Doctor Who: THE TARGET STORYBOOK Punting Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: THE TARGET STORYBOOK Punting Review

Christopher Morley's confused. May week's in June!

Turn off your mind, relax & float downstream as we take a leisurely sail down the Cam in Susie Day's Punting. The fourth entry in the recently released Target Storybook, and one which goes some way to explaining the Fourth Doctor's near complete absence from The Five Doctors, Borusa's little game hitting a snag during his attempt to snatch him out of time as instead of ending up alongside his three predecessors & the man he would become in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, he's left trapped in the Time Vortex while his other incarnations work out exactly why they've been asked to take part in the Game of Rassilon...

“Well, at least with something as simple as a punt nothing can go wrong. No co-ordinates, no dimensional stabilisers, nothing. Just the water, the punt, a strong pair of hands and a pole. “
Not that its worth winning, the founder of Time Lord society as we know it finds out the hard way prior to a resurrection which sees him leading them to war & manipulating the then-latest incarnation of a man who had once appeared rather toasty before fleeing the aforementioned war, hiding out at the end of the universe with a disguise so good he hoodwinks even himself before another regeneration & a spell as Prime Minister.

We'll return to the business of the Time War later, though - its early stirrings feature in Mike Tucker's The Slyther Of Shoreditch for the Seventh Doctor, and Decoy, George Mann's second attempt at writing for the Doctor who was there the day it was impossible to get it right, hints of helping where he can also in Steve Cole's preceding We Can't Stop What's Coming for the Eighth.

No less pressing for the man he is here is the Time Scoop, strictly illegal but nevertheless used however cackhandedly with painful implications for him, as well as the man he'll become after a rather nasty fall & those both had been beforehand.

A replacement for him is called in while all this is going on as Borusa devotes everything to clearing a nice easy path for himself, the Doctor able to make a sort of connection to his past & attempting to talk to the pairing of his Second self & the Brigadier as they bicker their way through a tunnel - but neither hears him.
DOCTOR : It's just as I feared. We're on Gallifrey, in the Death Zone.
BRIGADIER: You know this place?
DOCTOR : To my shame. Yes, mine, Brigadier, and that of every other Time Lord. In the days before Rassilon, my ancestors had tremendous powers which they misused disgracefully. They set up this place, the Death Zone, and walled it around with an impenetrable force field, and then they kidnapped other beings and set them down here.
The duo had of course enjoyed a reunion of sorts in the only previous multi-Doctor story as they fought to stop Omega doing his thing!

Similar real-world bickering would threaten Day's very participation in the Target project owing to her taking offence at apparently transphobic comments made by Gareth Roberts on Twitter, his story went unused after she refused to share printspace with him - he subsequently walked away, but was still paid for his work, as reported by the ( black?) Guardian.

Fans & fellow authors had apparently called for him to step away, & as he himself said...
“BBC Books immediately folded to these demands, and I was informed that although I would be paid, my story would not be published, as they judged – wrongly, in my opinion – that a potential boycott would make the book ‘economically unviable’.
Proof positive that all this technology isn't always a good thing? Roberts, who identifies as gay, had posted in 2017 that...
“I love how trannies choose names like Munroe, Paris and Chelsea. It’s never Julie or Bev is it? It’s almost like a clueless gayboy’s idea of a glamorous lady. But of course it’s definitely not that.”.
Retrospectively typing himself out of a job, casting himself into the writerly equivalent of the Vortex with the words of the BBC Book Lords no doubt ringing in his ears, quite rightly.
“Comments made by the author on social media using offensive language about the transgender community have caused upset to Doctor Who fans and conflict with our values as a publisher.”.
Day's relief was palpable.
“BBC Books made their decision. I’m grateful they took the opportunity to demonstrate that transphobic views have no place in the Whoniverse, both in and outside the stories.”
As is only right!

And what she does inside this story is quite the party trick, spinning a yarn out of the hastily edited introductory section of Shada intended merely to explain Tom Baker's refusal to return to a role he'd recently vacated!

To wind things back a bit, though, the beginning of his seven year stint in the TARDIS could retrospectively be seen as the beginning of a prosperous time for the original, you might say, Target novel range itself. Doctor Who And The Giant Robot arriving via the rather busy pen of Terrance Dicks in March of 1975 as the first such outing for the most recently changed face of Doctor Who, as he was also credited on television until Peter Davison pitched up & made that the first of many changes he'd help to usher in.

Matthew Waterhouse's Adric was among the companions who helped to usher the viewing public through that first phase of the post-Baker era, and it's he who pens the next entry in this here Storybook in the form of The Dark River, which sort of turns the Alzarian swot into a surrogate Doctor in a sense, the man he would frequently butt heads with intellectually still stuck sorting out a bit of business with the Terileptils alongside Tegan. And so its left to the man who'll eventually die a hero, much like the man he'd later gain a new respect for, to make a temporary companion of his Trakenite friend to get off a paddle steamer in the Mississippi & jump back into the fire in a very real sense!

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