Doctor Who
World Game

Author: Terrance Dicks
BBC Books
RRP: 5.99
ISBN 0 563 48636 8
Available 06 October 2005

The Doctor has been put on trial by his own people, accused of their greatest crime: interfering with the affairs of other planets. But before he is sent into exile, the Time Lords have a task for him. From the trenches of the Great War to the terrors of the French Revolution, the Doctor finds his life threatened at every turn. Will he survive to serve his sentence, or will this adventure prove to be his Waterloo...?

Ever wondered why the Second Doctor depicted in The Two Doctors was working for the Time Lords, even though his people didn't capture him until his final story, The War Games? Ever wondered why his hair looked greyer in The Two Doctors, or why he referred to himself as being "a bit of an exile these days"? Ever wondered how, in the The Five Doctors, he managed to remember Jamie being returned to his own time in The War Games, even though the Doctor was supposedly regenerated and exiled to Earth immediately thereafter?

In 1995, Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping's Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide postulated "Season 6B": the idea that, in between his trial and his enforced regeneration, the Second Doctor experienced a further series of adventures. Indeed, the Doctor Who comic strips in issues 916-936 of TV Comic explicitly support this notion, by featuring a post-trial Second Doctor, exiled on Earth but not yet attached to UNIT. A short section of Terrance Dicks' 1999 novel Players witnessed the first validation of this theory in a piece of licensed Who prose fiction. Here, the Second Doctor's sentence was postponed by the Celestial Intervention Agency, who had a mission for him...

World Game shows us more of this era. In this book, the author states that what we saw on screen at the end of The War Games was not the whole truth, but was "re-edited for the public record". This novel has the Doctor being sentenced to death until the CIA intercedes. Presumably the scene in which the Doctor is offered a chance to choose his new appearance takes place much later, after the CIA has grown tired of keeping him on a leash, or he has rebelled and tried to escape his servitude. The line spoken by the First Time Lord: "The time has come for you to change your appearance and begin your exile," could also take place at this point, or even later, after the Doctor has been forced aboard his TARDIS at the end of The Night Walkers (TV Comic issues 934-936).

The novel's conclusion leads directly into the Second Doctor's participation in The Two Doctors. Personally, I would have preferred the latter adventure to have taken place towards the end of "Season 6B", rather than at its beginning, given the Doctor and Jamie's visibly older appearance. Instead, Dicks attributes the Time Lord's grey hair to the gruelling nature of his first assignment.

In addition to referencing The War Games (his fourth novel to do so) and The Two Doctors, Dicks also ties in characters, creatures and events from The Eight Doctors, Players (surprise, surprise - the eternal Players are attempting to meddle in Earth's history for the third time), State of Decay, The Five Doctors (including a reprise of the infamous "not the mind probe" line) and The End of the World (the Doctor pockets some psychic paper).

The psychic paper bit is nice, but it does raise the question of why the Doctor never used it again until his ninth incarnation. It would have come in useful during numerous stories in which he required a pass or papers, including Spearhead from Space and The Curse of Fenric. Maybe he mislaid it for a few centuries.

Other shows that are alluded to include Sharpe, Terminator 2 and Bob the Builder. Can the Doctor fix it? Yes, he can.

But aside from all these pleasing (or otherwise) inter-textual references, is the book any good? Well, Dicks' writing is as readable as it ever has been. The plot flags a little in the middle, but soon picks up thanks to several surprising twists towards the end. A new companion who is foisted upon the Doctor, a Time Lady called Serena, works rather well.

Following The War Games, Timewyrm: Exodus, Players, Endgame and Warmonger, this is yet another addition to a long line of warfare-related stories by this author. However, he makes inventive use of the real-life characters (in this case Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington) and enlightens us as to their fascinating histories, just as he did with Winston Churchill and Kim Philby in Players and Endgame respectively.

There are a few editorial blunders, as we have come to expect from Dicks. He writes "hung" when he means "hanged", "dammed" when he means "damned", and "affect" when he means "effect". Serena remains ignorant as to who Hitler is, despite having heard his name earlier in the book.

Though clearly not without its faults, this novel is very engaging, especially if you're game for a nostalgic wallow in Doctor Who history.

Richard McGinlay

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