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Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

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10 March 2021

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

3.4: Children Of Eath - Day Four

It was bound to happen in this review; we have now reached “that” episode in this series of Torchwood. Grab the tissues, this one is going to be incredibly emotional.

 

Things are not looking great as Captain Jack realises the implication of his actions by sending the kids to the aliens. Clement, in a frenzy of fury towards Jack, shoots him dead on the spot. Gwen really comes into her own here as Rhys says, “The man is dangerous,” but really, he is just terrified by the whole situation and Gwen can immediately see this. It’s a nice character development as even through all the sci-fi wonders in the show, she still has to rely upon her police instinct to sort situations and keep the peace. Jack reveals the reason why Clement was specifically chosen to be sent to the aliens, was due to the fact they wouldn’t be missed by anyone. It’s a real emotional twist revealing Jack’s reasoning and logic to fighting an unknown menace when The Doctor isn’t around - something Torchwood has become very adept at, explaining the consequences of actions in the Doctor Who universe. 

 

The 456 also clarifies the situation as to why it wants the children of Earth. In this very harrowing scene, it allows one person to enter the poisonous tank revealing a child hooked up in an entanglement of wires to the 456 itself; it’s a scene that could have been taken straight out of the movie “Alien.” It’s pure Torchwood sci-fi horror that makes your skin crawl and Peter Capaldi reacting to the news, really hits hard as you can see the pain, horror and anguish in his eyes. The final threat is made when the 456 says they have to hand over the children or the whole of the human race will be destroyed. It’s the impossible choice that has become the pinnacle theme of Torchwood through the series. 

 

There’s a touching scene between Ianto and Jack, as Ianto realises he doesn’t know the man he fell in love with and works with, at all. Ianto claims he’s only just scratched the surface of the truth behind his long life, to which Jack opens up, revealing he has a daughter and grandson who are captured at this moment. The scene really shows that Jack keeps a lot of secrets and acts as if the situation is under control  so as to not panic the people he loves, but it always comes at a cost later down the line. This is very heavy foreshadowing for future events that, when re-watching Torchwood, you realise how many clues are left for the audiences to pick up on and that’s down to some incredible writing by Russell T. Davies.

 

This is when everything starts to unravel with the world. The Government starts to seriously consider how many children per country as a “camouflageable donation,” otherwise known as people who they feel aren’t important, to give to the 456. Torchwood as a series, really reveals how through manipulation and exploitation, how the Government in their cowardice, try and resolve a situation. It always reminds me of the quote ‘The Doctor must look on this World in shame’ and in these situations you can see why. In a surprise role the wonderful Nicholas Briggs plays the not so wonderful character of Rick Yates. With some kind of reasoning, he convinces the Prime Minister that losing 10% of children per country would do the world good for its resources. Russell T. Davies always does a wonderful representation of realism in sci-fi when it appears any situation can be resolved by putting a monetary value on things. Lois Habiba, recording the whole conversation for Torchwood, makes them immediately aware of the situation and they know action needs to be taken without delay.

 

Now for Lois Habiba, the Torchwood agent that never was, this is her moment of heroism as she stands up in front of the whole board and announces with such confidence, Torchwood had been recording everything that had been said. It’s the pure, punch in the air moment, that really turns the tides of fate for a moment as they try and regain control of the situation. The music, the fast-paced editing, Jack sauntering into Thames House, we’ve gone straight back to the stylistic themes of Torchwood series 1 and 2 and it feels like home.

 

And here we are, we have reached the final chapter in Ianto’s adventures with Torchwood. Jack and Ianto enter the room where the 456 is currently being held. Jack appears to come to a revelation after their conversation in the warehouse that this time, the 456 will not be getting the demands it requires. There’s no holding back in the argument as Jack and Ianto take the final stance and ultimately again have to face the consequences of being a hero once more. The 456 not giving up so easily, release a virus into Thames House that will kill everything within it. 

