So, September 23rd and the Beast of Babylon by Charlie Higson is released for Kindle. This Puffin eshort story is, as one would expect, a Ninth Doctor story. So far this series has been more hit than miss, but where would this particular tale lie? There are some massive spoilers in this which I will try to edge round rather than give away completely.
The Doctor appear on the planet Karkinos where he interrupts a family picnic. The family in question includes one Ali who is so smart she remembers all about Time Lords and TARDISes from history lessons. The Doctor is in pursuit of a massive good like alien known as the Starman and defeats it with a small silver orb which he loses. Ali of course finds it and bargains for its return with a trip in the TARDIS.
The travel to ancient Babylon and encounter suspicion, prejudice and another Starman. The Doctor is put on trial for spying and needs rescuing by Ali who helps him to defeat the Starman then dispenses her own justice on the natives.
Charlie Higson has cleverly squeezed the whole story into a moment in the episode Rose. Ali acts as a bridge covering the moments when we aren’t sure that Rose is going to travel with the Doctor. The story has a good pace and some nice twists. I couldn’t help but spot that we had no description of Ali until around the mid-point of the story. This is not normal for story-telling but is essential in this case.
The Doctor felt like Eccleston – I wonder if this is a result of the scarcity of TV epsiodes and the lack of audio making it fairly easy to conjure up a semblance.
This is a really good story that I enjoyed. It didn’t try to be clever with the canon and entertained my on my morning commute. What more is needed?!
Update (Sep 30 2013) Thanks to Cavan Scott for pointing out this link to an interview with Charlie Higson in which he discusses this story.