Fiction Reviews

Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder

(2023) Mark Morris, BBC Books, £9.99 / Can$19.99 / US$13.99, pbk, 161pp, ISBN 978-1-785-94846-6


A ship at the edge of the universe. A robot with a secret. A sinister presence. The Doctor and Donna are trapped on board a mysterious spaceship. Fate of the crew: unknown. Fate of the universe if what’s on board gets out: terminal.

“Wild Blue Yonder” was the second of the 60th anniversary specials that were broadcast in 2023, marking the transition from Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor to what everyone expected was going to Ncuti Gatwa’s 14th Doctor, except when Jodie did her glowing face and hands routine she regeneration into… David Tennant!  Well, that was a surprise. Tennant obviously had unfinished business from his incarnation as the tenth Doctor, and now he is back with his old companion, Donna Noble, who has had her memories restored of their time together and her head hasn’t melted in the process. So all is well, friends reunited, the Doctor has a new-look TARDIS, with an added coffee machine, but Donna being Donna, accidentally spills her cup of coffee all over the TARDIS’ controls and suddenly there is fire and explosions and the TARDIS is in flight, with the potential to take them anywhere in time and space, and they might not like what they find when the TARDIS finally stops.

But first, a prologue, as a stricken TARDIS takes the Doctor and Donna back to 1666 and a certain Mr. Newton as an apple drops on his head, just before the TARDIS lands in a tree and the Doctor and Donna can’t resist some wordplay about the “gravity of the situation” but immediately after this bewildering encounter Newton begins to formulate some theories about…now what was it, again? Ah, yes, mavity.

Then we are into the story proper as the Doctor and Donna are belched out of a distressed TARDIS into a huge, seemingly abandoned spaceship. What has happened to the crew? Where are they? Could they be at the edge of everything, with nothing beyond? Or is there something out there, wanting to cross over into our space, our reality? And what would happen if they do? The Doctor and Donna might be alone, but there is a robot way in the distance, and is it deactivated, or is it moving, albeit incredibly slowly? Speaking about time, there is also a clock, ominously ticking down, which the reader can’t avoid thinking about as the chapter titles reflect the countdown.

Mark Morris is a huge Doctor Who fan, and I mean a HUGE lifelong fan, and while he has written original Doctor Who novels, as well as audio adventures and short stories about the fifth, seventh, eighth and tenth Doctors and ventured into Torchwood territory, this is a dream come true for him to adapt Russell T. Davies script as a Target novel. He plays it with a pretty straight bat in the prologue and eleven chapters he has written, with a faithful following of the broadcasted episode.

The interesting thing about this episode and the previous one – “The Star Beast” – is that the ending sets up the next episode, when the Doctor and Donna return to Earth and find it in chaos, but why? And could the Doctor be responsible for these dire events because of his actions on the vast spaceship be invoking superstition in a place where the veil between universes and dimensions is gossamer-thin? All of that was to be revealed in the next special episode “The Giggle” which has been adapted by James Goss, but more of that another time, suffice to say that in Wild Blue Yonder, Mark Morris has done a fine job of adapting screen to page and capturing the creepiness of the vast setting and vast emptiness beyond the confines of the spaceship, as well, as some of the frankly, horrific scenes involving things that looked like the Doctor and Donna, but certainly weren’t anything like them.

All in all, another essential Target book for Who-addicts everywhere.

Ian Hunter


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