 

Ianto’s death is one of the most shocking and brilliantly performed scenes in Torchwood. For Jack and for the fans of the show, Ianto was that anchor that kept everyone stable while the whole world seemed to change with every episode. Ianto was always the hidden hero in the background and in the toughest moments he always knew he would die for his service. It’s a brave choice to make to kill off such an iconic and long-standing character, however it shows that the world and Torchwood is an unpredictable place and no one is safe.

 

Tomorrow is the final day of the most heart breaking and intense week the Torchwood team has ever had to face. What will happen next? Well, we’ll soon find out.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
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[Source:
DWO]

9 March 2021

Publisher: Gate Key Publishing

Written By: J.G. Blodgett

RRP: £7.17 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £2.16 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th March 2021

For fans of epic fantasy, J.G. Blodgett's 'The Dark Light' (Book 1 in The Gate Key Chronicles) delivers a gripping, well-thought-out saga, that will have kids, teens and adults alike captivated.

It focuses on Jimmy Mankins and Amelia Miller; childhood friends who share a mysterious secret that opens the way to a dark threat from another world.

The book begins with the prologue and a mystery; Jimmy (simply known as 'Boy'), wakes up at the edge of a field with a hazy memory of who and where he is. He quickly discovers Amelia, and with the help of both their Father's, they return to a place of warmth and safety. As the prologue draws to a close, however, questions are left unanswered - tantalising the reader by wanting to know more.

We are then properly introduced to Jimmy and Amelia, and the next few chapters beautifully captures the beginning of their special friendship, as well as, despite some differences, touching on the many parallels between their lives.

There is a wonderful scene in Chapter Three that juxtaposes Jimmy and Amelia's home environment - but, like with most of their relationship, there's something that connects them. Rather perfectly, (and sure this may sound odd), it's reflected in broccoli; Jimmy's dinner is a humble one with sausages, mashed potato (out of a packet) and broccoli - whereas Amelia is tucking into a steak dinner, with broccoli as her accompaniment. It was so poetically written, and I don't think I've ever seen a vegetable used in such a meaningful way!

As the story unfolds, Amelia entrusts her own secret to Jimmy, and we discover how everything is connected and why their world's are fatefully thrown together. The author uses time to dip back and forth in the narrative to fill in some gaps along the way. It acts as a nice break in the story-telling, whilst fleshing out our protagonist's backstories.

There is, of course, a lingering threat throughout The Dark Light (as the title suggest). Something that you know is coming, but not entirely sure of what form it will take. Be it school bullies, dark creatures, or an oncoming storm, you feel protective of our protagonists and want nothing bad to happen to them.

The relatively small cast of characters are incredibly well-rounded and layered. Jimmy's father (Donald), for example, is someone you don't necessarily like, but one simple line a few chapters in: "time in the Vietnam War" - instantly gives you a small sense of sympathy and understanding for him. Amelia also sees Donald's redeemable qualities; "he was capable of being the father he once was".

As a reader, I was unaware of just how much emotion there could be in the story. The rich relationships between the characters, between father and son, father and daughter. The way in which loss is dealt with (or not), and how faith is something that can drive you through even the toughest situations. Yes it's a fantasy, but it's one with a surprisingly grounded heart that makes you simply feel every word on the page.

If there was a comparison, I'd say it was Stranger Things meets The Neverending Story. It's simply screaming out to be made into a Netflix series.! You can almost feel the natural cliffhangers to each episode and with more books to come, there's a lot of mileage, here. 

I am so pleased and feel privileged to have read The Dark Light. It was so much more than I had hoped for (hence the length of this review), and whilst I have no idea what form Book 2 will take, believe me when I say that I will be hounding the author for it's release, as it can't come soon enough!

+  The Gate Key Chronicles: The Dark Light is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JGBlodgett on Twitter.

3 March 2021

Our friends over at Zavvi have been in touch with details of their exciting new range of exclusive Doctor Who clothing, which launches today.

The range, which includes Tees, Sweaters, Hoodies and Jackets, features brand new designs and is now available to purchase from the Zavvi website.

Below is Zavvi's official description for the range:

ZAVVI HAS TAKEN THE TARDIS AND IS TAKING THIS RANGE BACK THROUGH THE YEARS

All the way to 1963 where Doctor Who begun and became a significant part of British pop culture. Celebrating all the generations from the 1st Doctor to the 12th this apparel range focus' on the Doctors, their companions and iconic monsters from their time.

