Lineage, ed. Shaun Russell

Second paragraph of third story (“What’s Past is Prologue”, by David A. McIntee):

‘Are the girls ready?’ Alistair asked.

A collection of short stories in the timeline of Candy Jar Books’ Lethbridge-Stewart sequence, this time looking at the Brigadier’s ancestors and relatives from the seventeenth century to the present day (2018). All good fun, nothing that especially stood out (maybe the Quarks in the last of the stories). You can get it here.

Fear of the Web, by Alyson Leeds

Second paragraph of third chapter:

She was lying in a hospital bed, which admittedly came as no great surprise. On waking, Anne had thought she’d recognised the particular combination of not-too-comfortable mattress and highly starched linen, which only came with institutional bedding; the old-fashioned brushed nylon nightie she was wearing was something of a giveaway, too. She was not in a ward, however, but a private room – and a quite recently decorated one at that, judging by the faint smell of fresh paint lingering beneath the sharp tang of disinfectant. To her left was a small wooden bedside cabinet, on which was placed a carafe of water, a somewhat ‘retro’ (Anne hated that word!) Sony Digimatic digital clock, displaying the time of 10:23, and a hideously large bouquet of red-orange roses in a vase. To her right there was a solitary modern-style armchair upholstered in cream leather-effect vinyl, and a window gave her a view of what looked like a sort of urban green or common, over the far side of which stood a Victorian gothic church with a square tower. Her immediate surroundings seemed quiet, the muffled sound of human voices and movement coming distantly from elsewhere in the building, while outside she could just about discern the steady rumble of traffic, albeit deadened by the thick glass of the window.

The next in the Lethbridge-Stewart series of spinoff novels, and the second in the Laughing Gnome sub-series. The author wrote a good short story in one of the earlier collections.

I have generally enjoyed this whole sequence, and was a bit dismayed when I rather bounced off the previous installment, Scary Monsters; but I’m glad to say that order has been restored, and I very much enjoyed this rewriting of what is already alternative history, where the Brigadier and Anne Travers find themselves projected back in time to the events of The Web of Fear, with a danger that Doctor Who continuity history could go off the rails. You can get it here.

The Lost Skin, by Andy Frankham-Allen; Scary Monsters, by Simon Forward

Two more in the Candy Jar series of Lethbridge-Stewart stories, a novella by the “showrunner” and a novel by a veteran Who writer.

The Lost Skin, by Andy Frankham-Allen. Second paragraph of third chapter:

He eventually found the Docherty house, but Mr Docherty was of no help.

This is really good, one of the best of the series so far. It takes the Brigadier and friends to John O’Groats in the far north of Scotland, where they are investigating something resembling the selkie myth; at the same time they are pursued by journalist Harold Chorley and his associate Larry Greene. It turns out that Chorley is actually from Monaghan and reinvented himself with posh English accent to become a journalist, making him one of very few Irish characters in the Whoniverse. The whole thing is very well done, playing with identity and fate, and I strongly recommend it even for those who are less familiar with this continuity. Spinoff fiction at its best. You can get it here.

The Laughing Gnome: Scary Monsters, by Simon A. Forward. Second paragraph of third chapter:

Major Grigoriy Bugayev parked the service truck at the base of the steps. In his mirror, the fuel truck veered gently to a stop under the airliner’s wing.

Perhaps my concentration was weak while on holiday, but I found this rather confusing and not all that interesting. The Brigadier and friends jump all along their own timelines, including alternative timelines, and it did not make a lot of sense for me. I may try it again. You can get it here.

The New Unusual, by Adrian Sherlock and Andy Frankham-Allen

Second paragraph of third chapter:

‘Better late than never, Miss Travers,’ he said, glancing at the wall-mounted clock. It was almost 6pm.

Another in the series of Lethbridge-Stewart novels from Candy Jar books, this takes the Brigadier and crew, including Anne Travers, to Australia to investigate mysterious alien eggs which exert a peculiar influence on the minds of those who touch them. There are aliens behind it all of course. As is normally the case for this series, it’s well done and will keep me reading more of them. You can get it here.

The HAVOC Files, Volume 4, ed. Shaun Russell

Second paragraph of third story (“United in Blood”, by Mark Jones):

Lethbridge-Stewart approached the bar and held out a hand to his old friend. ‘Bill Cunningham! It’s good to see you too,’ he said, as he grasped the other’s hand in a firm handshake. ‘It’s been too many years. One of your finest malts would go down a treat on a night like this.’

I’m consistently impressed by the quality of the Candy Jar Books series of stories featuring Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, mostly in the narrative window between his first encounter with the Doctor in The Web of Fear and their reunion in The Invasion, though this anthology has a couple from the later TV continuity. These are all good; I guess the standouts for me were “All the King’s Men” by Alyson Leeds and “The Two Brigadiers” by Jonathan Macho, two authors who were both new to me (at least under those names). If you’re not already invested in the Brigadier continuity this won’t mean much to you, but if you are it’s a good addition. You can get it here.

The Man from Yesterday, by Nick Walters

Second paragraph of third chapter:

‘Stir your stumps, breakfast’s up.’ Bill grinned down at her.

Another very good installment in the series of Doctor Who spinoff stories featuring the earlier career of Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart – in this case re-introducing his father, who falls out of a timewarp into 1970 having been missing since the second world war. I think this is tremendously effective as a gimmick – certainly I still have dreams of long-dead relatives turning up out of nowhere with no particularly good explanation of what they have been doing for the last few decades. There’s bad humans and not-as-bad aliens involved, and quite a decent sense of place for the desolate farmlands and coastline of East Anglia. Another good ‘un. You can get it here.

The Man from Yesterday

A Very Private Haunting, by Sharon Bidwell

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Silence stood sentinel between them for a few minutes. Bishop broke first. ‘I read the report about the last encounter. That kid was lucky.’

Another good entry in the sequence of short novels about Brigadier Alexander Lethbridge-Stewart in the earlier part of his career. Here he and Anne Travers go to Scotland (again) and get caught up in a missing persons mystery combined with a sinister doll. Well executed, and recommended. You can get it here.

Lethbridge-Stewart: Mutually Assured Domination, by Nick Walters

Second paragraph of third chapter:

The next day, Chorley rose at his usual hour of 7:30am and, fuelled by three cups of percolated coffee (an extravagance he could never forsake), he began his investigation into Dominex.

Another in the very enjoyable series of books about the career of Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart between the events of The Invasion and Spearhead from Space, this actually manages to tell a good story about the Dominators taking over part of Dartmoor for their own nefarious purposes, bringing in Harold Chorley and other figures from the relevant era of Doctor Who. I realise to my annoyance that I’m now out of sequence – I should have read Beast of Fang Rock before this – but it’s great fun, Lethbridge-Stewart forced to go rogue and ally with hippies at one point, and sinister insights into what the Estabishment is Really Up To. It doesn’t especially break new ground, but it’s another nice block in the secret history of how UNIT came to be.

MAD"