REGENERATIONS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Matthew Kresal finds a unique perspective on some much loved Doctor Who stories in the charity anthology Regenerations.

Since its earliest days, Doctor Who has had a literary presence. From the Target novelizations to the novels of the Wilderness Era, and now spin-off books such as Candy Jar's Lethbridge-Stewart series, this is a universe with a welcome home in prose. It's also spawned copious amounts of unlicensed fiction written by fans, sometimes collected into works raising money for worthy causes. Regenerations, out now from Chinbeard Books, is the latest such example raising money toward Invest In ME.

Picking up on the void in War Doctor fiction in recent times, Regenerations offers fans an intriguing premise. Amid the Time War, the Time Lord formerly calling himself the Doctor becomes aware of things not being quite right. In particular, his personal history is receiving something akin to a page one rewrite. Seeking answers, he travels to Gallifrey, where Rassilon reigns, and things aren't quite what they seem even as he revisits elements of his past. A history that isn't quite as he remembered it being.

As an anthology, Regenerations has two major strands. One is the framing device, written by editor Kenton Hall, that deals with the War Doctor and events in the Time War, seeking to make sense of what it is that's happening to him. The other, the one that makes up the majority of this volume's 435 pages, are snippets of tales from the Doctor's past. But, as the tone set by Hall's First Doctor tale quickly imparts upon the reader, these aren't the stories you remember from viewings over the years.

Far from it, in fact.

Regenerations, thanks to its various contributors, turns many a tale from Classic Who on their respective ears. From An Untrustworthy Child with Hall's take on the opening episode of the series to the epic reworking of Day of the Daleks by Andrew Lawston, this volume is clearly a labor of love for all involved, something very much made clear from the stories contained within it. Indeed, in finding new takes on various serials, ones both loved and neglected, these writers make what's old new again. In the case of the choices made for the Fifth and Seventh Doctors, they're improvements on their TV counterparts. Combined with Hall's framing pieces, the result is a strong sense of cohesiveness despite the variety, something which makes the experience of reading these short stories all the more joyous.

As strong as this anthology is, there were two definite standouts for this reviewer. The first is Dan Barrett's twist on Tomb of the Cybermen that takes one of the best-known tales in all of Classic Who and reinvents it, the result being a story that recreates, in prose, the experience one had of coming to that adventure for the very first time. The other standout is Alan Ronald's Terminus of the Daleks. It's not every day that a writer has the chance to take on the seminal works of Classic Who and find something new to do with it. With his story, Ronald creates a unique and meta look at a particular classic, one which longtime fans should adore as it comes at it from the outside in with a perspective that, until reading this, I'd never considered approaching a Who story from. These two pieces, and Ronald's in particular, are worth the price of the book all on their own.

From reimaginings of tales from across the canon, and perspective from the Time War, Regenerations makes an intriguing read for fans of Doctor Who, both Classic and Modern. It's an anthology that celebrates the show, both in its nearly six decades of history but, just as importantly, in its sheer variety of storytelling. It also features, without question, some of the most original writing for the series, licensed or not, that you'll likely come across this year. With it also contributing toward a good cause, it's impossible not to recommend it to my fellow fans.

Get it while you can, folks. You won't regret it.

Regenerations is available from Chinbeard Books now.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places. 

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