Do you remember the beginning with William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Syltvester Mcoy or is your Doctor from the 21st century played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi or the first female Doctor Jodie Whittaker. Show your love for your favourite Doctor and his companion with Zavvi's exclusive Doctor Who range.

Zavvi have given DWO visitors and followers a generous 20% off clothing with the 'DWO20' code, and 10% off site-wide with 'DWO10' code. Unfortunately the codes exclude this collection as well as Preorders, Bundles, Tech, LEGO, Subscriptions, Collections and Sale items.

+ Check out the range using our exclusive link, here!

[Source: Zavvi]

3 March 2021

The team from Terraqueous have been in touch with details of their latest, fantastic (unofficial) Doctor Who Annual, and they need help from budding artists to help complete it. 

For those unfamiliar with Terraqueous, they have been putting together Doctor Who Annuals to fill in the gaps since they stopped in 1986. Last year saw the release of the The Dr Who Annual 1987, and other releases include The Dr Who Annual 1972 and The Master Annual. They feature full-colour artwork and stories, in keeping with the long history of the range.

The latest annual - The Dr Who Annual 1988, is currently being compiled and the team are looking for Doctor Who fans (who also happen to be artists), to help. If you would like to be considered, please email them directly, with a sample of your work to: doctorwhoannual@aol.co.uk.

You can watch a teaser for The Dr Who Annual 1988 in the player below:

[Source: Anthony Garnon]

2 March 2021

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

3.3: Children Of Eath - Day Three

So we’ve finally hit the half way point through this most epic week of episodes and episode three  changes the pace of the series in a way that shows how the team are really bonding together again.

 

Hiding away in Torchwood One, Jack, Gwen, Ianto and Owen become the master criminals; they’re being treated as such to re-establish the old equilibrium of the team. Using stolen technology, Torchwood quickly delve into what the Government are hiding and why they’re so desperate to kill them all. This feels like a slightly slower paced style of episode, but it’s done in an ideal way, as there is a lot of information that is gathered in this part to really build up the dramatic tension of the last couple of episodes.

 

The Torchwood team work out Frobisher has a huge part in the whole 456 coming to Earth and that’s where the amazing Lois Habiba also comes into her own. Gwen gives Lois contact lenses which can read lips and because she’s built up such a strong relationship with Frobisher and Bridget Spears, it’s no guess that Lois becomes a key part to infiltrating the whole mystery behind what’s going on. The plan is all falling neatly into place for the team.

 

With how fast paced the previous episodes have been, it’s nice that we get a moment of calm and reflection about the whole situation. This is very apparent during the scene between Jack and Ianto, where the sudden realisation hits, that Jack will keep going even after Ianto has died of old age. It’s that moment of foreboding, that once you rewatch the episode, really pulls at your heart strings, knowing they will never have the life they were expecting to live. This is the curse of working for Torchwood.

 

While all this is going on, Jack’s daughter makes the mistake of trying to find out what happened to him after the explosion and inevitably gets kidnapped, just to add more heart breaking developments for Jack.

 

With all the kids pointing towards the sky, the 456 makes its grand entrance in London as it decends into a poison gas chamber which the government has created. The orchestral music, mixed in with the alarms blasting through the building, make this scene a pivotal changing moment, however all of a sudden it goes quiet. It really adds gravitas to the situation as the world has changed in a blink on an eye. The silence is gripping, as it is suddenly disturbed by acidic slime being thrown against the glass. It’s true Torchwood gross humour and creepiness that the series does so well.

 

Frobisher trying to do what’s right, has the whole world against him. Jack confronts him on the situation and reveals the fact that he knows the 456 has been here before. Clement McDonald is living proof of this, as with a sudden revelation he recognises Jack from 1965, when the first group of children were handed over to the 456. It’s a moment of reflection, as just like The Doctor, Jack has a dark and dangerous history that he continually hides from his team. It creates a great moment when Jack and Frobisher talk, as Jack can give his experience on the situation. However that’s not how the Government see it.

