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Doctor Who: Ghost Ship
Keith Topping
Telos hardcover £25

review by Duncan Lawie

The deluxe edition of this novella is a beautifully presented small hardcover with a shiny grey and silver cover impressed with a skull motif. It also has a full colour, glossy frontispiece by Dariusz Jasiczak. The standard edition lacks this frontispiece and has a plainer cover. The text layout is pleasant, with the skull motif repeated at the head of each chapter together with dark quotes from authors popular in the 19th century. The introduction, by Hugh Lamb, offers an interesting outline of the history of ghostly ships and ghosts on ships whilst giving away a little too much of the subsequent material.
   The story begins well enough, soliloquising the Void, but rapidly collapses into clashing bathos. The narrator is the Doctor himself, which seems very brave and simply does not work. The primary mood of the book appears to be meant as a Gothic gloom, in a flowery, verbose style. However, Topping cannot maintain this feel against the ingrained belief that this is a happy-go-lucky Doctor. Nor does the supposed guilt riddled interiority of the Doctor's thoughts map well to the external world where he is soon offering jelly babies. The tale is inserted into the timeline after The Deadly Assassin neatly enough, leaving the Doctor on his own. This timing also provides some justification for a clouded perspective but hardly sufficient for the quaking terror to which the Doctor (!) succumbs and which must take the place of a plot.
   The book has other faults - the Doctor is astonishingly passive; the most well rounded character in the book is only allowed one scene; metaphors are blended... I had begun to fear that I had been away from Doctor Who for too long, that I had fallen out of touch with the written form of Who-dom. However reviews of other books in this series suggest that this is not the only failure. I must assume that there are those who like this kind of writing but as far as I can see, this kind of fan fiction is barely worth printing, let alone publishing in the beautiful package it has been given. It will look great on the shelf - just don't bother opening it.

Related item:
tZ  Doctor Who: Time And Relative by Kim Newman - book review

Dr Who: Ghost Ship

deluxe edition, signed
and numbered - �25
standard edition, has
plain grey cover, with
no art, bookmark or
signature page - �10

Order this title
direct from the
Telos website

Buy books at:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com


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