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Short Trips: A Collection of Short Stories

Edited by Stephen Cole

Book review by Paul Scoones

This first short story collection from BBC Books is promisingly free of the restrictions of length, number of stories and themes that tied Virgin's Decalog series to a set formula. Although Steve Cole offers up a theme in his introduction, it seems all too clear that it's there as an afterthought, and the stories prove this to be the case.

The best of the 15 stories is probably Paul Magrs' Old Flames. Magrs is an experienced novelist and short story writer whose first novel - Marked for Life - I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm awaiting his first full-length Doctor Who novel with keen anticipation. Other standout tales include Jonathan Blum's Model Train Set, which previously appeared in the fanzine Broadsword, Perry and Tucker's Stop the Pigeon and The Last Days by Evan Pritchard.

Paul Grice's Mondas Passing is one of the best treatments I've read of what might be termed 'post-time travel syndrome', as Ben and Polly deal with the anticipation of their past experiences of the future catching up with them as they live out the last moments of 1986 in real time. Daniel O'Mahony's The Parliament of Rats is grimly haunting in the same style that made Falls the Shadow so disturbingly memorable.

All eight Doctors are represented with a fairly even spread across eras, and the stories are for the most part of a higher standard than readers of Decalog will have come to expect. Reading the collection in order is not advised however as it means ending on a one of the weakest entries in the collection, Paul Leonard's The People's Temple Stonehenge story; how long will it be before editors realise that Leonard hasn't written anything worth reading since Venusian Lullaby...? [4/5]

This item appeared in TSV 53 (March 1998).