 

The whole story is tied into a truly impactful cliffhanger, as the 456 demands they hand over 10% of the children of earth. This most dramatic and brutal style of the 456 has revealed its face at last, but to keep everyone gripped, the reason still remains a mystery.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 

 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
+ Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter!

[Source:
DWO]

22 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Nathan Burton

RRP: £4.00 / $5.25 (Paperback) | £2.00 / $2.51 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 22nd February 2021

From the stunning cover, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Tales Of The Starmen: Volume 1, by Nathan Burton was a graphic novel, but this is in fact a short but punchy space saga.

The story focuses on two brothers; Helion and Eckron, who, despite their disparity, must fulfil their royal duties.

There is a great variety of pacing here; we go from a vicious space fight to a street race in Kingson, Jamaica. Both these scenes act as stark metaphors for the differences between the two brothers. One just wants to win a race (Helion) and the other wants to ascend the Nova Throne (Eckron). That being said, there are more to the characters than their differences - particularly Eckron. Sure, he is unlikeable and power hungry, but, rather geniusly, there's a redeemable side to him that you discover near the end of the book. One particular line we loved from Eckron near the end, was as follows:

‘He said he wanted to be like me. Perhaps I should make some effort to be more like him.’

For a story so short, there's actually some decent character development, and whilst the cast of characters are relatively small, each have purpose and place within the narrative. We also love the diversity; this is very much a black-centric royal family and outside of the likes of Black Panther or Coming To America, its fantastic to have a black royal family represented in literary form for us Science Fiction fans.

It is clear that the author is a SciFi fan - and a well-seasoned one at that. There are hints of Star Wars and even The Fifth Element here, but Burton makes Tales Of The Starmen very much his own.

Whilst this is Volume 1 of a proposed series, it also acts as a satisfying conclusion. For those who hate cliffhangers, you can rest assured of a stress-free ending. Whenever Volume 2 does come out, it will mark a new chapter in this fun, gripping, pleasantly manageable saga.

+  Tales Of The Starmen: Volume 1 is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Nattybe96 (Nathan Burton) on Twitter.

19 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Jodi Bowersox

RRP: £10.13 / $7.14 (Paperback) | £3.05 / $4.26 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 19th February 2021

Mars Madness is book 1 in a 3 book series by author, Jodi Bowersox. It's self-titled as an 'out of this world romantic adventure' and boy does it deliver on that promise! What was left out of that headliner, however, is just how funny it is, too. 

We follow divorced mum of one, Katrina McKenna as she reluctantly buys a lottery ticket (on her daughter's insistence) for a luxury, two-year Mars adventure. The chances of wining are astronomical  to say the least (if you pardon the pun), but chance finds its way to Kat and before she knows it, she finds herself, begrudgingly on her way to Mars.

Thing is... her ex husband, who works for the company sending her to Mars, is also going to Mars, and he will be bringing their daughter along for the ride. All isn't as straightforward as one would think, though, and half of the fun we have is just getting to Mars. Hell, even leaving Earth has its fair share of setbacks with errant robotic maids, stowaway daughters and... an Israeli terrorist?!

We love the dialogue between Kat and her husband Doug; they really do reflect a real life ex-couple - complete with all the fallout (bad and good) that comes with it. Their daughter, Francesca is the magnet that has kept them in each others lives, and whilst you can see why they have gone their separate ways, there's this underlying feeling of wishing they could work things out.

Bowersox is a wizard in the way she sets up the situations our characters find themselves in. They present themselves as quietly comic (and not so quietly in some places) playlets, and whilst there are undoubtedly predictable outcomes that you relish as a reader, the author also takes you in unexpected directions.

It's tricky not to spoil things, but we will say that the ending wasn't at all what we were expecting, and it is absolutely a better story as a result. It sets up book 2 perfectly, and there's even a little sneak peek at the prologue for the sequel (Beware The Eyes Of Mars) at the very end.

There is a wonderful phrase that states; "The fun is in the journey", and nowhere is this more present than in Mars Madness. A fun read that has heart and soul!

