Monday, June 22, 2015

Decalog

OK, so I admit this took me a while. Depression, losing a job, getting a new job and intensive training, and all-around burnout will do that to a woman. But I did finally finish Decalog, and I have thoughts!

Because this is a collection of short stories, I'll break this down by author:

"Playback," Stephen James Walker
A solid introduction, this is doing what you expect a prologue to do: set the stage. It's a frame sequence that allows the others to do whatever they want, but provides a theme. In this case, it's that the Doctor has lost his memory and goes to a PI to help him figure out who he is. The PI, in turn, intuits something is weird about this guy and takes him to a psychometrist to try to figure things out.

Naturally, this being the Doctor, that means we have a ready excuse to use any of the Doctors at all, and naturally all of them are used, some more than once. And we start with the Second Doctor in...

"Fallen Angel, "Andy Lane
Plot: The Second Doctor teams up with a gentleman thief to stop alien robots from causing problems in the English countryside.

I liked this one. It took me a few minutes to figure out which Doctor we were on, and the character of Lucas Seyton isn't as deep as he thinks he is, but it hit all the right notes and it was an engaging read. I did like it better than Lucifer Rising, for what it's worth, and Lane proves he can characterize other Doctors than Seven without missing a beat.

"Duke of Dominos," Marc Platt
Plot: The Master is trying to take over the Universe, and he has found an important key! Will he be stopped in time?

This one is written from the Master's point of view, and I love that! I'm not sure it pulled it off, mind you, but at least it tried. Yes, the Master gets a few digs in at the Doctor, who in this case turns out to be the Fourth. The Doctor is more in the story in spirit than in actual body, and I didn't mind that much. Well done.

"The Straw That Broke the Camel's Back," Vanessa Bishop
Plot: Three detects an alien whose gaze kills people, while he has a fallout with the Brig.

I have to say this is my least favorite in the volume. As I write this, there is a big fooferaw going on in the fandom community about "message fiction," and while I like my stories to have an moral and ethical center, I think this one could be cited as one that delivers it with a club. It's almost toy-tie-in-cartoon levels of "Do you get it? DO YOU?" Three deserved better.

"Scarab Of Death," Mark Stammers
Plot: Four and Sarah Jane are up against a cult trying to resurrect one of the Osirans.

I loved this one. It's very cinematic and captures that era of Who beautifully. Evil cult leaders, dark and dusty city streets, "I suppose you're wondering why you're here" pontificating - perfect. It's not the strongest story, but it's close!

"The Book of Shadows," Jim Mortimore
Plot: In a Barbara-centric story that jumps back and forth through time, the First Doctor has to make a hard decision about changing history - more than one line.

This one starts out pretty confusing and then unknots itself nicely. I do like the characterization, and Mortimore is good at ending lines for each scene. I can see people dropping out because of the confusion early on, though, so my advice is to stick with it.

"Fascination," David J. Howe
Plot: Peri and Five arrive in a perfect village. So, of course, it isn't - and Peri is the target of dark magic.

This one has all of the ingredients for a story I should like, but the fact that I can't abide Peri makes it hard for me to care. I suppose that's a sign of good characterization, but for the life of me I can't see what the Doctor sees in her. It might not help that I've seen magic in Who done so well in City of the Dead with the Eighth Doctor. It's not a bad story, but it's solidly Eh.

"The Golden Door," David Auger
Plot: Dodo and Steven don't recognize the elderly First Doctor. Meanwhile, they DO recognize the Sixth and there's some mysterious guy trying to scare them!

Another solidly Eh story. Dodo can only cling to Steven so many times and deny knowing One before I roll my eyes, and I found myself skipping pages. Not good. The good side: Six and One are well-drawn. Meh.

"Prisoners of the Sun," Tim Robins
Plot: The Third Doctor is pitted against UNIT colleagues in a future he never expected. And who is to blame but Liz...and the Doctor's own knowledge!

Argh argh argh. This is a neat concept, but it's not so well-written. I want to see what someone like Andy Lane could do with this idea, because it's a good one. I like the idea of the Doctor's knowledge. given to someone else, and then used to derail time. But I don't like the idea that the Doctor himself can muck around with time with nothing more than his bare hands, and I felt like there was a lot of detail that could have been better-expressed. Again, Three deserves better!

"Lackaday Express," Paul Cornell
Plot: Five, Nyssa and Tegan must save a woman who is trapped in a time loop, doomed to live her own life over and over and over. But, of course, attempting to save her might destroy the Universe...

This story starts out as confusing as "The Book of Shadows," and Cornell is, as always, equal to the task of sorting it out. He doesn't disappoint on the one-liners, either: "Your refusal to come to terms with your personal life may quite possibly mean the end of the entire cosmos!" Hee. And the ending is, of course, perfect. Yes, this is the best in the book, and I am becoming a raving Paul Cornell fangirl. I'm OK with that.

"Playback (ending)," Stephen James Walker
Plot: Finishing up the frame story, the PI must solve the riddle of why the Doctor can't remember any of this.

It's passable, and it certainly does wrap things up well! I could have done without the villain being one from an earlier story, but it will do just fine.

Next up: Legacy!

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back, and good to read your thoughts on these stories!

    ReplyDelete