The Flaming Soldier, by Christopher Bryant; The Dreamer’s Lament, by Benjamin Burford-Jones

Moving up my queued Doctor Who reviews in honour of my presence at Gallifrey One this weekend, here are a novella and novel in the generally good Lethbridge-Stewart spinoff series.

Second paragraph of third chapter of The Flaming Soldier, by Christopher Bryant:

For a moment, Oliver considered lingering by the local literature table, leafing through the pamphlets about historical smugglers and recently-opened attractions while eavesdropping, but in the end lethargy won the day and he headed up to his room for a bit of an afternoon nap.

It was only after I had read this rather good novella that I discovered that the main guest character, Eileen Younghusband, was an entirely real person who also wrote for the publisher, Candy Jar Books. Often attempts to shoehorn real characters into fictional universes can fall flat (thinking of Lindsey Davis's The Accusers as a case in point), but this one has really worked well. There are two converging timelines, Eileen and colleagues managing a captured alien spacecraft in the middle of WW2, and the Brigadier and proto-UNIT colleagues managing a situation of spontaneous combustion in the ranks. It's short and punchy, and recommended. You can get it here.

Second paragraph of third chapter of The Dreamer’s Lament, by Benjamin Burford-Jones:

‘Any joy?’ he asked Dovey.

I'm afraid this is the first really poor volume in the Lethbridge-Stewart series that I have encountered, though that's not a bad ratio given that it's the nineteenth (I think) that I have read. Burford-Jones' writing style is rather lurid (especially in the first chapter, which almost made me close the book without going any further); I could not take seriously his set-up, that there is a lost time-shifted corner of countryside near Bristol existing in a parallel dimension, including disappearing passenger trains; and it's basically a story about zombies, a sub-genre which has never done anything for me. You can get it here.

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