+  Mars Madness is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JodiBowersox on Twitter.

9 February 2021

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

3.2: Children Of Eath - Day Two

There really is no letting up for the Torchwood team. With Captain Jack now seemingly killed in the blast that ripped through Cardiff Bay, Ianto and Gwen make a daring escape from it as as well as the assassins on their trail. Gwen really comes into her own this story as a fake paramedic tries to kill her, Gwen really shows she has things to lose now, especially with her recently finding out she’s pregnant.

 

While all of this is happening in Wales, we shoot back to the unfortunate Frobisher who finally gets the details of the message being transmitted through the children, which is in fact being broadcast through the 456 frequency. The prime minister seemingly washing his hands of the situation, makes him a person not to be anyones best friend. I do feel for Frobisher’s character as he appears to be a man who just wants to do his job well, but has some horrible influences contradicting him at every turn.

 

Ianto brings his life more into the foreground, as he talks to his sister about the events circling around his life, from his dad pushing him too hard and Ianto just wanting to protect his family at all costs. This is something that becomes very apparent later on in the series.

 

Gwen and Rhys flee from Cardiff as soon a possible, heading for London. They stow away in a lorry full of potatoes, which provides the perfect location for Gwen to pluck up the courage to announce her pregnancy to Rhys. They all seem remarkably happy about it, including Gwen, almost making the whole Owen and Gwen affair from the last two series, completely forgotten about. However this does throw a few curve balls into the team dynamic, as there is more of a sense of risk not only to Gwen, but to her future baby.

 

You can’t have Torchwood without some good old body horror gore can you? They find Jack, well most of him, and it is some of the most toe curling stuff in the shows history. The people out to kill Torchwood, place his remains in a vault in a secret location, which seems extreme until Jack’s remains start glueing themselves back together in the body bag. John Barrowman really plays Jack coming back to life so well, as you can hear and feel the pain through the television screen. When you think all is well, to stop him from talking yet again, the assassins then pour concrete over Jack to silence him once more.

 

While all of this is taking place, for Lois Habiba her second day has been, well she has definitely thrown herself into the deep end. With her curiosity surrounding the happenings with the 456 and Torchwood itself, it appears she has now become a vital member for the Torchwood team. In a dodgy cafe, over a pie and chips, Lois meets Gwen and Rhys for a vital talk.

 

We then swiftly move onto the big breakout plan for Jack, which in true Torchwood style, has Ianto in a forklift truck throwing the big block of cement that Jack is encased in, over a cliff edge. Cliffhanger ending, anyone? Jack, like many other times, brushes the whole situation off as the Torchwood team finally reunite to fight their unknown foe.

 

The vital moments in this episode, are primarily what happened in 1965? What does the 456 want from Earth? Mr Dekker seems to be awfully calm about the whole situation and that creates a sense of being highly uncomfortable. 24 hours is all they have, but how bad can it possibly get?


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
+ Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter!

[Source:
DWO]

9 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Xavier Marcé

RRP: £14.47 / $19.99 (Paperback) | £FREE / $FREE (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th February 2021

Modern Warfare meets SciFi in Mark Of Odin: The Awakening - a gripping story from the pen of Xavier Marcé.

The events of the story are set in 2012, where Luis (our main character) is set to graduate in Aerospace Engineering. Everything is going his way until Luis begins to have recurring nightmares from mythical beasts from Norse mythology.

We want to start by drawing particular attention to the prologue (set in Norway, 60,000 years ago), which instantly submerses the reader into the author's fantastic use of descriptive exposition;

"The city resembled a marble ocean in shades of blue and green; it was formed by palaces and large buildings that were dotted all over with the lush greenery of trees and cleaved through by wide stone avenues. The port area thronged with the city’s inhabitants who were heading to the ships with their most prized possessions. One vast building with a dome of titanic proportions stood out above the rest, dominating the centre of the city."

After being introduced to Luis and one of his nightmarish dreams, the story then switches tone, pace and location completely as we are introduced to Lieutenant Colonel Jack Preston of the United States Air Force, who is working on a prototype which ties in with what Luis is working on, half a world away. Soon their worlds collide, and, without giving too much away, their world's are not the only ones to collide...

