch of takes on exactly that. Of the twelve stories on offer, four in particular stood out for me. The first, 'We Will Feed You to the Trees', was just a great sinister mystery in which the Seventh Doctor has to confront a colony which has made human sacrifice part of their seasonal traditions. 'A Girl Called Doubt' is the story of a world devastated by the Cybermen and put me in mind of Series 12's 'Ascension of the Cybermen'. The return of the brilliant Paternoster Gang (Strax is just the best) in another story was another high point for me too, just as their appearance in the previous anthology had been (and this is something of a sequel to that story too).
The overall best story here, for me at least, was 'A Day to Yourselves'. It features the recently-regenerated Ninth Doctor struggling with his guilt over his part in the Time War and suffering from a deep loneliness. As he travels the universe trying to distract himself from his pain his adventures keep getting interrupted by the interference of his future selves. I loved the idea that the Tenth-through-Thirteenth Doctors are all so aware of how raw and in pain the Ninth is that they can't help bending the Laws of Time in an attempt to bring him a little bit of peace.
All that said, however, I couldn't help but feel that this book was inferior to 'Twelve Angels Weeping'. It's hard to pin down exactly why, but there's a definite feeling that Rudden's best short story ideas went into the first anthology and these are, mostly, the second string ones. I also wasn't a big fan of the attempt to create a linking narrative between the various stories, with reflective interludes after certain stories which then play into the final story of the anthology, 'The Paradox Moon'. I just don't think we needed an attempt to link all of these tales together like that. We already have the Doctor to do that and the festive theme. That was enough for me. It certainly didn't help that this final story was one of the weaker ones of the book.
3 out of 5
Doctor Who: Twelve Angels Weeping
An anthology of twelve short stories, each focusing on one of the Doctor's famous antagonists; Weeping Angels, Ice Warriors, Time Lords, Cybermen, Silence, Sontarans, Silurians, Ood, Zygons, Daleks, Judoon and the Master. Although not every story features the Doctor, the Fourth (Tom Baker), War (John Hurt), Eleventh (Matt Smith), Twelfth (Peter Capaldi) and Thirteenth (Jodie Whittaker) incarnations all make appearances.
Although the introduction to the book references the 'halfway out of the dark' speech from the 2010 Christmas special and makes a point of midwinter festivals across the galaxy, this is not really a Christmas themed anthology. Certainly not in the way 'Twelve Doctors of Christmas' (reviewed here) was. Instead the theme is very much focused on the villains of the Whoniverse with various other famous baddies woven into the narratives of the main twelve, including the Sycorax, the Rani, the Racnoss and the Krillitanes.
As with any anthology, there are good stories here and not-so-good ones, but Rudden keeps the book fresh throughout by using different narrative styles and tones for each story. For example, as well as standard narratives, we also get the internal thoughts of a Cyberman in battle or the computerised briefing of a Sontaran warrior straight out of the cloning vats. Each with very different formats, the first of these is very sombre and melancholy, whilst the second is the comical highlight of the book. I particularly liked the history of all the times courageous Sontarans have defeated the Doctor by achieving their ultimate goal of dying bravely in battle.
Although the Weeping Angels story and the Silurians one, the latter featuring the Paternoster Gang (whom I love), were strong contenders for my favourite story of the bunch, it has to go to 'The Third Wise Man' featuring the iconic Daleks. That story takes us into the early years of the Time War and has the War Doctor, my favourite incarnation, confronting Davros and his latest creation; the Nightmare Child.
Overall, a really enjoyable anthology. Sure there are some lulls, but the majority is entertaining Who fare in which everyone will be able to find their favourite villain. (Unless, for some insane reason, the Slitheen are your favourites. Weirdo.)
4 out of 5