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Doctor Who Novellas: Frayed

by Tara Samms

(Telos Books.)

Review by Russell Cook

With the latest Telos novella, we go back to an adventure for the first Doctor in his pre-television days, and it appears this encounter with the human race, is his first. The alien nature of the character is really brought to the fore, he is hesitant, unsure and arrogant in his dealings with humans, in many ways harking back to the TV pilot version of The Doctor. The character is written so well that one can hear the late William Hartnell delivering the lines. Susan, The Doctor's granddaughter, accompanies him; she is less well defined, and appears lost, as if educationally kept on a very tight leash by her "grandfather".

Lead characters aside, what of Frayed itself: is it a good read? Well, yes and no. The violence is quite graphic, and I found myself wincing at some of the descriptive passages which are found in the vivid dream sections. The imagery is very powerful, bodies falling apart all over the place. The following example is fairly typical of the, at times, gory prose.

"...her mouth is as frayed as mine and her jaws black with rot. She opens it too wide, and her chin falls right off..."

If you find this a little too strong, perhaps best avoid.

Despite this there is a good story here. The idea of an isolated clinic for children who have been pinpointed genetically towards a life of crime, is intriguing, also the attacks by the foxes themselves are very well realised, as is the reason for the attacks. The human characters come across well and the little in joke about Webber, didn't go unnoticed.

This novella is definitely worth a look, thought-provoking and eerie, not one to be read by candlelight.

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