The tying in of Norse mythology with that of a modern day setting is incredibly well thought out and successfully executed, and the final four chapters will have you gripped as there are flavours of Independence Day with a dash of Thor. That being said, there's no emulation here - Mark Of Odin is very much its own beast and with a conclusion that guarantees more to come, you'll be counting down the weeks, days and minutes until the next instalment.

It's worth mentioning that Mark Of Odin was originally published in the author's native Spanish, and having seen this with other books in the past, it normally comes at a cost in descriptions and sense of character. We were very pleased to say that nothing is lost in translation, and it stands shoulder to shoulder with its native version. The book is steeped in the flavour of Spain; from touching on its society to its history, you really get a rich sense of identity in the novel.

Rather ingeniously, once you are done reading Mark Of Odin, you can continue the reading experience  via an online pass which unlocks a digital edition with bonus chapters and stories. This really boosts your whole experience of the story and also gives you direct access to the author himself, via the online forum. It it because of this exciting way of creating and distributing additional content, that it really does feel bigger than the sum of its parts and, as such, we look forward to delving further into Marcé's world!

+  Mark Of Odin: The Awakening is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @MarkOfOdin (Xavier Marcé) on Twitter.

8 February 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By:Roland Moore

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: January 2021

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Sometimes the TARDIS takes the Doctor to where he needs to go...

Answering a distress call from the out-world of Triketha, the Doctor and Constance Clarke discover human colonists battling against an onslaught of giant, malevolent insects. The insects’ sting induces a coma, and it is only a matter of time before all the colonists succumb.

The Doctor is curious as to the origins of the insects, which appeared from nowhere, and offers his assistance to the colony’s governor. But is this the Doctor’s first visit to Triketha, or has he been here before? The Doctor must confront a past that he has no memory of and take responsibility for the consequences of his actions."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

In the interviews for Colony of Fear, it's mentioned that the gestation period for it has been around two years and that Roland Moore's script has taken many twists and many turns along the way. This utterly blindsided me as I had come away from the play feeling it had been rushed into production and needed at least a couple more passes by a script editor.

Yes, sadly all good things must come to an end and so the run of very good Main Range plays stutters to a halt. On paper, it sounds okay: parasitic mind wasps vs. the Sixth Doctor on a jungle planet, trying to defend a colony when a face from his past turns up. In practice, it's lacklustre at best.

You can see this in the characters, who act in a way that serve plot beats but little else. Why else would Tarlos not immediately reveal all to the Doctor once it's clear the Doctor can't remember? Because it's needed for a cliffhanger and then needed to pad out the following episode. Why does the Doctor dismiss the idea of saving the colony so quickly? Because we're near the end of the play. Why does Edwin stop distrusting the Doctor so quickly at the start of Part Four? Because it's the start of Part Four and we need that conflict resolved. And so on.

It's not subtle and it's not especially well done. It feels like it could go all-in on a b-movie vibe: we're one step away from someone crying, "But the wasps, man! The wasps!" It holds back though, and that's to its real disadvantage. Perhaps it should have gone for straight pastiche instead of po-faced cliché? Perhaps that would have helped.

The most notable part of the story comes with the aforementioned Tarlos, a companion of the Second Doctor who was accidentally returned home years before he left and has had to hide out and bide his time: and the Doctor can remember nothing about him, because the Time Lords have wiped his memory.

The play desperately wants you to care why, even introducing a could-be-a-new-companion in the form of Solana to have the Doctor not take aboard as a result of the consequences of taking Tarlos (broken families, broken promises). The trouble is, I didn't care at all. Tarlos just isn't a very interesting or engaging character. He's a vaguely intriguing plot point but not one as exciting as the script wants you to think he is. Perhaps they were angling for a return visit, or a spin-off box set? He warrants neither.

Just as the script overstated his intrigue, so do many of the plot twists overstate their surprise. The shock reveal of what occurs when people go into comas isn't a shock reveal. The surprise of what Edwin sees on his video is not a surprise. This is how things play out from start to finish, and it makes for a dud.

