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Edited by Mark Stammers & Stephen James Walker

Book review by David Lawrence

The short story genre has always intrigued me because there are so many possibilities, different approaches and ideas. So what's really disappointing about Decalog is that it's largely all been done before. Not that it's a bad collection of stories, because it isn't; it's just nothing spectacular.

Perhaps I was expecting a more balanced anthology. When something says 'Seven Doctors', you don't expect to find three of those seven Doctors hardly present at all. The Sixth and Seventh Doctors don't even get their own stories, and my favourite Doctor only appears in one story at the anthology's beginning.

Only a few stories start out. Marc Platt's Duke of Dominoes is well written and a neat concept, but unfortunately not too interesting a read. The Golden Door by David Auger is one of the better ones - his characterisation of the First Doctor is great, and this is one of the few stories that I cou1d picture as a full-length novel. The same could be said for Tim Robins' Prisoners of the Sun - if the idea hadn't already been done to death.

My favourite in the collection is Jim Mortimore's excellent The Book of Shadows. It's an intriguing story that would have made a brilliant novel; I'm only sorry he used the idea as a short story instead! Close behind is Paul Cornell's Lackaday Express, the only story that even vaguely attempts to be stylistically different. Cornell captures the personality of the Fifth Doctor well, so I've got high hopes for Goth Opera.

For a first time experiment, Decalog works relatively well, and I'm sure that the concept will improve if it continues. Decalog isn't at all bad, just unspectacular, but then the first New Adventure was pretty dire, and look where they've gone from there!

Book review by Jamas Enright

The stories ranged from brilliant to should-have-been-better. The Book of Shadows gets my vote for favourite story; Prisoners of the Sun was one that could have been better.

As a fan of The Saint, I enjoyed Andy Lane's contribution, but I thought that it was too packed. This would have worked better as a longer story, where the characters had more time to develop. As it stood, it tried to fit too many 'Saint-isms' into too smaller a space.

Fascination was a nice idea, but rather contrived. The characters seemed forced and unnatural. I expected better of David J. Howe.

The linking story Playback connected the stories well, but the last scene seemed rather unbalanced. Addison's deductions hinged on the Doctor not killing someone in cold blood or stepping on a butterfly; but he does destroy the house, the spaceship and the Maleans all without a qualm!

One question springs to mind; why was the Sixth Doctor only given half a story when the Third and Fifth had two?

An interesting read, but not even slightly canonical.

Book review by Stuart Brown

The stories vary in length and quality - my favourites were Vanessa Bishop's The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back, Mark Stammers' Scarab of Death, Paul Cornell's Lackaday Express and David J. Howe's Fascination.

Each Doctor appears although the Sixth Doctor shares his only story with the First Doctor, while one story, The Duke of Dominoes, centres mainly around the Master with a short cameo by the Doctor. Some of the stories are a bit plain and a few are slightly tedious, bit there is a small quirk at the very end of the book which picks things up.

Scarab of Death, a Fourth Doctor and Sarah story is closely linked to the background of Pyramids of Mars. We learn that Horus was not the benevolent and kind being he was cracked up to be. It also features a meeting between Sarah and Abslom Daak, much to Sarah's distaste!

The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back illustrates the Doctor's resentment of his exiled and showing the Brigadier from a different perspective.

Prisoners of the Sun by Tim Robins has an alternative Earth/UNIT setting similar to Blood Heat, though the New Adventure was far superior.

Fascination is a Fifth Doctor and Peri story about witchcraft and magic, and although less intellectual than other stories, it was just as enjoyable.

Lackaday Express had the most interesting concept of being able to relive your life at any particular moment, but not being able to return to your normal life or change things in the relived one, like a time loop. This story surpassed the others in quality.

Fallen Angel by Andy Lane was the only Second Doctor story. The ending was a bit of a cop-out and the action scenes seemed a bit dubious, although I did like the character of the Fallen Angel (maybe he will return in the future?).

Decalog could have been better but I hope it is the first in a regular series of anthologies. I recommend it to the curious, completists, and those who don't mind reading a few naff stories to find some that are truly memorable.

This item appeared in TSV 40 (July 1994).