Since 1963, Doctor Who has been entrancing the world with its wittiness, its heroics, its comedy and its tragedy. If you’re like us, you’ve been counting down the days till the Doctor Who Christmas Special. Not only do we get to see David Bradley’s interpretation of the First Doctor grace our screens once more, but we have the return of companion Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie.
And though, like the Doctor, we hate endings (though please don’t rip out the last pages of our books) it is time to say good-bye to Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor and say hello to the first female Doctor (though not the first Time Lady), Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor.
That’s a lot to get excited about. Wondering what to do to prepare yourself for what promises to be an epic Christmas Special?
Read, of course! As Professor Chronotis says in Shada, “I’ve got plenty of books. What book would you like?” While the Edmonton Public Library is not quite as big as The Library, it does have its fair share of stories to see you through the holidays. And the great thing about books: they’re bigger on the inside.
So get ready to reverse the polarity, grab your sonic screwdriver and hold onto your fez as we take a journey through time and space. Allons-y!
1. Shada: The Lost Adventure of Douglas Adams by Gareth Roberts
What better way to start our journey than with two pillars of classic Doctor Who, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, and the inimitable Douglas Adams? Shada is the great unmade Doctor Who adventure, a planned episode of the show that was never fully recorded due to strike action at the BBC.
Shada sees the Doctor and his companion Romana, a Time Lady, visiting an old friend at Cambridge—one who just happens to have a very dangerous book in his possession, which a diabolical alien named Skagra is determined to get his hands on.
The novelization, written by Doctor Who veteran scriptwriter Gareth Roberts, uses various versions of the script to plug up a few plot holes and delve deeper into the source material, giving us a rollicking adventure. And if you love this story, a reconstruction of the TV episode using new audio recordings by the original cast and new animated sequences will be coming out on DVD in early 2018.
2. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
While Shada never made it to our TV screens, Douglas Adams continued playing with some of the ideas and lines from the script as well as one of the characters while writing Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. It was described by the author as a “thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic,” which should be enough to recommend it to any Doctor Who fan.
A radio-play was adapted from the story by the BBC and includes the voice acting of Harry Enfield, Billy Boyd and Olivia Colman, just to name a few. The first season of the TV series with Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood is available at EPL.
3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engel
Published in 1962, one year before Doctor Who aired on the BBC, A Wrinkle in Time is a classic, genre-defying adventure through space-time. It follows Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin as they travel through tesseracts with the aid of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which to find Meg’s father.
A classic tale of good versus evil, A Wrinkle in Time is the first in the Time Quintet series, so after you finish the first one, there are four more for you to enjoy. A Wrinkle in Time is also being made into a blockbuster movie, which will hit theatres in March 2018.
4. Doctor Who: Touched by an Angel by Jonathan Morris
Set in the Whoniverse, Touched by an Angel is not a story about guardian angels sent to guide humans onto a better path, but an altogether more sinister one. As any true Whovian knows, angels are some of the scariest monsters out there and you cannot let them out of your sight for even a moment. When a grieving widower receives a letter written in his own hand but posted eight years in the past, telling him that he can save his wife, the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory are catapulted into an adventure through one man’s lifetime in order to save the world from the Weeping Angels.
Touched by an Angel is available from the Edmonton Public Library as a book.
5. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is no stranger to fans of Doctor Who, having penned popular episodes The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver. In this children’s novel, he turns his attention to a fantastical story including invading aliens, an 18th century pirate crew and a dinosaur inventor of a time machine, all encountered on Dad’s trip to the corner store to pick up the milk.
A fun adventure for children of all ages, Fortunately, the Milk is a quick read, with illustrations by Skottie Young that add wonder and whimsy to this delightful tale.
6. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
If time really was a strict progression of cause to effect, then H.G. Wells’ novel should probably have been first on this list, as it coined the term "time machine" back in 1885. But, as any good Doctor Who fan knows, time is more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, so putting it near the end of our journey makes sense from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint.
While the TARDIS is much more than a machine that can travel backwards and forwards in time, it does owe a lot to this classic Victorian tale. The story itself bears some resemblance to the Tenth Doctor story, Utopia, in that the main character travels forward to the end of humanity and sees what has become of us. H.G. Wells is also a character in the Sixth Doctor story, Timelash, considered one of the worst of the Doctor Who stories by many, but don’t let that put you off this sci-fi classic.
7. 12 Doctors 12 Stories by Various Authors
And so, we come to the end of our journey through space and time, but not before we take one last glance through the various incarnations of that mad man with a box we all love so well. 12 Doctors 12 Stories is a collection of short stories written by best-selling authors such as Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Marcus Sedgwick and Eoin Colfer, one for each Doctor. Running the gamut of time and space travel—along with the welcome inclusion of classic companions like Jamie, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Leela and Ace—this collection is sure to get you ready to welcome the Thirteen Doctor to your screen.
12 Doctors 12 Stories is available from the Edmonton Public Library as an eBook.
December 25th is fast approaching, and Twice Upon a Time is nearly upon us. For a bit more festive Doctor Who, check out the downloadable audiobook The Twelve Doctors of Christmas. Previous series of Doctor Who on DVD, Doctor Who books and Doctor Who comics are available at the Edmonton Public Library.