There is a half-decent idea and premise in here with Tarlos but two years' work has not created a half-decent play. Instead, it makes for a slog and the biggest twist and shock was how long it took to arrive at this destination. A shame.


+ Colony Of Fear is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


7 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Duane Simolke

RRP: £5.65 / $8.00 (Paperback) | £2.31 / $3.15 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 7th February 2021

Alternate realities and parallel timelines are the hot topic of the moment in both the cinematic and televisual worlds, and whilst one could argue that the concept has been around for years in the hallowed halls of written fiction, there have been slim pickings on the spread of titles we have read that feel refreshingly different.

Sons Of Taldra by Duane Simolke is exactly that - refreshingly different, and at its beating heart is some much needed diversity that slots in effortlessly and with purpose. And why shouldn't it?! When we think of the future and interactions with alien species, one can only accept diversity in all its many, beautiful colours. Colours that Simolke captures perfectly within the pages of this story.

Surfing the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, as the title suggests, Sons of Taldra follows Taldra (Leader of Valchondria - an alternate Earth), and her twin, gay, 19-year-old sons; Argen and Telius. Together they fight off an alien attack, but what quickly becomes apparent, and what is rather poignantly paralleled by the author, are the battles closer to home.

There are most definitely flavours of Star Trek: Discovery, which is particularly interesting as the book was published in 2016 - a full year before the first series of the aforementioned show. Just like Discovery, there is a broad spectrum of diverse characters - each with purpose and prominence, and despite being a short read, everyone fits in perfectly without any overcrowding. 

It is a short book, coming in at just 106 pages, but don't let that fool you into thinking this is a throw-away "short story". This is hands-down one of the most rounded books of this length that we have ever read. It's engaging and thought-provoking and whilst it may be a work of fiction, you cannot help but see the seeds of a future we could be heading towards.

As far as conclusions go, it's one of celebration, and one that ties back into the diversity we mentioned earlier. It's a beautiful end, and the last sentence in particular is one that we wish would be even more prevalent in our own time. Top marks to the author on this incredibly well-accomplished pocket SciFi.

+  Sons Of Taldra is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @DuaneSimolke on Twitter.

4 February 2021

BBV Productions, who made their name in Doctor Who fandom during the 1990s, have recently released a brand new video diary series on YouTube.

The series, dubbed 'P.R.O.B.E. Online' can be viewed on the BBV Productions YouTube Channel, and ties in with the short story anthology, P.R.O.B.E.: Out Of The Shadows, from Arcbeatle Press.

You can watch the current video diary in the player below:

[Source: James Hornby]

4 February 2021

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Written By: Bella Rayne

RRP: £14.95 / $16.43 (Paperback) | £3.19 / $4.35 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 4th February 2021

Bella Rayne's The Fate Of Magick centres around Dabney West; a befreckled, red-headed, self-reliant, loner, and, in her own words, "a force to be reckoned with". Dabney (great, unusual name by the way) is hugely affected by a horrific incident involving her parents, which changes her life forever.

If that wasn't enough, Dabney and her husband have drifted apart, and the company she works for is responsible for dumping toxic waste into her treasured forest. Having been caught taking photos and video of the incident, Dabney is later found out and sacked from her job.

Desperate for a fresh start, she moves to a new city to start her new life. It is in this new life that she begins having vivid dreams with strange messages. There's also a rather shocking predator (the details of which we won't spoil here), but it makes for some uncomfortable reading. That being said, it is this point in the story that you really feel a change in stakes.

With newfound powers and a true sense of empowerment, we see our central character change before our eyes and it is one of the most beautiful yet shocking changes we have ever seen to a character on the page...ever! Speaking of which, Dabney is surrounded by a fantastically diverse set of characters - not all of which she can trust...

We love the way in which Dabney is telling her story to us; at times it feels like a conversation with an old friend, and there are certain moments or subjects she talks about that the reader can totally align with. There's a whole section about Twitter, of which there are some elements many of us can relate to!

There are some racy moments, some downright scary moments, and best of all, moments that will have you punching the air for our heroine, in this darkly beautiful story from Bella Rayne.

One cannot help feeling there may be similarities to our protagonist and the author; Dabney comes across so clearly on the page and the details of her life are so rich and fleshed out that it almost feels like elements of a life that has actually been lived. She is even an author of the paranormal!

The wonderful ending sets things up for a sequel, and promises of adventures new. We will be there for the ride and recommend this book for anyone who loves the fantasy / romance genres.

+  The Fate Of Magick is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @BellaRayne10 (Bella Rayne) on Twitter.

3 February 2021

Digital entertainment studio Maze Theory, in partnership with BBC Studios, is excited to reveal that cryptic ‘found-phone’ adventure game, Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins, will launch on March 19th 2021 for  iOS and Android mobile devices and Steam.     

Following their encounter with the Tenth Doctor, the Weeping Angels were trapped in the basement of Wester Drumlins. That is, until now…Merciless as ever, the Weeping Angels are back with a vengeance. Will you be able to uncover the truth and avoid their clutches? Now that the Weeping Angels have the power to infiltrate technology, no device is safe…

Developed by the award-winning studio Kaigan Games (Sara Is Missing, SIMULACRA), Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins thrusts players into a dark mystery amidst a series of sinister events occurring at Wester Drumlins, a decrepit and supposedly uninhabited house in London. Building on the iconic Doctor Who episode ‘Blink’, all is not what it seems as ex-UNIT scientist Petronella Osgood (played by Ingrid Oliver) enlists the player’s aid in tackling a familiar and lethal foe. 

Filmed in London and Cardiff, the game sees players interacting with a mysteriously discarded phone in order to uncover its secrets and that of its former owner. Blurring the line between live-action footage and gameplay, players will need to piece together clues and work with Petronella Osgood to trace connections to the first horrific encounter within Wester Drumlins. 

Starting today, players can pre-register for access on iOS and Android devices, and pre-order or wishlist the game on Steam, with more news to follow on the Nintendo Switch version. Visit www.doctorwhothelonelyassassins.com to see how pre-registration will unlock special rewards and must-have fan content, including bonus story content, digital wallpapers and printable posters.

Watch the pre-registration trailer in the player, below:

[Source: Maze Theory]

1 February 2021

Publisher: Self-Published

Written By: Barbara J. Gilbert

RRP: £8.04 / $10.99 (Paperback) | £2.19 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 2nd February 2021

Future Apocalypse: Beginnings is the first in a thrilling new time travel series from Barbara J. Gilbert.

We follow Paulette Brown, a young woman who, after dealing with a personal tragedy in her hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, moves with her Mother to Washington.

Due to the events of her life in Wilmington, Paulette cannot shake her wish to change the past, which leads to her eventual elopement of a time pod, with her best friend, Greg.

With a relatively small pool of characters, one feels more intimacy with the plot and in turn, really hones in on Paulette's journey. You know that the people she meets are rich and rounded, and not just thrown in as padding. We particularly liked what the author does with Greg - whilst he supports his best friend, you feel the real-life conflict between them as he doesn't always agree with Paulette.

One of the things that we really loved, which, on paper, may not seem necessarily ground-breaking, was the fact that we follow 10 years of Paulette's life (and half the book) before we get our first taste of any time travel. As a reader you follow Paulette's struggles to get her project to conclusion, and you are chomping at the bit to see her dream realised. Hats off to the author for the slow build as it gives us time to get to know our protagonist, before she's thrust into the action.

Needles to say, time travel has its own rules and pitfalls, and it's not long before Paulette is thrown into a world-changing dilemma that picks up the pace and hurtles the reader in a fantastic, exciting new direction. It's this gear change that almost makes you feel you are reading two different stories - nay, genres. It's a delightful pace breaker and it comes at exactly the right moment.

The ending is far from what you think it will be, with all predictability thrown out the window, and with two more titles in the series now available, we are looking forward to seeing where Paulette's adventure takes her! Highly Recommended!

+  Future Apocalypse: Beginnings is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @BarbaraJGilber2 (Barbara J. Gilbert) on Twitter.

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